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Jared Loughner Sentenced to Life in Prison

Common Dreams staff

(photo: U.S. Marshals Service)

Jared Loughner, who went on a shooting rampage in 2011 that left 6 people dead and 13 wounded, including former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, has been sentenced to life in prison Thursday afternoon, the Associated Press reports.

24-year-old Loughner, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia after the shooting, was given seven consecutive life terms plus 140 years in prison as part of a plea agreement.

In addition to Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, being in court, the Washington Post reports that

Many of the survivors of the shooting that Loughner carried out were in the packed federal courtroom to hear him being sentenced to life in prison. Also present were the families of those killed, who included John Roll, an Arizona judge; Gabe Zimmerman, who served on the congresswoman’s staff; and 9-year-old Christina-Taylor Green. ...

Days after the Jan. 8, 2011 shooting, law professor and Associate Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights Bill Quigley asked:

How does a mentally unstable man who was kicked out of school and had run-ins with the law buy such a serious weapon?

The weapon reportedly used in the mass murders in Tucson was a serious weapon - a Glock 19, semi-automatic pistol, with an extended magazine. Some weapons like that were illegal to sell in the US from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. It is now legal to sell and own them. The National Rifle Association reports there are tens of millions of assault weapons in private hands in the US.

The federal background check for people purchasing such weapons only prohibits selling such weapons to people who have been legally determined to be mentally defective or found insane or convicted of crimes. This man had not been found legally mentally defective or convicted so he was legally entitled to purchase an assault weapon. In Arizona he was legally entitled to carry the weapon in a concealed manner.

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