Navy Yard gunman appears to have slipped through gun law seams
WASHINGTON — The gunman in the mass shootings at the Washington Navy Yard, Aaron Alexis, had a history of violent outbursts, was at least twice accused of firing guns in anger and was in the early stages of treatment for serious mental problems, according to court records and U.S. law enforcement officials.
But Alexis apparently managed to exploit seams in the nation’s patchwork of complicated gun laws designed to keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people. He was able to buy a shotgun in Virginia with out-of-state identification, even though that would have prevented him from buying a handgun.
It is illegal for gun dealers to sell handguns to such out-of-state buyers, but the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act, passed by Congress in 1986, opened up interstate sales for shotguns and rifles. Virginia gun laws require only that an out-of-state buyer show valid identification, pass a background check and otherwise abide by state laws in order to buy a shotgun in the state. Alexis was never prosecuted for the two misdemeanors involving guns.
Alexis bought the shotgun at Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va. on Saturday, according to a statement from the attorney for the gun range.
Michael Slocum said in an email that Alexis rented a rifle, bought bullets and used the range before buying the shotgun and 24 shells. Slocum said Alexis passed a federal background check.
NJ boardwalk fire linked to damaged wiring
TOMS RIVER, N.J. (AP) — The massive fire that destroyed part of a Jersey shore boardwalk and dozens of businesses began accidentally in wiring damaged in Superstorm Sandy, and should prompt coastal property owners to get their own equipment inspected for similar danger, officials said Tuesday.
The boardwalk fire in Seaside Park and Seaside Heights started Thursday in aged wiring that had been compromised by salt water and sand during the Oct. 29 storm, federal and county investigators said at a news conference. The wind-whipped blaze destroyed more than 50 businesses in the two towns.
Ocean County Prosecutor Joseph Coronato said the fire should be a cautionary tale.
“I’m sure on every boardwalk everywhere (at the Jersey shore), there may be compromised wiring,” he said. “We don’t want to start a panic mode. We just want to be reasonable. If you’re a property owner and you think your electrical work came in contact with water and sand, we strongly recommend you have it inspected.”
Republican opposition to Obamacare flares
WASHINGTON — Implacable Republican opposition to Obamacare has Congress once more veering closer to gridlock.
In the House, more than 60 conservatives support tacking a one-year delay in implementing the health care law onto a bill needed to prevent a partial government shutdown Oct. 1.
Senior leaders warn the GOP could suffer significant political reverses if the party goes along with the plan and President Barack Obama and Democrats resist, as they have made clear they will, but it is strongly backed by senators with tea party ties and their influential allies outside Congress. Its leading advocate, Rep. Tom Graves of Georgia, said the proposal unifies the rank and file “around two objectives we have, keeping the government open and protecting our constituents from the harmful effects of Obamacare.”
Across the Capitol, where energy legislation is under debate, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to add a one-year delay in the requirements for individuals to purchase coverage and for businesses to provide it to their employees. Obama has already ordered the postponement for businesses.
By wire sources