In 2012, when a doctor told Janet Delana's schizophrenic adult daughter to stop an aggressive drug regimen that wasn't working and come back for a checkup in four days, the mother picked up the phone. Colby Sue Weathers had been hearing voices for five years and bought a gun with her last disability check—she hadn't been legally deemed a threat or ordered to a mental health hospital, meaning her background check was all clear. Delana and her husband, gun owners themselves, managed to take the weapon away. But as the Washington Post reports in a lengthy feature, Delana knew her daughter's next disability check was on the way, and that a gun purchase would likely follow. Delana called the police, then the ATF, and then the FBI, which said it would take six weeks to evaluate Weathers' medical records.
And so she called the Odessa, Mo., gun shop that previously sold to her daughter, provided the 38-year-old's social security number, and begged them in a 4-minute call to put a Post-it next to the register telling employees not to sell to her. The check arrived, and the day before that scheduled doctor's appointment, Weathers went to Odessa Gun & Pawn and bought a Hi-Point pistol and box of ammunition for $257.85. She next went to her parents' house and on June 27, 2012, shot her father in the back, killing him. She then called 911: "I can't shoot myself," she said. "I was going to after I did it, but I can't." With a single shot Delana lost her husband and her daughter, who was committed to a state mental-health facility. Read the full story, which recounts Delana's settlement with the gun shop and what she's advocating for now. (Read more gun violence stories.)