How could Merhige get a gun?

By Al Pefley  email

JUPITER, FL (WFLX) - In Florida, there's a three-day waiting period to purchase a gun, five days in Palm Beach County, and buyers have to pass a background check.

So how did a man who clearly had mental health issues like accused killer Paul Merhige get a weapon?

Experts say under current law, a person with a mental history, like Merhige, can legally buy a gun at a Florida gun shop, as long as he has never been committed to a mental institution. If a judge commits someone to a mental health center for treatment, that would show up on a background check that gun shops are required to do.

If a person has seen a doctor for a mental health issue, but was never committed and sent to a treatment facility, then they could still legally get a gun at a gun shop.

Another possibility is they could lie on the paperwork, and say they've never been committed.

"They could perjure themselves so long as nothing appeared on the FDLE background check, they could get away with it," said Walt Djokic, an employee at the Palm Beach Shooting Center in Lake Worth.

Djokic says it's also possible that Merhige bought the guns on the street from a private person, and of course, that way, there would've been no background check.  Merhige is accused of murdering four of his relatives at a house in Jupiter where he was invited to have a Thanksgiving meal.