As sure as the sound of thunder follows a flash of lightning, the Washington Navy Yard shooting triggered predictable demands from liberal gun-control advocates to resurrect the effort to restrict Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans. “But as details about the shooter's background emerged,” The Huffington Post noted Thursday, “another debate ensued:"
Should Congress be focusing their attention on mental health legislation instead?
It's the same point Examiner addressed Wednesday, and will now discuss further.
Among the 10 circumstances listed in the Gun Control Act of 1968 -- which “prohibits dealers from selling any firearm or ammunition" -- the three that apply to the Navy Yard shooting regard "any person who is."
a. convicted of or under indictment for a felony
c. adjudicated as a mental defective or who has been committed to any mental institution.
I. dishonorably discharged from the armed forces
While Examiner noted that Aaron Alexis was arrested in Seattle for shooting at a parked car in what he called an "anger-fueled blackout" in 2004 -- he was not “convicted of or under indictment for a felony.”
While Alexis had been treated by the Veterans Administration for paranoia, insomnia and possible schizophrenia in August -- he was never “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to any mental institution.”
While Alexis was arrested in September 2010 by Fort Worth police -- after claiming he “accidentally fired a bullet into the apartment above him while cleaning his gun with slippery hands and prosecutors determined that there wasn’t enough evidence to bring a recklessness case -- the Navy granted him an “honorable discharge,” which maintained his security clearance and the “valid security pass” he used to get into the Navy Yard.
As The Huffington Post noted, “there within lies the problem.”
“Although Aaron Alexis' past is littered with legal and medical red flags,” USA Today noted Tuesday, “there was nothing that prohibited him from legally obtaining the shotgun.”
It was the system-wide failure to acknowledge and report the seriousness Alexis’ near decade-long history of escalating violence and mental problems, which would have added his name to the Federal Bureau of Investigation/Department of Justice National Instant Criminal Background Check System and prevented him from buying a shotgun in the first place.
The Hill reported Tuesday that, while “some lawmakers have talked about the possibility of moving a bill narrowly tailored to focus on mental illness,” Democrat Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid “said it was not practical to separate it from expanded background checks.
No you can’t. You have to have background checks.
As The Hill reported April 17, the “compromise” bill on expanded background checks failed in the Democrat-controlled Senate “by a vote of 54 to 46, with five Democrats voting against it."
While President Barack Obama, and White House Press Secretary Jay Carney continue to blame Republicans, an April 16 report by The Washington Times -- citing a host of flaws in the rejected “compromise” amendment crafted by West Virginia Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin, and Pennsylvania Republican Sen. Pat Toomey -- determined that the bill would “not reduce crime or prevent mass shootings, but merely appeases President Obama while abridging Second Amendment rights.”
“We’re going to move this up as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to have the votes first,” The Hill further quoted Reid telling reporters. “We don’t have the votes. I hope we get them, but we don’t have them now.”
Background checks. We want to stop people who have mental illness from buying a gun. We want to stop people who are felons from being able to purchase a gun.
What good will come of an effort to expand background checks if the names of mentally ill individuals like Alexis are never entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System?
Following 20-year-old Dylan Quick’s April 10 “stabbing rampage,” during which he wounded 14 people on the Lone Star College's CyFair campus in Texas, Dr. Keith Ablow -- “one of America’s leading psychiatrists” and “board certified in adult, adolescent and child psychiatry” -- noted for Fox News that “it always comes down to mental illness.”
“After years of America destroying its mental health care system,” Ablow asserted, “cases of undiagnosed and untreated mental illness are to blame for the horrific episodes of violence that have made headlines and wrongly fueled gun control legislation.”
“This is true for Jared Lee Loughner, who shot Congressman Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson, Arizona. It is true for James Holmes, the man accused of murdering 12 people in a Colorado movie theatre. It is true for Adam Lanza, the man who murdered 20 children and 6 adults at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.”
As Examiner noted, “it is true for Alexis.”
"Take all the guns away,” Ablow challenged. “Take all the knives away. The number of victims of murders with no apparent motive—born of under-treated, poorly treated or untreated mental illness—will be reduced not one bit.
“Because there will still be cars, and poisons, and hammers, and axes that can be used to inflict horrible injuries. The worst episode of school violence, back in 1927, claimed the lives of 38 children, and it involved explosives, not guns or knives.”
