Naval Yard Shooting: How can we prevent something like this from happening again?

As most of us know on Monday September 16th, a gunman and twelve victims were shot and killed in a Naval Yard shooting in Washington D.C., three miles from the White House and one and half miles from the U.S. Capitol. The gunman was Aaron Alexis, a former member of the Navy who had been discharged because of “repeated incidents and arrests”. This raises many  questions for citizens concerned about their safety. How and where did Alexis get his gun from? How did he gain access to the Naval Yard? And most importantly, how can we prevent this from happening in the future? RAWR

Alexis was arrested in September of 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas for discharging a firearm. He had shot a hole through his apartment neighbor’s floor and ceiling. He claimed it to be an accident and that the gun went off while he was cleaning it.  In 2008, he was cited for disorderly conduct in Georgia. Alexis has also been arrested in 2004 in Seattle, Washington for shooting out someone’s car tires in a fit of rage. The police decided the incident was a cause of his PTSD from 9/11 and anger management issues. On top of that, while on a business trip in Newport, Rhode Island Alexis told Newport police that he was being followed and whoever was following him was sending vibrations through his body and he was hearing voices in his head. The Newport police contacted the Naval police out of concern. So how did this happen?

Alexis’s gun that he entered the naval yard with was legally obtained in Virginia. In Virginia they do require a background check using the computerized National Instant Background Check System in order to buy a firearm, but they do not require any kind of mental stability test. Here is a wikihow on how to purchase a gun in Virginia. Alexis had security clearing to get into the naval base via his employer. He was hired by a private company called The Experts as an information technology contractor to work on a project at the Naval facility. After the shooting the Pentagon and White house promised to review the security of military installations around the nation and the world. It was discovered that a security lapse accidently gave 52 convicted felons access to naval facilities due to budget cuts not allowing for more detailed background checks.

 Tightening gun laws has been a hot topic lately because of shootings that not only happened in Washington D.C. but also Aurora, Colorado and Blacksburg, Virginia in the last couple years. I believe this is a bigger problem than just a gun laws will fix. In all of these examples the shooters were suspect of having a mental illness and that is where the bigger problem lies.  More than half of all Americans with a mental illness are not receiving treatment and many that are receiving help are receiving it in jail. Trapped-Mental-Illness-in-Prison-025Cook County Jail in Chicago is the institute that houses the most mentally ill people in the country; “Jails are the new insane asylums” says Cook County Sheriff. To learn more about the link between mentally ill people and crime watch this 60 minute video or visit this webpage to learn more about the treatment of mentally ill people in jail. So what about the mentally ill Americans that are not in jail? Insane asylums were shut down in sixties for being inhumane so diagnosed mentally ill Americans have no where to turn to. Insane asylums need to reopened but with many more regulations and held to higher standards than in early years before asylums were closed. If mentally ill people are not receiving help or are not diagnosed how can states stop them from purchasing a gun? Along with a background checks, states can require MMPIs be given to those wanting to purchase guns. The Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory is the most research and most commonly used mental illness test to date and only takes twenty minutes to fill out. This additional step to legally obtain a weapon could have stopped Aaron Alexis from purchasing the weapon he used to kill twelve innocent people. I believe that if MMPIs were administered to those purchasing guns and Insane Asylums are reopened, mass shooting will become more of an anomaly and less of a common occurrence in America.

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