SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It is more difficult to register a car at the DMV or refill a prescription at the drug store than it is to buy a gun and ammunition.
That's according to a mother who lost her children to gun violence.
Sean Marshall says it's time for an alert system -- a database to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, like her now-deceased husband, Phillip.
The Santa Barbara woman spoke exclusively to NewsChannel 3, giving her first interview since her family tragedy more than one year ago.
"Somehow he snapped," Marshall said, referring to Phillip. "He was on medication. Something went very wrong. But I think had he not had that gun, my children would still be alive. They would've had a chance."
It happened in February 2013 in a small community in the mountain town of Murphy's in Calaveras County.
Phillip Marshall killed 14-year-old Macaila and her 17-year-old brother Alex, along with the family dog, Suki, while Sean was out of the country.
Phillip purchased the bullets three days before.
Marshall said doctors diagnosed her estranged husband as bipolar in 2001. And yes, he legally owned a gun.
Medications forced a leave of absence from his job as a pilot at United Airlines, but Marshall believes Phillip may have gone off his meds by the time of the shooting; toxicology results showed trace amounts of medications in his system.
"I came home to a community of kids grieving in such a way that was so heart-breaking," Marshall said.
For days, her children's friends slept at Marshall's home. Sleeping bags were strewn all over the floors as the teens comforted each other, and the grieving mother, over the sudden and tremendous void in their lives.
"When I left my children with him, I left my children with their father that loved them," Marshall said. "I won't ever know what happened that night."
She drew parallels to the tragedy in Isla Vista.
"I just remember saying, 'I want to meet Mr. Martinez,'" said Marshall, referring to the father of Christopher Michaels-Martinez, one of the victims of Isla Vista's mass murder.
Marshall wants to be of service to Martinez's cause, coined "Not One More" during a campuswide memorial at UCSB. Marshall also wants to meet with Sandy Hook parents and network to help put an end at the ease with which mentally ill people are able to obtain guns and ammunition.
She attended the National Rifle Association (NRA) conference last spring, after her children were murdered.
"I asked why they had guns, why they felt they needed guns to protect themselves and a lot of them had very valid stories," Marshall said. "Then I shared my story and they were stunned. '"You can get a gun with a restraining order? And mental illness?!"'
Marshall said she would like to see the creation of an alert system that would cross-check gun and ammunition purchases against a mental illness database to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, like Phillip, Elliot Rodger, Eric and Dylan Klebold, Adam Lanza and scores of other gunmen (and women) who used bullets to cause such carnage within a matter of minutes.
"There's been too many innocent lives taken for really something that we can control," Marshall said. "We have the technology. We have the brainpower. We're Americans. We're smart -- we just all need to get on the same page."