Did the Navy Yard shooter try to buy an AR-15?

posted at 9:21 am on September 18, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

That’s what the New York Times reported yesterday, after gun-control demagoguesin the media had to at least partially retract their claims that the shooter used an AR-15 to murder 12 people.  It took them several hours to acknowledge the FBI’s report that no AR-15 was used at all in the crime, nor did the shooter have one in his possession.  According to “law enforcement sources” talking to the Times, Aaron Alexis got turned down in his attempt to buy a so-called assault weapon:

The suspect in the killing of 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday test-fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out-of-state buyers, according to two senior law enforcement officials.

Instead, the suspect, Aaron Alexis of Texas, bought a law-enforcement-style shotgun — an 870 Remington pump-action — and used it on Monday as he rampaged through the navy yard, said the officials, who requested anonymity because the investigation was continuing.

Emily Miller of the Washington Times dispensed with law-enforcement sources and spoke directly to the store that sold Alexis the shotgun.  She found that the shooter passed two background checks and bought a shotgun with a small amount of ammunition, but never attempted to purchase an AR-15, or any kind of rifle or pistol either:

Aaron Alexis passed Federal Bureau Investigation and Virginia state background checks to purchase a shotgun from Sharpshooters Small Arms Range in Lorton, Va., over the weekend.

Alexis did not attempt to purchase a rifle or handgun from the store, The Washington Times has learned exclusively.

Furthermore, contra the Paper of Record, no such law in Virginia would have prevented the sale of an AR-15 to an out-of-state purchaser that passes those background checks:

The first line says: “The gunman who killed 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday test fired an AR-15 assault rifle at a Virginia gun store last week but was stopped from buying one because state law there prohibits the sale of such weapons to out-of-state buyers, according to two senior law enforcement officials.”

Apparently neither the reporter nor his editors took the time to fact check their vague “law enforcement officials” sources.

“Virginia law does not prohibit the sale of assault rifles to out-of-state citizens who have proper identification,” Dan Peterson, a Virginia firearms attorney, told me Tuesday night. The required identification is proof of residency in another state and of U.S. citizenship, which can be items like a passport, birth certificate or voter identification card.

Miller writes that federal law is also clear on this point:

Federal law is clear on this residency issue. A quick glance at the ATF website would have informed the New York Times journalists that a person may buy a rifle or shotgun, in person, at a federal firearms licensee’s premises in any state, provided the sale complies with state laws, which it would in this case.

Perhaps they were confused with the federal law on handguns, which can only be sold or transferred through dealers in the same state as the buyer.

Perhaps the media might try a little fact-checking before reporting, especially in its news sections.  Of course, for media outlets like the New York Times, accuracy is often secondary to pushing the narrative.

Addendum: NPR managed to get this right:

Aaron Alexis, the man police say killed 12 people Monday at the Washington Navy Yard, went to a gun store and shooting range in suburban Northern Virginia the day before, an attorney for the shop has told NPR.

On Morning EditionNPR’s Joseph Shapiro reported that The Sharpshooters Range in Lorton, Va., ran Alexis’ name through the FBI and state of Virginia background check system. Alexis was approved and he purchased a Remington 870 shotgun and about 24 shells, Joe says.

Alexis also rented a rifle and practiced shooting at the shop’s range.

The Media Narrative Collective will want a word with Mark Memmott, I’m sure.  Piers Morgan on line 3, Mark!


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It would have been ironic that even if he wanted to buy a AR-15 the store was out of ammo for it.

tjexcite on September 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

With the scarcity of ammo we experienced (to a certain extent still do), that would be a real possibility, especially for the AR-15

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:02 PM

Furthermore, contra the Paper of Record, no such law in Virginia would have prevented the sale of an AR-15 to an out-of-state purchaser that passes those background checks:
– ED

Ed –
This seems incorrect, as does much of what you go on to report after that line.
Seems to be NY Times is making some errors here…and you are as well.
(See Socratease on September 18, 2013 at 12:45 PM, in response to my comment seeking clarification on this detail.)
As he points out, this would have been Federal and not VA law, but regardless would have in fact prevented such a purchase.

I’m curious what in fact the ‘two senior law enforcement officials’ did in fact tell the NYT reporter – and what he got wrong there.

verbaluce on September 18, 2013 at 1:04 PM

I’m dissapointed in you guys.

You havent found a way to make him one of those scary MUSLIMS yet.

Ill keep checking. I know one of you souls will figure out a connection to justify your selves.

:)

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Ive seen one of you post that he was an Obama supporter therefore liberal therefore mass murderer.

Good job there.

I wonder what kind of watch, shoes, shirt, and cologne he was wearing. All of those companies are complicit in his actions!

NIKE SUPPORTS MURDER!

