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Officials Reveal How Highland Park Shooter Was Able To Buy Guns Despite ‘Red Flag’ Laws

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


Officials are still trying to piece together how a young man with a troubled past and a history of having weapons taken away by police still managed to buy the high-powered rifle he used to murder seven people and wound at least 30 others who were watching an Independence Day parade in a Chicago suburb.

Just the News reports:

The police visited the shooter’s home in 2019 and seized weapons, but the shooter was still able to later purchase a semiautomatic weapon he used in the mass shooting.

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According to local media reports, the weapon used was a “high-powered” AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle that Robert E. Crimo III, the suspect, legally purchased in Illinois outside of Highland Park.

The Highland Park ordinance that banned semiautomatic weapons like AR-15s was formally adopted in 2013. The Supreme Court upheld the ban in 2015.

On Tuesday, Highland Park Mayor Nancy Rotering said that Crimo was in violation of the local ordinance after he brought the rifle into the city; it should be noted that the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act President Joe Biden recently signed does not ban the sale of such semiautomatic rifles.

According to reports, Crimo had prior contact with police before he allegedly carried out the shooting, but so far, law enforcement officials are not providing any details.

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NPR reported that the alleged shooter also posted violent videos to various social media accounts; since the shooting, however, the videos have been removed.

The state’s red flag law was passed in order to establish a process to remove firearms from those deemed to be a danger to themselves and/or others. But CBS News reported that the law is “rarely used, except in DuPage County.”

So, how was Crino able to buy a rifle? According to Fox News, his father helped him.

“The subject was under 21 and the application was sponsored by the subject’s father,” Illinois State Police said. “Therefore, at the time of FOID application review in January of 2020, there was insufficient basis to establish a clear and present danger and deny the FOID application.”

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But his father, Bob Crimo, 58, knew that police had been called to their home twice earlier that same year because his son had threatened to kill himself and the rest of his family.

Fox News added:

In April 2019, an individual contacted the Highland Park Police Department a week after learning of Crimo’s attempted suicide, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said Tuesday. 

It was a delayed report, so police responded to the residence a week later and spoke with Crimo and his parents. Mental health professionals handled the matter with no further law enforcement action. 

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In September of that same year, police responded to the Crimo residence after a family member reported that Crimo had a collection of knives and said he was “going to kill everyone,” Covelli said during a press conference.

Police responded and proceeded to confiscate 16 knives, a dagger and sword from his home, but since there was no probable cause to arrest, Crimo was not taken into custody. Also, there were no signed complaints against the young man by any of the alleged victims.

But Highland Park Police Department did, however, notify Illinois State Police about the second incident, though at the time, there was no information that he possessed any firearms or any rifles, said Covelli.

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Illinois State Police “received a Clear and Present Danger report on the subject from the Highland Park Police Department,” the agency said in a press release.

“The report was related to threats the subject made against his family. There were no arrests made in the September 2019 incident and no one, including family, was willing to move forward on a complaint nor did they subsequently provide information on threats or mental health that would have allowed law enforcement to take additional action. Additionally, no Firearms Restraining Order was filed, nor any order of protection,” the report added.

The recently-passed gun control bill signed by President Biden incentivizes states that do not have one to pass a ‘red flag’ law, though the Illinois statute did not seem to function as designed, say critics.

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