Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sorting Through Static On Alexis

On Monday, Sept 16, 2013 at least one gunman, identified as former Sailor Aaron Alexis, entered the Navy Yard in Washington, DC and opened fire. He killed 12 people before a civilian police officer armed with an AR-15 shot him.

Aaron Alexis worked for a civilian company that had a defense contract. That contract granted Alexis limited access to the Navy Yard and a Secret clearance.

We know Alexis attempted to purchase an AR-15 days before. His background check was denied, so he purchased Vice President Joe Biden's favorite noisemaker, a shotgun. Using the shotgun, Alexis killed several people, wounding others. From one of his victims, he was able to steal a handgun.

We also know Alexis served in the US Navy. He had acquired two of the lowest service medals given in the military. Like everybody who served after Sept 11, 2001, Alexis had a National Defense Ribbon. He also has a Global War on Terror Service Medal, meaning he served in some unit that supported, directly or indirectly, units deployed in the War on Terror. Alexis fixed Navy helicopters. That is a form of support to the war effort filling GWOTSM criteria.

We also know Alexis never deployed to a war zone. So, he did not suffer the injury known as "PTSD" or "Post-Combat Stress".

One of his former shipmates described Alexis as somebody who was aware of race, but was not outwardly bigoted or racist. This in light of that former coworker's observation of the common use of racial and ethnic terms in their conversation. That shipmate was quick to point out that Alexis was rather "liberal minded" and strongly supported Obama. But this, like a lot of the data is suspect. It is just hearsay.

We also know Alexis had at least three altercations with the law. In Texas, he "accidentally" fired his weapon while cleaning it. He served in the Navy and should have had basic firearms training. So, he knew to always treat a weapon as though it is loaded and that clearing a weapon is the first step to disassembling a firearm in order to clean it. So, most military veterans won't buy that hype. He had a negligent discharge.

He had a "blackout" incident in Seattle where he was allegedly involved in an assault. Now, rumors are circulating that he may have been involved in another incident at a bar in Georgia in 2008.

There are also rumors of his having heard voices and having possible schizophrenia. Allegedly, leaked information from his medical records indicate he may have been prescribed an SSRI for depression.

Marijuana use can disqualify one for a security clearance, but not automatically. Current use or admitted adult use can. Any drug related police record usually will, as well. Other mental conditions will disqualify one, as well. PTSD will not, necessarily. Neither will depression or a prescription of weaker SSRIs. However, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder usually will. However, there are many with ADHD and OCD serving in the intelligence ranks. They are not disqualifying conditions.

As of now, we still do not know Alexis's motives. He may have been disgruntled over pay. He may not have had his contract reviewed. He may have been irked at any number of things. Heck, the voices he allegedly heard may have told him to do it. Right now, we don't know.

But we do know that only one person was shot with a 5.56 rifle round from an AR-15. That was Aaron Alexis.


The ban on firearms on military installations is a muddy one. Clinton signed the executive order in 1993 based upon a directive issued during Bush 42's administration. Civilians and military personnel residing on post can have firearms in their homes, within certain limitations. No soldier may have them in a barracks room (they have to be locked in the arms room). Soldiers under a certain rank must also keep their firearms locked in the arms room. They may take their weapons to registered ranges both on and off post (during non-duty hours).

In the case where members of 2nd BN 75th INF Regt. (RANGERS) shot up a suspected drug dealer's residence during off duty hours. In that case, the unit armorer was at the party when the drunk Rangers decided to take action. The privately owned weapons were locked in the arms room. The soldiers went and retrieved them without their commander's permission. Yes, they got in trouble, a heap of it.

Hasan kept his weapon in his private, off-post residence until the day he went on his jihad-terrorist murder spree on Fort Hood. It is still legal for law abiding citizens, be they military or civilian, to keep their lawfully owned firearms in their off-post residence. Conversely, they need to register those weapons with the military installation and get permission to bring them on post to hunt or to use the range at the Rod and Gun Club. While transporting, the weapons need to be cleared and locked with the ammunition locked in a separate container. Because gate guards, usually civilian contractors, rarely check, not everybody follows those rules all of the time, though.

So, the questions again loom as gun-grabbers want military-style firearms banned. They care less that their favorite US Supreme Court Case, Miller, decided  that the Second Amendment applied mostly to military-style firearms that could be used by a private citizen if that citizen was called to muster in the local militia.

Many on the other side question the limited ban on carrying private weapons on military installations. the argument is that trained military could have responded quicker and possibly mitigated these mass shootings. Others argue there would be more of them. Those of us who understand the founding fathers' caution and worry over standing armies more than understand the potential misuse of power behind having our standing armies walking around armed at all times.

With the limited data available, we have more and more questions than we have answers. The best course of action in preventing any recurrence of this or the Fort Hood incident is not to start stripping individual rights. It is to find out exactly what happened, how it happened, and why it happened. That way we can be more vigilant and prepared.