The Corner

‘Universal Background Checks’? Not So Fast . . .

UPDATE: According to the Washington Post, Aaron Alexis had a security clearance that was updated as recently as July. Moreover, NBC4 reports that Alexis bought the shotgun that he used from a licensed dealer in Virginia — passing a federal NICS background check in the process — and then stole the other two weapons from his victims.

When it was over, Alexis lay dead amid an armload of weapons. Sources told News4 that surveillance footage showed that he began his attack with a shotgun, but was found with a 9mm pistol and an AR-15 assault rifle.

NBC News correspondent Pete Williams is reporting Alexis purchased a shotgun in Lorton, Va. during the past week or so. 

So, here we have a man who passed a bunch of background checks and legally bought from a licensed dealer a weapon that is available even in England. Given their record of asking for new laws that have absolutely nothing to do with the crimes they use for emotional leverage, we should thus expect our friends on the Left to push immediately for a ban on the private sale of AR-15s and for the extension of background checks to private sales.

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If Aaron Alexis is indeed the shooter in the Navy Yard massacre, he will not serve as a particularly strong example of the apparent “need” for “universal background checks” that the failed Toomey-Manchin bill sought to meet. For a start, Alexis was discharged from the Navy in 2011. This means that, in order to join, he passed a federal background check of precisely the sort that progressives wish to extend to private firearms sales. Alexis allegedly also had a concealed-carry permit. In most states, including Texas, the CCW application process involves criminal background checks conducted at both the state and federal levels. (Alternatively, CCW permits are often issued to military personnel who have already been vetted by Uncle Sam.) If confirmed as the perpetrator, Alexis will join a long line of killers who would easily have got through a background check.

Conversely, Alexis does seem to back up the disparaged-but-reasonable line that the gun laws need enforcing not changing. According to news reports, Alexis had previously shot at his own ceiling and also shot the tires out of someone’s car in a dispute. On neither occasion was he charged.


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