Darien Richardson, a 25-year-old woman in Maine, was sleeping in her apartment when armed intruders burst in and shot her several times in January 2010.
Her boyfriend survived the incident, but after weeks in the hospital, she died the following month due to complications from her gunshot wounds, Portland police said.
Finding her assailant seemed possible when authorities discovered that the handgun used to shoot her was apparently recovered at the scene of another murder, according to her family and news reports. But they were not able to trace it to the person who shot Darien.
“A sad and unfortunate twist in this case is that a little more than a month after Darien and her boyfriend were shot, the same gun was used in a murder on Park Avenue here in Portland,” Portland Police Assistant Chief Vernon Malloch told the Bangor Daily News in 2012. “That case is solved. We recovered the firearm. We know that it’s the same gun that killed both people. Unfortunately, we don’t know where the gun came from.”
The person who pulled the trigger remains a mystery in part due to a major loophole in the nation’s gun background check system: a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) investigation traced the gun back to a private sale at a Maine gun show, where the first owner sold it to someone he didn’t know, without a background check and without any record of the sale, the Bangor Daily News reported authorities said.
Portland police told ABC News that they are currently unable to comment on the evidentiary issue in the case and that the department is talking to the Richardson family to help solve Darien’s murder.
“We have lost one of the most valuable things in our lives. Darien is irreplaceable and can be destructive, but more than that, this crime has not been solved,” Darien’s mother Judi Richardson told ABC News. “Even though they have a murder weapon, they don’t have the piece they need – where did the weapon come from?”
In order to sell a weapon, all licensed U.S. arms dealers must guide the potential buyer through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a provision based on federal law passed in 1993.
Those who are not entitled to purchase firearms include people with a criminal record, drug addicts for any controlled substance, some people with a mental illness in the past, those who are illegal in the United States, those who have no honor have been released from armed US forces and members of protection orders related to domestic violence.
Despite existing gaps, inspections prevent weapons from being legally sold to some of those who are likely to commit crimes with them.
That’s why many lawmakers and advocates have been campaigning for years to pass universal inspections that would extend the federal law on private purchases. The bill was submitted and approved in the Chamber of Deputies in March until the Senate. Another bill, also approved by the House in March, seeks to extend the screening waiting period to 10 days.
But while universal screening has always been a panacea for preventing gun violence, there are mixed data on its effectiveness.
Public health experts say lawmakers are very good at testing as a one-way ticket to a safer road. In fact, gun violence requires a more comprehensive, multifaceted approach, they say.
However, experts agree that if system holes are closed as part of a more comprehensive strategy to reduce gun violence, background screening may be more effective in preventing gun injuries. , deaths and arms sales.
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