Aaron Alexis will no longer suffer the torment of his nightmares and his paranoia. The Washington Navy Yard shooter who gunned down 20 workers, killing 12 before he himself was killed was a walking example of the link between mental illness and the gun control debate.
Before we start taking guns away from everyone, it seems we should focus on those who truly pose a potential threat. Otherwise we’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Instead, the Navy in its so-called background security check covered up Alexis’ previous criminal record where he had acted like a madman in Seattle in 2004 and shot out someone’s tires over a parking space argument. He claimed the other person had put an unknown substance in his gas tank.
In September 2008 he was in jail for a disorderly conduct arrest outside a nightclub in Georgia. In 2009 he was arrested when he discharged his firearm in his apartment.
When a check of Alexis' fingerprints disclosed the Seattle police incident, it triggered a follow-up interview for the security clearance. An OPM memo about the interview included multiple questions about debts he failed to pay and problems with collection agencies. In each case, the memo noted that Alexis was having financial troubles, was arranging repayment plans and only he and his mother knew of the debts.
"The subject does not feel that knowledge of any of his financial issues could be used against him for blackmail or coercion," the memo said.
The fact that Alexis did not disclose the debts on his security form was dismissed in the memo, which noted that he answered "no" to the questions because he was working on payment plans and thought the issues would be resolved. He also answered "no" to questions about his police record, including whether he had been arrested, charged, convicted or issued a summons, citation or ticket to appear in court in a criminal proceeding.
Instead, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) simply stated he had “deflated the tires” and issued him a secret-level security clearance and access to a “secure” naval base. Who conducted this background check – the OPM or U.S. Investigations Services (USIS), a private sub-contractor? Either no one knows or is not saying.
The focus is on whether someone is a treason threat rather than a potential killer.
Many of the shooters in the schools, work places or public places are committed by people who clearly should have raised red flags of mental illness issues. If these people had been prevented from their heinous acts, we wouldn’t be having a gun control debate.
And yet … how do we go about such screening without becoming like the old Soviet Union which dumped political dissidents into mental asylums and gulags? The current fear is if you ever go see a psychiatrist or counselor you automatically get placed on the “loony list.” This will only drive the problem deeper underground. Police officers who in the line of duty kill a suspect undergo counseling because it’s a traumatic event not only to the suspect but to the officer.
It’s a lot like abortion. While I abhor it, I think that in a perfect world there would be no unwanted children at all; they would be kept or adopted and loved by all those compassionate conservatives. Do these same conservatives really want the government dictating what is or is not done inside our bodies? It’s a really sticky dilemma.
The process of who or who not to label as a “gun threat” is equally complex and full of danger, especially in this world of 24/7 government/corporate surveillance of all we do. You might be amazed to see who is considered a “potential terrorist” or “enemy of the sate” as described in official government documents which I have obtained and you’ll read about in my next column.
I’d guess that 90% of Hickman County residents fall into one of these 72 categories and could be on a “terrorist list” or future no-gun list.
©2013 by Jim Moore. All rights reserved.