Despite a sweeping 2013 law to expand New York's ban on assault weapons, a troubled doctor with a criminal record was able to buy a rifle that he later used in a deadly shooting spree at Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center, the New York Times reports.
Dr. Henry Bello, who killed himself after the bloody siege last week, bought the weapon – a semiautomatic AM-15, which is Anderson Manufacturing's version of the AR-15, a civilian rifle close in design to the M-16 – at the Upstate Guns and Ammo in Schenectady, N.Y., the Times reported.
New York's SAFE Act aimed to limit the kinds of weapons sold in the state – and the range of people who have access to them to lessen an assailant's ability to inflict mass casualties.
But according to the Times, almost as soon as the New York law was passed, the gun industry made modifications — essentially inventing new kinds of weapons or introducing innovations to conform to the law — that didn't alter their power significantly.
"They turned an AR-15's aiming and firepower into a World War II rifle without the bolt action," one unnamed law enforcement official told the Times.
Bello had passed a federal background check, which includes determining whether a buyer belongs to any of nine categories of people prohibited from owning firearms, the Times reported.
Among them are felons, illegal immigrants, active drug users, people with dishonorable discharges from the military, people with orders of protection in family disputes and people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.
And though he had a criminal record, he had been convicted of a misdemeanor, which wouldn't have kept him from buying the gun, the Times reported.
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