Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis tried to buy an AR-15 assault rifle from a Virginia gun store last week , but the store wouldn't sell it to him right away. Alexis had first test fired the assault rifle, but when the store refused the sale, he purchased the shotgun used in Monday's Navy Yard mass murders, according to CBS News on Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Aaron Alexis tried buying the AR-15 at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Virginia, which is located about 15 miles from the Washington Navy Yard.
It's unclear whether the owner of the gun store refused the sale of the assault rifle outright, or as state law dictates delayed it. But the result was Alexis purchased the shotgun instead.
Two gun store owners in Virginia told CBS, that Alexis would have been allowed to buy an AR-15. He just wouldn't have gotten it right away, since it doesn't appear he was a legal resident of the state.
Out-of-state purchasers must show two forms of matching identification, as well as proof of citizenship. Then the assault rifle must be shipped to one's home state for a background check.
Alexis, whose last known permanent address is in Texas, bought a Remington 870 Express 12-gauge shotgun, according to The New York Times. The purchase was approved after the store owner conducted the required federal background check.
In this case, something went somewhat right with the nation's and Virginia's gun laws, since it's hard to imagine how much worse the massacre could have been had Alexis had an assault rifle.
Law enforcement officials have yet to pin down an exact motive for the mass killings, saying only that Alexis was clearly a troubled man with a history of angry outbursts.
Relatives have told investigators that the defense contractor suffered from mental problems over the past decade, and even recently sought treatment from the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Police records from Newport, R.I. show Alexis called them six weeks ago complaining he was hearing voices. He also thought people were stalking him and using some sort of microwave machine to send "vibrations into his body".
However, according to the police report, when questioned Alexis denied ever having a mental health problems. Newport police claim they told the Navy about the incident because he told them he was a Navy contractor.
Sadly, 12 people were shot to death before police killed the gunman during the rampage Monday morning in the nation's capital.
So far it's unclear whether the Navy ever followed up on the information from Rhode Island.