Federal gun laws didn't block shooter

Navy Yard shooting prompts new round of calls for action from lawmakers
Associated Press
Sep 17, 2013

The gunman in the mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis, had a history of violent outbursts, was at least twice accused of firing guns in anger and was in the early stages of treatment for serious mental problems, according to court records and U.S. law enforcement officials.

But Alexis apparently managed to exploit seams in the nation's patchwork of complicated gun laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people to buy a weapon. He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun.

It is illegal for gun dealers to sell handguns to such out-of-state buyers, but the Firearms Owners' Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1986, opened up interstate sales for shotguns and rifles. Virginia gun laws require only that an out-of-state buyer show valid identification, pass a background check and otherwise abide by state laws in order to buy a shotgun in the state. Alexis was never prosecuted for the two misdemeanors involving guns.

Alexis bought the shotgun at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va. on Sunday, according to a statement from the attorney for the gun range.

Michael Slocum said in an email that Alexis rented a rifle, bought bullets and used the range before buying the shotgun and 24 shells. Slocum said Alexis passed a federal background check.

Law enforcement officials visited the range Monday, reviewing the store's video and other records.

"What the 1986 Firearms Owners' Protection Act did was it made it more convenient for gun buyers," said Kristen Rand, the legislative director at the Violence Policy Center. "That's the road we've been on for a while: The convenience of gun owner always seems to trump the right of victims not to be shot."

Federal gun laws bar the mentally ill from legally buying guns from licensed dealers. But the law requires that someone be involuntarily committed to a mental health facility or declared mentally ill by a judge, and that information must be reported to the FBI in order to appear on a background checks. In the wake of the 2007 shooting at Virginia Tech, state authorities changed state laws to make it tougher for the mentally ill to buy guns there.

But like other recently accused mass shooters, Alexis was never declared mentally ill by a judge or committed to a hospital. He was being treated by the Veterans Administration as recently as August, according to two law enforcement officials, but the Navy had not declared him mentally unfit.

The Virginia Tech shooter, Seung Hi Cho, was declared mentally ill by a judge, but nobody ever reported it to federal authorities to get him included in the database of banned purchasers.

After the December massacre at a Connecticut elementary school, U.S. lawmakers pushed to overhaul gun laws. Among the proposals was a ban on military-style rifles, including the popular AR-15, and high-capacity ammunition magazines. There was also a plan to expand background checks to make sure anyone who wanted a gun got the approval of the federal government.

No legislation has moved forward in Congress, despite urgent pleas from the president, some lawmakers and victims' families.

President Barack Obama has made a few narrow administrative changes, but those are not likely to impact the kinds of guns most often found at crime scenes.

Asked Tuesday about whether the shooting would renew consideration of new gun laws, Obama spokesman Jay Carney said the president hasn't stopped pushing for reform, was making executive changes to federal rules and reiterated his commitment to strengthening gun laws, including expanding background checks to sales online and at gun shows.

"He has not in the least hidden his displeasure and disappointment in Congress for its failure to pass legislation that's supported by 80 percent to 90 percent of the American people," Carney told reporters. "You could not define a case of Congress — or a minority in Congress, a minority in the Senate — taking its cues from a narrow special interest, better than this."

Monday's shooting prompted a new round of calls for action from lawmakers.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D.-W.Va., the author of a bill on background checks, both said they would like to see a vote on the background checks bill, but the votes aren't there for passage at this time.

Still, Reid said he hopes to get another gun control vote this year. "I don't want any more bad things to happen, you know. Something's going to have to get the attention of these characters who don't want any controls."

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a leading advocate for tougher gun control in the Senate, said in a statement that the shooting "is one more event to add to the litany of massacres."

"Congress must stop shirking its responsibility and resume a thoughtful debate on gun violence in this country. We must do more to stop this endless loss of life," she said.

Some congressional Democrats and family members of shooting victims planned to gather at the Capitol on Wednesday to renew their push for background check legislation. The trip, organized by the Newtown Action Alliance, was previously planned to mark the nine-month anniversary of the Connecticut school shooting.

For Obama, it was at least the seventh mass shooting of his presidency, and he mourned the victims while speaking at the White House on Monday.

"We are confronting yet another mass shooting, and today it happened on a military installation in our nation's capital," Obama said. "It's a shooting that targeted our military and civilian personnel. These are men and women who were going to work, doing their job protecting all of us. They're patriots, and they know the dangers of serving abroad, but today they faced the unimaginable violence that they wouldn't have expected here at home."

 

Comments

JudgeMeNot

George Zimmerman should change his name to George Benghazi then no one would ever mention him again.

deertracker

Except you!

Simple Enough II

You have a point there!

LabMan

NRA is raffling off 12 "banned" guns now. Go to www.NRABannedGunsRaffle.org

Nor'easter

If Obama would lead an effort to change or revoke portions of the HIPPA law, the health professionals could flag those needing mental health help and prevent these tragedies. The way the current law reads, if a health professional talks about any patient and their needs without specific written permission from the patient, (Which they are not about to give.) The health professional is subject to fines, loss of job, and prison time. Which do we want? Absolute privacy and killings or common sense and a safer country??

devilsadvocate

When I renew my driver's license or plates - no one checks to see if I am still competent. They just take my money after making sure I am still alive.

No one can protect everyone from everything. If he drove a car into a crowd of people (like was recently done in California) do we ban cars?

coasterfan

Weak comparison. Cars are transportation devices. When used as designed, they will get you from one place to another. Guns are weapons. When used as designed, they kill and maim.

Darwin's choice

Again, if the will is there, a way can be found. This is clearly a case of Obama-fail, this man was frustrated beyond reason with the governments failure, Obama's agenda doesn't work.

