(WKBN) – The mother of a woman who died after an officer-involved shooting is taking issue with current state and federal gun laws concerning people with mental health issues.
On July 18, 31-year-old Imonie Hackett would suffer from a mental health episode due to her mental illness. This would lead to an 18-hour stand-off with police because at the time, Imonie had a gun in her home with her child.
Eventually, Hackett was shot by police. After being on life support for weeks, she passed away. Her mother questions how she was able to get a gun when she had a history of mental illness.
“I thought there were laws to protect not only people like herself but for us as society as well,” said Belinda Hackett, Imonie’s mom.
Ohio law states, that there is nothing prohibiting a person with mental health issues from legally obtaining a firearm, unless a court of law has been involved.
According to Gilfords Law Center, “Federal law generally prohibits possession of firearms and ammunition by people who have been found by a court, board, commission or other lawful authority to be a danger to themselves or others, or to lack ‘the mental capacity to contract or manage [their] own affairs,’ as a result of their mental condition or illness.”
Federal law also prohibits anyone who has been “committed to a mental institution” from obtaining a gun.
However, federal regulations define a person as “committed to a mental institution” if a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority has formally committed him or her to a mental institution.
This means if the court or a lawful authority is not involved, there is no law against obtaining a firearm. Also, it does not include anyone admitted to a mental institution voluntarily or for observation.
In addition, Gilford’s Law states there is no federal law that “requires states to report the identities of these individuals when they become ineligible to possess firearms to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (“NICS”) database, which the FBI uses to perform background checks prior to firearm transfers.”
Although Hackett had been involuntarily hospitalized due to her mental illness just days prior to the standoff, it’s unclear when she purchased her gun and whether or not her background was reported to the NICS.
Belinda Hackett feels there should be stricter laws and deeper background checks done when it comes to purchasing firearms. She says although her daughter was not in her right state of mind, she only had the firearm because she was allowed to.
“You shouldn’t be able to go buy a gun like you can go buy a gallon of milk….you’re legally letting these people do this. She has a history, she should have never been able to,” she said.