John Russell Houser, the 59-year-old man who opened fire in a crowded movie theater in Lafayette Louisiana, on Thursday, used a .40-caliber handgun to kill two women and wound nine other people before killing himself -- and despite having a criminal record, he may have acquired the gun legally. Though authorities have not determined where or how Houser got the weapon, in Louisiana you can buy that same .40-caliber handgun without a waiting period or a background check. The only thing required to purchase a gun in the state is a valid driver's license that proves you're over 21.
Speculation over whether Houser acquired the weapon illegally arose after his criminal record was discovered. He had been arrested for arson in the 1990s, domestic abuse in 2005, and most recently, vandalism, in 2014. But since there is no required background check for gun sales in Louisiana, he could have bought it legally regardless of his past.
Louisiana places no restrictions on purchases of ammunition or on guns in the workplace and has no requirements for child-proofing guns. Neither is there a limit on bulk purchases. Dealers do not need a permit to sell guns and they do not need to keep records of customer names, addresses or personal information.
Condolences to families of those killed in Louisiana shooting. More proof that gun control is needed now: http://t.co/Ib6nwucPbn
— Richard Branson (@richardbranson) July 24, 2015
In November 2012, a National Rifle Association-backed amendment reinforced Second Amendment rights for citizens and made it more difficult for Louisiana officials to limit gun sales. The amendment passed with 74.3 percent of the vote. Louisiana is among the 10 states with the weakest gun laws, and those states' collective rate of gun violence is 104 percent higher than that of the 10 states with the strictest gun control laws, Think Progress reported.
Louisiana state Rep. Terry Landry Sr., a Democrat, immediately called for stricter gun laws when news of the shooting broke on Thursday night. "It's our job as legislators to close the loopholes in these gun laws," he said.