Navy Yard shooting: Va. gun laws questioned after massacre

Photo: The Associated Press

LORTON, Va. (WJLA) - In the aftermath of Monday’s Navy Yard shootings, gun control critics are once again raising questions about Virginia’s gun laws. Aaron Alexis bought the shotgun used in the attack over the weekend at a gun shop in Lorton.

It is the gun store now forever connected with the Navy Yard shooting, but the attorney for Sharpshooters says the store is not to blame for the tragedy.

“The dealer is always going to get some questions of whether they followed the rules. The easy answer here is yes, yes they did,” says Michael Slocum.

Slocum says on Saturday, Alexis visited Sharpshooters, where he rented an AR-15 rifle, bought ammunition, and then used the firing range.

Slocum says Alexis did not attempt to buy an assault rifle, but did ask about purchasing a handgun.

Alexis was told that as an out of state resident, the firearm would have to be delivered to his home state of Texas. Instead, Alexis bought a Remington 870 Express shotgun and ammunition, a purchase approved following state and federal background checks in just four minutes.

“It was an ordinary transaction. Happens hundreds of times a day,” says Slocum.

“I made a commitment after Virginia Tech that I was going to do something,” says Andrew Goddard, whose son Colin survived the Virginia Tech massacre.

Goddard joined other families victimized by gun violence at the Capitol Wednesday. They called the Navy Yard shooting yet another example of the need for expanded background checks.

“Will it solve all problems? No. Will it solve mass shootings? Rarely. But will it bring down 30,000 deaths a year to something lower? Probably,” Goddard says.

At Blue Ridge Arsenal in Chantilly, owner Earl Curtis says tighter gun laws are not the answer. What needs to happen, he says, is for more information to be included in current checks, like the gun-related charges and mental health issue connected to Alexis.

“Unfortunately his info wasn’t in his background check and it should have been because he never would have been allowed to purchase that gun,” Curtis says.