Gun store owner John Downs helped avert a possible mass shooting in Ohio on Monday.
Gun store owner John Downs helped avert a possible mass shooting in Ohio on Monday.

An Ohio gun store owner averted a possible mass shooting Monday when he refused to sell a gun to a 25-year-old man who just seemed “off” to him. When the man grew angry and left the store, the gun store owner called police.

It turns out that his intuition about his angry customer was dead on.

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office says a former Ohio University student underwent a mental evaluation Wednesday after an alleged violent incident on campus.

Investigators tell 10TV the situation could have been worse, but a local gun store owner is being credited for the outcome.

The Ohio University Police Department says the incident started on campus Monday morning at the Bird Ice Arena.

Officers say 25-year-old James Howard entered the arena and forced his way into the Assistant Hockey Coach’s office, while attempting to hit him.

OUPD immediately issued warrants for Howard’s arrest and believed he had fled Athens County.

The Hocking County Sheriff’s Office received a call from a Logan gun store owner Monday afternoon about a man acting strange and trying to buy a gun from his store, Downs Bait and Guns.

John Downs says he talks to everyone who comes into his store, especially customers who stand out.

“The look on his face, his eyes. I just knew something was wrong,” Downs said.

Downs says Howard walked into his Logan gun shop Monday afternoon looking to buy a rifle.

Howard passed a background check, but after talking to him some more the store owner had a bad feeling.

“I said ‘I can’t sell you the gun. I said I got a bad feeling about this, and I’m not going to sell it to you,’” Downs said.

Downs said the 25 year old became angry and left the store. That’s when Downs called police.

“I did what I did and I’m glad I did it,” Downs said.

Howard had a prior history of mental illness including an involuntary commitment, which should theoretically have led to him being classified as a prohibited person in the FBI’s NICS background check system. Unfortunately, the NICS database that gun control groups pretend is some sort of a magic shield against bad people getting guns is actually very porous.

The National InstaCheck System (NICS) is nothing more than several databases, and the information in those databases is only as good as what state and local law enforcement and mental health professions provide. As these agencies are typically overworked and underfunded, the information in these databases is often incomplete, months late, or simply isn’t uploaded at all.

There are literally millions of people like Howard, who should be classified as “prohibited persons” in the NICS database, but are not. NICS isn’t useless, but it isn’t going to stop mass killers from acquiring weapons. It’s failed to do precisely that in Aurora, Charleston, Virginia Tech, and countless other incidents.

Three things stop people intent on mass killings. Proactive law enforcement, ethical gun dealers like John Downs, and lawfully armed citizens who refuse to allow their communities to be soft targets.

We need more of each, not less.