The Navy Yard shooting that killed 12 innocent people on Monday demonstrated yet again that mass shootings in America aren't going away all by themselves. Gunman Aaron Alexis reportedly bought his gun legally in Virginia after he passed a federal background check. And while he clearly had a record of mental illness, under current federal law, he still had a right to a gun. Only people declared mentally ill by a court, which is a difficult thing to do, are prohibited from buying a gun. A mental illness diagnosis is not enough.
This week, President Obama once again reached out to Congress to take on gun control. In an interview with Telemundo, he said we need a firm background check system, for example, to make the country less vulnerable. He continued:
"I do get concerned that this becomes a ritual that we go through every three, four months, where we have these horrific mass shootings. Everybody expresses understandable horror. We all embrace the families and obviously our thoughts and prayers are with those families right now — as they're absorbing this incredible loss. And yet we're not willing to take some basic actions that we know would make a difference."
Since the Newtown massacre that left 20 children and six adults dead, there have been 17 mass shootings in the US that have killed more than four people. Many of those don't make the news. On Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he plans to prioritize gun-control legislation, however, he's not hopeful. He said: "We don't have the votes. I'd like to get them, but we don't have them now."