Mental illness and access to guns stirs concerns for many - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Mental illness and access to guns stirs concerns for many

PHENIX CITY, AL -

Nationwide concerns about gun access to those with a history of mental illness or violent outbursts hit close to home, as officials discuss the local connection of the alleged LA movie theater shooter.

Officials say they traced the gun John Houser used to kill two and injure nine back to Phenix City, where Houser lived for many years.

WTVM reached out to local Phenix City pawn shops, and all but Northside Pawn denies selling Houser a weapon.

At a press conference on Friday, Russell County officials described reasons why Houser was denied a permit to conceal carry.

 "We had the report of domestic violence against him and in 89 or 90 he was arrested for an arson case in Columbus., GA, so at the time he applied for his permit, he had the arson arrest in his history as well as the domestic violence report," said Russell County Sheriff Heath Taylor.

The criminal background of John "Rusty" Houser, a 59-year-old Columbus native, came to light last week, as his alleged violent rampage in Louisiana claimed the lives of two women and injured nine in a Lafayette movie theater.

As in similar cases of public massacres, the mental state of each alleged shooter also comes into question, along with the big talker- where and how did they get a gun?

"We're having shootings after shootings and it's just so random, but it does seem to have a nexus. I do think there is a mental connection of the mental incapacity of some level with all of the issues. With all of the shootings they're all dealing with mental illness," said Taylor.

Documents from 2008 indicate Houser was involuntarily committed to a Columbus hospital because he posed a danger to himself and others.

The department of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms say they traced the legal purchase of the gun used in the attack, back to a Phenix City pawn shop, bought in February 2014, meaning a history of violence and mental illness was already documented by the time Houser got hold of the weapon he used to kill and injure movie-goers.

Louisiana's governor Bobby Jindal says due to Houser's history of mental illness, he should not have been allowed to buy a gun- but at this time, officials tell us Houser did purchased the gun legally.

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