Background check keeps accused Belle Meade hatchet killer from purchasing gun

(MNPD/Fox 17 News)

Tennessee's background check system for gun purchases stopped a man from getting a firearm just days before he allegedly killed his former boss with a knife and hatchet.

Four days before Metro Nashville Police say Domenic Micheli killed his former boss at a Belle Meade fitness gym last week, he tried to buy a gun from a dealer. However, his attempt was rebuffed when red flags came up in his background check.

An arrest by Secret Service at the White House just weeks earlier triggered prosecution and a mental health check via court order.

"Just because you come in and want to buy a gun, does that mean I need to sell it to you? No," said Buford Tune, former metro police officer and gun dealer. "If you come in and you're acting funny, hit the door. I don't have to sell you nothing."

Tune admitted that the background check system in Tennessee is far from perfect, but it can save lives when it works.

Three other people were in The Balance Gym last week when Micheli allegedly killed Joel Paavola, his former boss. Had he been able to buy a gun, Tune said tragedy could have been much greater.

"No system out there is fool proof, but if you can come up with a better one, everyone out there would like to know what it is," Tune said.

The system is unable to stop some crimes like the recent murders at an Antioch Waffle House. That alleged gunman was given the firearm by his father after police removed the gun from the home weeks earlier.

However, a reported ISIS sympathizer, Khari Whitehead, was arrested by federal authorities after trying to buy a gun at a local Walmart.

Tennessee Bureau of Investigation data show there were more than 500,000 background checks in the state in 2017, and 20,000 of them stopped a purchase from going through. That is up from just 12,000 denials in 2010.

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