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Oh dear the resident imbecile seems concerned…

Murphy9 on September 18, 2013 at 1:10 PM

It would have been ironic that even if he wanted to buy a AR-15 the store was out of ammo for it.

tjexcite on September 18, 2013 at 12:58 PM

With the scarcity of ammo we experienced (to a certain extent still do), that would be a real possibility, especially for the AR-15

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:02 PM

I was in Sharpshooters about four weeks ago and they had tons of 223. I don’t want to call them now and ask because they’re probably getting hammered by calls from every annoying media nitwit in the country and don’t need any more calls. But if this guy really wanted an AR and accompanying ammo, I really don’t think he would have left Sharpshooters empty-handed.

He probably just wanted a shotgun for whatever reason.

WhatSlushfund on September 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

I’m dissapointed in you guys.
 
You havent found a way to make him one of those scary MUSLIMS yet.
 
Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

 

Ive seen one of you post that he was an Obama supporter therefore liberal therefore mass murderer.
 
Good job there.
 
Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

 
Wow. Not a minute apart.

rogerb on September 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Where was your outrage when Sarah Palin was erroneously blamed for the Tucson shootings by liberal Jared Loughner?

sentinelrules on September 18, 2013 at 1:13 PM

I’m dissapointed in you guys.

You havent found a way to make him one of those scary MUSLIMS yet.

Ill keep checking. I know one of you souls will figure out a connection to justify your selves.

:)

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

Well he was a Buddhist. Maybe he was one of the violent ones.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 18, 2013 at 1:19 PM

He probably just wanted a shotgun for whatever reason.

WhatSlushfund on September 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

It seems like the reason was pretty evident now that we know what it was used for.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

He probably just wanted a shotgun for whatever reason.

WhatSlushfund on September 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

It seems like the reason was pretty evident now that we know what it was used for.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic. But to be clear, I just mean that for some reason it looks like he chose a shotgun as opposed to an AR. In other words, I doubt his choice was driven by a limitation of options.

WhatSlushfund on September 18, 2013 at 1:30 PM

He probably just wanted a shotgun for whatever reason.

WhatSlushfund on September 18, 2013 at 1:12 PM

It seems like the reason was pretty evident now that we know what it was used for.

Dr. Frank Enstine on September 18, 2013 at 1:21 PM

As I said above, an AR-15 prices out at nearly a grand. An 870 is less than half that. He may have just bought what he could afford. The 870 is also easy to break down into two shorter pieces in a matter of seconds. Reportedly he brought the gun in that way in a bag. So that may have been the reason. Arguably the 870 is a better choice for CQB, so that may have been the reason, or a reason. We’ll probably never know what the “reasoning” was, and after all the guy was psychotic in the first place.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 1:38 PM

As I said above, an AR-15 prices out at nearly a grand. An 870 is less than half that.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Prices for AR’s have come way down. It has been a while since I have seen an AR for anywhere over a grand.

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

No apparently he is one of those scary (???) Buddhists. I think he was doing it wrong.

Cindy Munford on September 18, 2013 at 1:46 PM

As I said above, an AR-15 prices out at nearly a grand

http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/product_info.php/products_id/69657/Bushmaster+CAR15+223+16+BSH+REDDOT

not the best out there, but it’ll do the trick.

Renee on September 18, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Prices for AR’s have come way down. It has been a while since I have seen an AR for anywhere over a grand.

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

Like anything else, you can spend up to whatever you want. Ever seen a JP? A Barrett? A Daniel Defense?

Murphy9 on September 18, 2013 at 1:51 PM

Prices for AR’s have come way down. It has been a while since I have seen an AR for anywhere over a grand.

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

I don’t know about that “way down” – the Windham Weaponry AR I bought last December for $800 is currently priced for anywhere from $900 to $1200 lately in stores and easily $1500 at shows. I’ve seen the prices going up over the last year, definitely not any reduction – from what I’ve seen.

dentarthurdent on September 18, 2013 at 1:54 PM

RandallinHerndon on September 18, 2013 at 1:44 PM

The least expensive ones run close to $800, and then there are taxes. Just ballparkin’.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

I’m dissapointed in you guys.

You havent found a way to make him one of those scary MUSLIMS yet.

Ill keep checking. I know one of you souls will figure out a connection to justify your selves.

:)

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

I think you’ve been hanging out in liberal echo chambers for too long. It’s rotted your brain.

I’m curious, what is it we need to justify?

NotCoach on September 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

I’m curious, what is it we need to justify?
 
NotCoach on September 18, 2013 at 1:58 PM

 
His bigotry.

rogerb on September 18, 2013 at 2:03 PM

His bigotry.

rogerb on September 18, 2013 at 2:03 PM

That just seems like a strange comment, doesn’t it? I’m just curious as to what sort of twisted things are bouncing around in his head.

