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."




"A petition submitted to the White House's "We the People" website calling for Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) to be tried in a federal court for treason has reached the requisite 25,000 signatures for an administration response."


So what ?

"We the People," a wack website.


American Jew Feinstein learned nothing from Hitler. History will repeat itself.

"According to Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and her backers, you’re not a real journalist unless you work for a corporate mainstream media organisation, and do so as your ‘primary source of income’. That means you can only express an opinion or expose corruption in Washington and elsewhere… if you belong to a government-approved media outlet. Does this sound familiar? It’s the same system championed by the Nazis in Germany, and by Stalin in the old Soviet."


Another wack website.

Simple Enough II

I really don't care what here religion is, but I want to know if and why she would have armed security?


You two fools (Darwin's choice /arnmcrmn) are prime examples of failure by the Republicans. Can't show some positive answer, throw out some Republican bs, and drink the kool-aid, It will be better then.
Same daily rant by you two. I can guess what's next for me....name calling.


They both have a master's degree in stupidity!


Ahhh, thanks for proving me right. Name calling, what the liberals turn to when all else fails.


More Fox envy, the liberal networks like PMSNBC can't get ratings, liberal talk radio has failed at every attempt. Gun violence has increased under the messiahs administration, spin that fact. Rather a ditto head than a far left wing wacko.


More Fox ratings = more people watching = more idiots


oh shut up with your rubbish. The world does not revolve around you.



You are a waste of time



You are a waste of time


Typical far left wing nonfactual response. When they lack facts they revert to name calling.


.....= Darwin, Judge, pooh, GI Joe and all the usual suspects!!!!!!!!


Republican kool aid drinkers

Darwin's choice

Not a Republican, just can't stand your stupidity.


Gotta love the moron telling me that I'm stupid.

The Answer Person

If only all of these people had been armed, they could have defended themselves...just like in Sandy Hook...if those kids had only had more guns they would be alive today. yep...we need more guns...


why Thanks Republican President RONALD REAGAN for re-cutting the Federal Budget that set FREE these mentially ill cases, and medicine FREE so they don't get CARE they need. Lets not forget the Affirmative action Law where as employers have to hire Quota.
You should search of ALL the great things Republican President Ronald Reagan has done, you would be shocked.


"why Thanks Republican President RONALD REAGAN for re-cutting the Federal Budget that set FREE these mentially ill cases, and medicine FREE so they don't get CARE they need."

You should also thank The ACLU for also helping to let out the mental patients out of the institutions they were in. They got many released when they were on the meds they need to be "normal/controlled" and be considered sane. Being sane they could not be held. When released many, not all went off the meds, and reverted into their mental state that got them institutionalized in the first place. Now they get put back in till they stabliize, pass as sane, get released, go off the meds and go back in... it is a circle.

It wasn't just the ACLU, budget cuts, or changing views of the mentally ill, it was the combination of those and more. It will never get the genie back in the bottle.

The Big Dog's back

Spreading that bullspit again huh pooh. raygun opened the gates of hell.


Just remember public outcry wanted rehabilitation, not confinement. The trend became to rehabilitate in stead of lock up. Well, we see the result and I personally tried to get someone put away for their own safety on a temporary basis but could not!




Washington D.C. and Federal military bases have the most restrictive gun regulations in the nation. Another example where only law abiding citizens obey gun laws. Liberals again using a tragedy to spin their agenda.


agree. spin away libs.


^^^^^^^^^^Pot meet the kettles!^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^


read http://www.thesmokinggun.com/bus...

The Big Dog's back

Guns with bullets kill people.


Whenever this subject comes up, some will bring up the Constitution and the "right to bare arms". Makes a person wonder. The word is bear!!!!!!!http://www.thefreedictionary.com...
Get a dictionary.


I have said it before I will say it again. If a person is going to use a gun to kill , they are not going to get it registered , there for what good can really come out of the law that was placed on the books . All that law does is make it harder for one to defend themselves against people like this