On Dec. 15, 2012 – the day after the Newtown shooting -- author, college professor and one of the nation's leading gun experts John R. Lott told Newsmax that gun-free zones are “a magnet” for deranged killers who hope to become famous by running up a big body count.
On Nov. 11, 2009 – six days after the Fort Hood shooting – an editorial in The Washington Times reported noted that “President Clinton’s first acts upon taking office in 1993 was to disarm U.S. soldiers on military bases.”
In March 1993, the Army imposed regulations forbidding military personnel from carrying their personal firearms and making it almost impossible for commanders to issue firearms to soldiers in the U.S. for personal protection. For the most part, only military police regularly carry firearms on base, and their presence is stretched thin by high demand for MPs in war zones.
“Time after time,” The Washington Times noted, “public murder sprees occur in “gun-free zones” - public places where citizens are not legally able to carry guns.”
Fort Hood Army base in Texas was no different.
Neither was the Navy Yard in Washington.
Of course, Robin Abcarian -- a Los Angeles Times columnist from the state with the toughest gun laws –disagrees.
In her Sept. 16 op-ed for The Chicago Tribune -- the top newspaper in a city that fellow Los Angeles Times web reporter Michael Muskal acknowledged in his Sept. 20 Chicago Tribune report as being “dubbed the nation’s murder capital because of its high rate of violence” – Abcarian avoided the issue of mental illness and insisted that the Navy Yard shooting is “a time for gun control.”
Rather than seeing the deaths of 12 people at the Navy Yard as a time to address the common denominator of mental illness in mass shootings, Abcarian chose to play the race card -- saying every time a “workplace, schoolyard, movie theater or place of worship is turned into an abattoir by a murderous soul” with “a semiautomatic gun,” they are “almost always a white male” – and to insist it’s “exactly the right time to point out the insanity of American gun culture and the reflexively obnoxious move by the NRA and its supporters to stifle not just rational gun control legislation but debate.”
“The Navy Yard shooting, by the way,” Abcarian scoffed, “is the country’s 79th mass shooting since 1983.”
"By the way," Abcarian, Alexis was black -- and used a shotgun.
Wasn't it Vice President Joe “I guarantee you Barack Obama ain’t taking my shotguns, so don’t buy that malarkey” Biden -- which Examiner noted Dec. 22, 2012 had been appointed by Obama to head his Commission on Gun Violence -- “who advised Americans that “you don't need an AR-15” and suggested they “buy a shotgun" because they are easier to “aim?”
According to Abcarian, “there is no mass shooting devastating enough, disgusting enough or shocking enough that the U.S. Congress would be moved to enact reasonable gun legislation like the measures proposed in April by President Obama after 20 first-graders were mowed down last year in Newtown, Conn.
Aside from the Obama’s effort to expand background checks – which would “not reduce crime or prevent mass shootings” – The Washington Post reported Dec. 17 that Connecticut already had “some of the nation's strictest gun laws."
“Those laws,” Examiner noted further in Dec. 2012, “didn't ‘make America safer’ for the 20 children and six educators killed by Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School Dec. 14, 2012.
But let’s address Abcarian's charge of Obama's “reasonable legislation.”
On Jan. 16, 2013 – over a year after the Newtown shooting -- Obama also unveiled his “plan” -- ironically titled, “Now is the Time” – “to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.”
A. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of the dangerous hands;
B. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common sense steps to reduce gun violence;
C. Making schools safer; and
D. Increasing access to mental health services.
The same day, the Department of Education announced Obama’s “new plan to keeps” (yes, the wording on the DOE website reads, “to keeps”) “guns out of the wrong hands, make schools safer, and increase access to mental health services.”
The “new plan” -- “to better protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence in America” -- was reiterated by Organizing for Action, the president’s agenda fundraising team, formerly known as the president’s reelection campaign fundraising team, Obama for America.
“We have to tell Congress it’s time to strengthen school safety and help people struggling with mental health problems get the treatment they need before it’s too late,” Obama said April 8, 2013, nearly four months after he waited over a year to introduce “Now is the Time.”
In the meantime, another mentally ill individual slipped through the bureaucratic cracks, bought a shotgun and killed 12 more Americans left defenseless by the very gun-control laws Abcarian and other gun-control advocates insist will make America safer.
“Leaders either fix things, do nothing or harm needed efforts,” Ablow concluded. “Those who would control weapons, instead of mental illness, are in the third category.”
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