Sam

More people are killed by drunk drivers and other reckless drivers than guns every year.

arnmcrmn

Great point Sam and one that EVERY LIBERAL on this forum forgets. Cars intent = transportation, yet the death ratio isn't even close when comparing cars vs gun violence.

Nobody has a problem with background checks. Hell, Im surprised they haven't started doing checks when you buy ammo.

Nothing will stop all violence. Look in the paper each and every day. People are killed left and right.

America is too BIG with too many people and too many crazies.

The answer is more common sense good people carrying. Nothing else is working.

looking around

When you renew your licenses you are asked questions pertaining to your health and current state of your driving privileges as well they can see if you are flagged by the national data base. For your plates you need proof of insurance and proper identification. It's not quite apples to apples but with proper gun regulation in place it could be.

Simple Enough II

Having and driving a vehicle is a privilege, not a right.

YoMamma

The real question is how did this nut job keep his security clearance? If one has a history of randomly shooting weapons, how is DOD not kept in the loop??

arnmcrmn

Does is surprise you with this administration. Everything has been a letdown.

looking around

This administration? These type of security clearances have not been given proper oversight in twenty years.

grumpy

"This administration? These type of security clearances have not been given proper oversight in twenty years."

Correct. This is how gov't performs some of its most sensitive operations. Is it any wonder why some folks wish to limit the scope of what gov't does? Thanks for pointing this out to us all. It is just typical gov't perfromance of it's responsibilities. Who wants to give them more responsibility?

The Big Dog's back

Yep pooh, let's get rid of the Navy. Awww hell, the whole military.

Centauri

"Alexis was never prosecuted for the two misdemeanors involving guns."

There it is folks. Lack of prosecution. The gun laws were ignored.

"He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun."

He did what Biden said to do. "Buy a shotgun"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=...
Gun Joe Biden Says No Need To Own Assault Weapons: 'Buy A Shotgun

ladydye_5

I wondered who would be the first to bring that up! LOL. He did say that.

Nemesis

""He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun."

The only way he could buy a gun as an out of state resident is if he bought it from an FFL holder, which would require the background check of which coaster and others seem so enamored.

Centauri

http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/...
"He sought treatment with the Veterans Administration for paranoia and hearing voices in two states."

Azure Ray

That's because there is no need for anyone to have guns. Ban them! Oh wait, we can't, because we can't trust our government.

grumpy

You are welcome to amend the Constitution. There is a set schedule of how that is done. Be my guest to start it up and see what the rest of the country thinks of that idea.

4shizzle

"... we can't trust our government"...is an understatement.

More like full tilt, screaming through the streets , paranoia of the government by the "gun loving" conspiracy theorists.

coasterfan

I concur. If they are that afraid of our government, why don't they just leave. There isn't a fence keeping them in, and frankly, the people who should truly feel unsafe are the rest of us, who have to share our country with a bunch of nutcases with itchy trigger fingers. Seriously, if you weren't worried during the Bush/Cheney administration, you don't have much reason to be worried now. Gotta give those Fox people some snaps; they sure know how to whip their dittoheads into a frenzy, don't they?

4shizzle

"...they sure know how to whip their dittoheads into a frenzy, don't they?"
..............They sure do.

Darwin's choice

You two fools are prime examples of failure by the democrats. Can't show some positive answer, throw out some Obama bs, and drink the kool-aid, It will be better then.

arnmcrmn

agree Darwin. Same daily rant by these two. Guess whats next....name calling.

Darwin's choice

Think about it....

Alleged former 'shill' admits that trolling operations are real

Then there is the occasional confession by a former employee of the government who fesses up about what is really taking place in secret behind the scenes. A recent public posting on a "conspiracy theory" forum -- conspiracy websites are typically the most heavily targeted by government officials -- admits that individuals are constantly being recruited and hired by shadowy groups and government-affiliated agencies to manipulate online discussions.

"Shills exist," writes this anonymous ex-shill following a lengthy explanation of how he was hand-selected to pose as a normal commenter and basically lie on forums and in comment sections. "They are real. They walk among you ... You should be aware of this," he adds.

It should be noted that the alternative news website where this confession was recently re-posted was asked by the conspiracy website where it was originally posted to take it down, claiming that it is "libelous and utterly false," even though it does not name any specific names or identify who is behind these and other shill operations. When asked for an explanation, the conspiracy website in question simply stopped responding.

Anyone here? Obamabot's?

Centauri

"A recent public posting on a "conspiracy theory" forum -- conspiracy websites are typically the most heavily targeted by government officials -- admits that individuals are constantly being recruited and hired by shadowy groups and government-affiliated agencies to manipulate online discussions."

I am aware of paid shills on foreign news online site. I suppose that there are paid shills posting comments on American online sites also. I have come across many of these shills here and also on other American newspaper online site. If anyone can provide links on these paid American shills, I would like to see them.

Meanwhile Feinstein wants to go after unpaid journalists and bloggers who post comments. I guess that being a paid shill would be protected by Feinstein actions. I have no idea how this super rich ruling class hag keeps getting elected to office. People need to get a clue in California and boot her butt out of office. She keeps taking rights away from the people and giving more powers and rights to the rich ruling class.

http://watchdog.org/100682/feins...
"In a proposed amendment to a media shield law being considered by Congress, Feinstein writes that only paid journalists should be given protections from prosecution for what they say or write. The language in her proposal is raising concerns from First Amendment advocates because it seems to leave out bloggers and other nontraditional forms of journalism that have proliferated in recent years thanks to the Internet."

This super rich hag keeps taking your rights away and now going after freedom of expression and speech. She should be tried for treason.

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