I can tell you several things that did not cause the Washington Navy Yard shootings last week: AR-15s, video games, and partisanship. On the flip side, I can tell you what contributed to the massacre: mental instability, poor security, and a failure of the vaunted background-check system.
In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, before the blood had even dried, liberals and the media howled that Aaron Alexis used an AR-15. This, of course, led to immediate calls from the usual talking heads, such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, and President Obama, to ban assault weapons. But Alexis did not use an AR-15, he used a shotgun, the same type of weapon used in the Columbine massacre, and Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s recommended gun-of-choice.
Strange that the gun used in more mass shooting incidents is not the one that liberals are demanding be banned. I guess that is simply an oversight on their part or confirmation of bias.
Alexis shot two guards with the shotgun, grabbed their pistols and used them to mow down more victims. No law that the left has espoused could stopped such an act.
Not much longer after the liberals blamed a gun that was not used, the Drudge Report attempted to get conservatives in a tizzy about violent video games. The United Kingdom’s Daily Mirror, a source on par with the National Enquirer, received the top headline link for a story claiming Alexis played games up to 18 hours a day, noting in particular the massively popular “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” games.
As usual, we have a case of correlation, not causation. Millions of people worldwide play video games. Less than 0.0000001 percent of those become mass murderers. Applying the same stupid logic: most Americans watch football, but for some reason, no one foolishly correlates football viewership with mass shooting, even though I bet 100 percent of those murderers watched football.
You also usually see pundits quickly looking for political or religious reasons for these types of shootings. Alexis was apparently a Democrat and Obama supporter, as well as a Buddhist. What does that tell us? Nothing. Those who carry out jihads or political assassination declare their allegiances before (through notes and conversations), during, or after (if they survive). Nidal Hassan was attempting jihad at Fort Hood and Timothy McVeigh was anti-government. Alexis, like Newtown shooter Adam Lanza, was crazy. There is no explaining crazy.
When I say crazy, I mean Alexis was hearing voices and had been treated for mental disorders. He had been treated several times by Veterans Administration hospitals for physiological issues, and he even called the police a few days before the shooting to complain about the voices, but no one did anything. Maybe if people took initiative when obvious mental disorders are being reported, we may have avoided this and other such incidents.
Instead, we have government officials whose job it is to treat mental issues failing their patients, and lawmen who are supposed to protect and serve laughing off such calls or simply refusing to investigate for fear of paperwork and getting involved in less glamorous work.
I am not suggesting we go the way of the movie “Minority Report” and its pre-crime unit, but there are certainly laws and capabilities that can prevent crime rather than just react to it. Some will quickly point to banning guns as the answer, but until the Second Amendment is repealed, such calls are just spitting in the wind. Other effective methods can and must be tried. I can tell you this: a man with a history of mental illness and two arrests for gun-related incidents should not come up “all clear” in a quick background check to buy a shotgun.
Lastly, if you buy into the myths perpetuated by the followers of Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks, the NSA and other U.S. government agencies spend all their time prying into every single email and phone call looking for terrorists, both foreign and domestic. If they are so invasive, how did they miss Alexis? A man with a poor military service record, two arrests, and mental issues should never have received a secret clearance.
Perhaps it was too obvious. Or maybe Big Brother is so caught up in looking in the shadows or reading through your sordid emails that he cannot properly read reports on candidates for clearance when they land on his desk. Or maybe despite its overreach, Big Brother is more like Somewhat Attentive Cousin. That does not mean we need more Big Brother, but we do need the government to do its job and properly vet those who are going to be in sensitive positions.
In the end, what we have is a horrific phenomenon that has no easy answers. By now, the media should know better than to jump to conclusions and report fallacies. Also, pundits and politicians must stop trying to blame pop culture, weapons and ideologies that are not part of the causation. Instead, we need to start taking mental illness seriously, enforce laws we already have, and demand more accountability from our government and officials whose job it is to treat, protect, and/or investigate.
• Armstrong Williams is the author of the book “Reawakening Virtues.” Join him from 4 to 5 a.m. and 6 to 7 p.m. daily on Sirius/XM Power 128. Become a fan on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.