Mental Health Issues, Criminal Record For Teen Gunman

Jan 28, 2013

Benjamin Bishop is charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

Even though laws in Florida prevented 18-year-old Benjamin Bishop from buying a gun, that didn’t stop him from getting one, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

The Oldsmar teen had a criminal record and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. He was taken into custody five times under the Baker Act. The mental illness diagnosis wasn’t enough to prevent him from buying a gun in Florida -- but the felony sentencing he got after he took a knife to school did, the Times reports.

Unable to purchase a gun himself, law enforcement officials say he got a friend to buy a shotgun for him, according to the Times.  Bishop has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, lawmakers are trying to figure out what to do about the connection between mental illness and violence. U.S. Rep. Rich Nugent R-Spring Hill and Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn are working on a bill to improve mental health services in jails, the Times reports.

Meanwhile, PolitiFact sorted out the difference between evaluation under the Baker Act and commitment to a mental institution and how that affects the right to own a firearm.