Speed Reads

Gun control

Would universal background checks have stopped the Kalamazoo shooter? Here's why it's not likely.

On Monday, President Obama implied that the gun control measures he proposes would have stopped the shooting in Kalamazoo, Michigan, which claimed six lives on Saturday. "Earlier this year, I took some steps that will make it harder for dangerous people, like this individual, to buy a gun," he said, "But clearly, we're going to need to do more if we're going to keep innocent Americans safe."

But if John Dalton, the suspect police apprehended, is indeed responsible for this tragedy, that's almost certainly not true. Dalton had no criminal or psychiatric record, meaning a universal background check like Obama wants to implement wouldn't have stopped him from buying weapons. A representative of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) told the Associated Press that there was no evidence Dalton ran afoul of current gun ownership laws, either.

Obama has made a similar argument in response to past shootings. However, as CNN's Anderson Cooper pointed out in his town hall event with the president in January, "none of the guns [used in those attacks] were purchased from an unlicensed dealer" — meaning, as The Washington Post has documented, none of the shooters could have been stopped by Obama's preferred measures.