Five days before Sept. 16, the American people remembered those who lost their lives in the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City. A few days later, the Washington Navy Yard shooting took place. There is one question we are all asking: could the shooting have been prevented?
The answer is not a simple one, but yes, the shooting could have been prevented.
Aaron Alexis, the lone shooter of the Sept. 16 incident, held the “delusional belief that he was being controlled or influenced by electromagnetic waves,” Valerie Parlave of the FBI told CNN.
How does someone who is mentally unstable gain access to a military base?
According to the Washington Post, the federal contractors who enlisted Alexis into the Navy and gave him the security clearance in 2007 knew that he had been charged with a firearm offense in the past. The Washington Post wrote that the contractors minimized the incident, turning it into a verbal altercation instead of mentioning that the incident included the violent use of a firearm.
For a service that is meant to protect the nation, the military took a great risk when they completely lied about Alexis. Their actions prove they just wanted the credit for placing another man into the military. That is ridiculous. How can we depend on the men and women entering the military if the recruiters who put them there lie about their history?
Telling someone to check up on the criminal backgrounds of soldiers sounds horrible, but in the case of Alexis, it would have pointed out that either this man needed to have his security clearance revoked, or a further investigation needed to take place.
According to ABC News, Alexis was previously arrested for shooting out the tires of a man’s vehicle. Six years later, he was arrested again for recklessly discharging a firearm within the limits of a municipality.
Despite these events, Alexis was never put on a “watch list,” flagged, or even put under further investigation. This man needed to be investigated. In the months leading up to the attack, how did no one notice that he had become mentally unstable to such a degree that he decided to kill randomly?
Law enforcement officials told CNN that Alexis had contacted two veteran hospitals in the months prior to the attack about psychological problems. This should have raised a red flag.
In the end, there is not one exact person to blame. Many military recruiters and federal contractors work to put men and women of integrity into the military. Unfortunately, there are also those who would throw integrity out the window just to improve their own résumé.