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.

Sport
The sun rises over St Andrews golf course, but will it be a new dawn for the Royal and Ancient Golf Club?
sportAnd it's Yes to women (at the R&A)
Arts and Entertainment
Friends is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year
tvSeries celebrates 20th anniversary
Sport
Yaya Touré (left) and Bayern Munich’s Spanish defender Juan Bernat
footballToure's lack of defensive work is big problem for City
Voices
voicesApple continually kill off smaller app developers, and that's no good for anyone
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Liam Neeson said he wouldn't
tv

Liam Neeson's Downton dreams

Sport
Wembley Stadium
footballNews follows deal with Germany
Arts and Entertainment
A spell in the sun: Emma Stone and Colin Firth star in ‘Magic in the Moonlight’
filmReview: Magic In The Moonlight
Sport
A 'Sir Alex Feguson' tattoo
football

Arts and Entertainment
Ben Whishaw is replacing Colin Firth as the voice of Paddington Bear
tv

Thriller is set in the secret world of British espionage

Life and Style
life

News
ScienceGallery: Otherwise known as 'the best damn photos of space you'll see till 2015'
Life and Style
fashion

Bomber jacket worn by Mary Berry sells out within an hour

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

Volunteer your expertise as Trustee for The Society of Experimental Biology

Unpaid Voluntary Position : Reach Volunteering: Promising volunteer Trustee op...

Email Designer

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Psychology Teacher

£110 - £130 per hour: Randstad Education Reading: Psychology Teacher needed fo...

Food Technology Teacher

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: Randstad Education are curren...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week