It is painful and tragic that 12 hardworking people at the Washington Navy Yard went to work Monday and never came home. Aaron Alexis shot 29 people before the police were able to stop him. President Obama and his allies in the liberal media jumped to blame the weapons, but there is not a single gun-control law that could have prevented that horrific massacre.
Alexis, a former Navy reservist, has been treated for at least the last month by the Department of Veterans Affairs for his severe mental problems. He was reportedly paranoid and hearing voices, which are signs of schizophrenia.
He was insane — or as the politically correct media said yesterday, he “had anger issues.” The defense contractor-turned-mass murderer also had some issue with something or someone in Building 197 in the military complex and was determined to carry out this delusional mission.
Mr. Obama said Monday that the federal government will do “everything we can to try to prevent” these mass shootings. By that, he is laying the groundwork for trying to get the 60 votes needed in the Senate for the so-called universal background check.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s organization, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, has already organized a rally at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday to push for the expanding background checks.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday, “The problem here is senators, overwhelmingly from one party, who refuse to do something very simple, which is expand the background-check system that everyone believes functions well, but needs to function better.”
That’s not accurate. Even if Mr. Obama’s “universal background-check” system was in place and every single private firearms transaction went through the federal government, it still would not have stopped the Navy Yard shooter.
Alexis passed background checks by both the FBI and the state of Virginia when he legally bought a shotgun this past weekend at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton.
He was not denied by the federal or state government because he does not have any records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) that would put him in the category of prohibited persons, which includes drug users, domestic abusers, felons and persons dishonorably discharged from the military. While he had an arrest for a firearm misdemeanor in the past, no charges were filed.
To be denied by NICS for mental health reasons, a person has to have been judged mentally deficient or have been committed to a mental institution — neither of which was the case in this situation.
If the gun grabbers would stop fixating on firearms and look at the more complicated issue of mental illness, they might actually discover a way to reduce gun violence. In the case of Alexis, I would suggest four ways authorities might have stopped this crazy person from killing so many innocent people.
First, the Department of Veterans Affairs could have locked up Alexis in a mental hospital when he said he was having psychotic delusions.
Second, the states that are refusing to put mental health records into the NICS system should be cut off from some federal funds until they do. The National Shooting Sports Foundation ranks states based on how many mental health records they have submitted to the FBI per year at FixNICS.org. It should be a map of shame for those who let deranged people buy illegal guns.
Third, the Navy could have recalled Alexis’ defense-contractor security clearance owing to mental health issues — had the severity become known from health records from the VA.
Finally, the shooter would not have been able to do as much damage if people inside the military installation were armed, a debate that came up in 2009 after the Fort Hood shooting in Texas, in which 13 were killed.
With the exception of the shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona, every other mass shooting in recent years has been in gun-free zones.
It seems bizarre that we give firearms to our military personnel and send them around the world to defend our freedom, then we bring them back home and corral them into areas without any means to defend themselves from terrorist or criminal attacks. Congress should debate the 1993 policy of banning firearms on military installations.
(Of course, the complete ban on carry rights in the District would also have to be eliminated for those who work at the Navy Yard to bear arms.)
Mass shootings are rare, averaging 18 deaths a year, but they have one common thread — severely mentally ill people who are determined to kill as many as possible and who have no fear of dying themselves.
While gun grabbers want yet more laws, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service reported in April that “potential perpetrators cannot be identified accurately” before mass shootings so “no systematic means of intervening are known to be effective.”
Mr. Obama should stop exploiting innocent people’s deaths for a political agenda that he knows won’t make anyone safer.
Emily Miller is a senior editor of opinion for The Washington Times and author of “Emily Gets Her Gun” (Regnery, 2013).