Washington Navy Yard shooting: Should authorities have paid closer attention to Aaron Alexis following two previous ‘gun rage’ investigations?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Mass shooting will inevitably spark fresh debate over increased gun legislation

The mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard that left 13 people dead yesterday will inevitably spark fresh debate over increased gun legislation in the US.

There are already huge questions over why a man with a history of anger-management issues was ever given security clearance to work on a military site having previously been dismissed from the Navy reserves for “a pattern of misconduct”.

But perhaps even more worrying it is the fact that Aaron Alexis had been investigated for two “gun rage”-type incidents in the past, only to have been released without indictment or conviction in both instances on grounds that appeared not to recognise the dangers of brandishing a gun in anger.

In 2004, Alexis was accused of shooting out the rear tires of a vehicle carrying two construction workers who he claimed had looked at him in a way that “mocked” and “disrespected” him.

Despite admitting to having had an “anger-fuelled blackout” during the incident, the case against Alexis was dropped when he claimed to be suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder brought on after acting as a rescue worker during the September 11 attacks.

While living in Texas in 2010, shortly after a “terrifying” confrontation between Alexis and a female neighbour over noise allegedly coming from her upstairs flat, the Navy reserve fired a gun through his ceiling with the bullet narrowly missing the woman.

Alexis claimed that the gun had gone off accidentally while cleaning it, and excused the fact he hadn’t gone to check on or apologise to his neighbour by stating he’d wrongly assumed the bullet wouldn’t have penetrated her floor.

Texan authorities investigating the incident quickly dismissed it, arguing that there was not enough evidence to corroborate the women’s belief the gunshot was deliberate, and also, somewhat bizarrely, that Alexis had not behaved recklessly in allowing the gun to go off while cleaning it, despite the fact he’d presumably left it loaded and cocked, and the stray bullet subsequently entered his neighbour’s flat.

Yesterday, when Alexis began taking lives at Washington’s Navy Yard, he was engaged in the 79th mass shooting (as defined by the Congressional Research Service) since 1983.

After almost every incident, the conservative pro-gun lobby argues that firearm ownership remains essential to personal freedom in the United States, and the argument for greater gun legislation is a political one and not in the interest of law-abiding citizens who carry weapons for their own protection.

Following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut last December, in which 20 first-grade pupils and six members of staff were killed by gun-wielding Adam Lanza, Barack Obama confirmed gun control would be a “central issue” at the start of his second term as US President.

A bill to increase restrictions on gun ownership failed earlier this year however, amid National Rifle Association-led arguments Obama was trying to politically “demonise firearms”, and accusations the families of Sandy Hook victims were engaged in a dangerously “emotional” stunt by arguing in favour of gun control.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Sport
football This was Kane’s night, even if he played just a small part of it
Travel
travel Dreamland Margate, Britain’s oldest amusement park, is set to reopen
News
news
News
Founders James Brown and Tim Southwell with a mock-up of the first ever ‘Loaded’ magazine in 1994
media
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Threlfall says: 'I am a guardian of the reality keys. I think I drive directors nuts'
people
Voices
voices The group has just unveiled a billion dollar plan to help nurse the British countryside back to health
News
The Westgate, a gay pub in the centre of Gloucester which played host to drag queens, has closed
news
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: New Lift Sales Executive - Lift and Elevators

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A challenging opportunity for a...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss