How Gun Laws Factor Into The Navy Yard Shooting

Twelve people died and several others were injured on Monday at the Navy Yard in Washington, DC, at the hands of alleged gunman Aaron Alexis. Originally of Fort Worth, Texas, Alexis was a military contractor. He was killed as authorities sought control of the crime scene early Monday.

Details are leaking out about Alexis and they point to a disturbing history of gun violence.

According to his hometown newspaper, The Star-Telegram, Alexis has had previous gun-related incidents:

Tarrant County court records show Alexis was arrested in September 2010 for allegedly discharging a firearm within a municipality. The records do not indicate that Alexis was ever formally charged in the case.

Later that same month, Tarrant County court records show that The Orion at Oak Hill apartments in Fort Worth began eviction efforts against Alexis.

Alexis’s former roommate told told the Star-Telegram that the gunman owned a semiautomatic weapon and a concealed handgun license.


Under federal law, it’s very likely that Alexis was still able to legally posses a firearm. Permanent bans on gun ownership are only handed out to very specific groups of people including felons, domestic abusers, and the seriously mentally ill. Some states, like California (PDF), have laws that more strictly limit gun purchases for people with certain firearms charges, but Texas isn’t one of these states. In fact, in nearly half of states, officials are still able to give a handgun permit to someone with a history like Alexis’s.

If reports from the scene are right, however, Alexis’s gun possession Monday was illegal no matter his gun history. News outlets indicate that Alexis had as many as three weapons, including a semi-automatic AR15. The AR15 is banned in DC.

The AR 15 has been the focal point of much controversy over gun laws, since it qualified under the expired Assault Weapons Ban. AR15s were also used in the horrific shooting at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado last year that left 12 dead and 58 injured. An AR15-style Bushmaster was also used in the tragic massacre of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Connecticut last year. One of the gun regulations President Obama proposed earlier this year would outlaw the sale of AR15s and other military-grade weapons.


The Seattle police department is now reporting that Alexis was arrested there in 2004 after shooting out the tires of a car in a rage-fueled “blackout.” Their report also states that Alexis told officers there he was present during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.


This post has been updated to reflect the fact that authorities no longer believe there was a second gunman.


The newest information reveals that Alexis did not use an AR-15 in the massacre.