Florida gun, mental laws couldn't have stopped massacre


SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) — Florida's gun and mental health laws likely could not have prevented school shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz from buying the semi-automatic rifle authorities say he used to kill 17 people — even if the laws had applied to him, the state commission investigating the shooting learned Thursday.

Robin Sparkman, chief of the state's Firearm Eligibility Bureau, told the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Public Safety Commission that even if Cruz had been subjected to an involuntary, three-day mental health evaluation under a state law called the Baker Act, he still could have bought the AR-15 allegedly used in the Feb. 14 massacre.

The only way the 19-year-old Cruz would have been ineligible to buy a gun was if he had been declared mentally ill by a judge or convicted of a felony. Cruz was never committed under the Baker Act, convicted of a crime or judged to be mentally ill.

"So many people think the Baker Act is a magic wand — that the Baker Act cures and fixes all. The Baker Act doesn't," said Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, the commission's chairman. "The Baker Act is a temporary custody status for assessment. Rarely does the Baker Act result in any treatment. People think that if Cruz had been Baker Acted that this wouldn't have happened. That is flat-out erroneous."

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