A 2008 restraining order against the shooter who Thursday night killed two and injured nine in a Lafayette, Louisiana, movie theater and then fatally shot himself lists complaints that John Russell Houser suffered from manic depression and bipolar disorder. The order indicates that Houser’s ex-wife, out of concern for her and others’ safety, removed all weapons and firearms from their home.

In spite of concern from those who knew him and an involuntary committal to a mental health facility, Houser was still able to purchase, legally, a .40-caliber semi-automatic weapon at a pawn shop in Alabama. This is the same gun he used to kill. On Friday, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal told reporters that “now is not the time” to discuss gun control measures or how he, as a leader, would work to stop mass shootings in the future.

“It seems like he chose a theater that had an exit where he could get out to his car. It seemed like he planned this,” said Jindal, a presidential candidate, explaining the horror in the theater. He said that he would be happy to discuss politics and policy in a couple of days, but less than 24 hours after the shooting was too early. “As I walked into that theater there was still a room set up for a kid’s birthday party.”

At the same time, gun control and mental health advocates questioned how many times shootings involving individuals suffering from mental illness would have to occur before there were policy changes to treat the mentally ill and keep guns out of their hands.

“We must also increase our efforts to establish additional mental health alternatives, which can identify and control unstable and violent persons,” said Louisiana Attorney General, James “Buddy” Caldwell in a statement on Friday.










The bipolar disorder that Houser suffered from is a mental illness that brings about severe mood swings. The illness was formerly referred to as manic depression, because a person with the condition oscillates between being “manic,” feeling excited and confident, and depressed. The illness can include side effects like thoughts of death or suicide, attempts at suicide, poor judgment and drug or alcohol abuse.

The illness is often considered to be particularly misunderstood. It often runs in families; however, it can be treated with medication and therapy.

The cost of treating severe mental illness in the United States has been prohibitive to addressing the problem. During the recession that started in 2008, states cut mental health funding by $1.8 billion. Roughly 60 percent of individuals suffering from mental health illnesses last year were unable to receive treatment for their disease.