September 23, 2013
WAYNE LAPIERRE ON NAVY YARD SHOOTINGS: There weren’t enough good guys with guns.
Not even a SWAT team, whose mysterious stand-down order remains unexplained.
(1) Contrary to some initial news reports, Alexis did not use an AR-15 assault rifle. Rather, he used a shotgun, which he brought with him, and a pistol he appears to have taken from an armed guard at the Navy Yard. So, arguments about banning “military-style assault rifles” don’t fit this particular — still tragic — narrative.
(2) Alexis had a Secret security clearance. More than a simple criminal background check, the procedure requires a few months to a year of investigation. So, the usual arguments about basic background checks for gun ownership preventing tragedies of this sort don’t fit this narrative either.
So, what does fit? What changes to law and policy can we talk about in the aftermath of this week’s tragedy?
We need to have some tough conversations about identifying severely mentally ill individuals, treating them for those conditions involuntarily if necessary, and warehousing them, if absolutely no other therapeutic option remains. Historical precedents teach that these issues can be easily mishandled. That fact, though, does not mean that we don’t need to do our best to handle them properly now.
We must also have some uncomfortable conversations about pharmacological treatment of mental illness and the liabilities that come with prescribing drugs that may affect individual patients in difficult-to-predict ways.