NotCoach on September 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Regarding the definition of “assault weapon”, it is a legal term, dreamed up by politicians.

I had a discussion with a Boston City council tool once. She had referred to an SKS rifle as an “assault weapon”, and I pointed out that even under the silly legal definition the so-called “Assautl Weapons Ban” it didn’t qualify. She snottily responded that it was indeed an “assault weapon” because the Boston ordinance declared it to be one.

I pointed out that they could also pass an ordinance that defined horses to be cows, but that wouldn’t mean horses were cows. I then asked her if they passed an ordinance that defined beer as urine whether she and her colleagues begin quaffing pi$$.

For some reason, she took offense.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Why not? It worked for “gay marriage”

cptacek on September 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Ban the name Alexis: http://www.kveo.com/news/dog-sniffs-out-abusive-babysitter

davidk on September 18, 2013 at 2:18 PM

I’m dissapointed in you guys.

You havent found a way to make him one of those scary MUSLIMS yet.

Ill keep checking. I know one of you souls will figure out a connection to justify your selves.

:)

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:07 PM

He’s black.

Does that fulfill your need to classify people?

davidk on September 18, 2013 at 2:20 PM

His bigotry.
 
rogerb on September 18, 2013 at 2:03 PM

 
That just seems like a strange comment, doesn’t it? I’m just curious as to what sort of twisted things are bouncing around in his head.
 
NotCoach on September 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

 
Obviously quite a few have to do with stereotyping Muslims conservatives.

rogerb on September 18, 2013 at 2:23 PM

Oops. If the shooter’s legal residence was DC…

18 USC Ch 44 Sec 922

(b) It shall be unlawful for any licensed importer, licensed manufacturer, licensed dealer, or licensed collector to sell or deliver…

(3) any firearm to any person who the licensee knows or has reasonable cause to believe does not reside in (or if the person is a corporation or other business entity, does not maintain a place of business in) the State in which the licensee’s place of business is located, except that this paragraph
(A) shall not apply to the sale or delivery of any rifle or shotgun to a resident of a State other than a State in which the licensee’s place of business is located if the transferee meets in person with the transferor to accomplish the transfer, and the sale, delivery, and receipt fully comply with the legal conditions of sale in both such States (and any licensed manufacturer, importer or dealer shall be presumed, for purposes of this subparagraph, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, to have had actual knowledge of the State laws and published ordinances of both States), and (B) shall not apply to the loan or rental of a firearm to any person for temporary use for lawful sporting purposes…

DC does ban possession of AR-15 type rifles.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 2:53 PM

Legal residence….it was always reported earlier that he was from TX.
What isn’t legal in TX?
What a State!

Another Drew on September 18, 2013 at 3:09 PM

It’s very unlikely that he had a DC license, or that he would give DC as a residence. It was only a recent temporary job for him. When I came back from Korea I got a license in California, which was only incidentally my home state. I would have gotten a license anywhere I was permanently stationed.

claudius on September 18, 2013 at 7:55 PM

Legal residence….it was always reported earlier that he was from TX.
What isn’t legal in TX?
What a State!

Another Drew on September 18, 2013 at 3:09 PM

This is not the Alexis from Texas for whom I was looking.

James on September 18, 2013 at 10:35 PM

Regarding the definition of “assault weapon”, it is a legal term, dreamed up by politicians.

I had a discussion with a Boston City council tool once. She had referred to an SKS rifle as an “assault weapon”, and I pointed out that even under the silly legal definition the so-called “Assautl Weapons Ban” it didn’t qualify. She snottily responded that it was indeed an “assault weapon” because the Boston ordinance declared it to be one.

I pointed out that they could also pass an ordinance that defined horses to be cows, but that wouldn’t mean horses were cows. I then asked her if they passed an ordinance that defined beer as urine whether she and her colleagues begin quaffing pi$$.

For some reason, she took offense.

novaculus on September 18, 2013 at 12:54 PM

Ridicule may be the only thing that has a shot at penetrating that mindset.

And even that would probably take years.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 18, 2013 at 11:01 PM

Ive seen one of you post that he was an Obama supporter therefore liberal therefore mass murderer.

Good job there.

Politricks on September 18, 2013 at 1:08 PM

Anyone that irony-challenged has to be a liberal.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 18, 2013 at 11:03 PM

Pic of the Day: Common Core Takes On The Second Amendment. Ignorance and Indoctrination Ensue!

Resist We Much on September 18, 2013 at 10:26 AM

The description of the First Amendment is just as bad. “Separation of church and state” is not in fact any part of the First Amendment.

There Goes the Neighborhood on September 18, 2013 at 11:32 PM

Here is an example of the historic reason for gun control…the scary-looking crazy mass-murdering (alleged) black guy.

And, off-topic, also the rationale for most of the drug laws in the U.S., a scary-looking crazy black guy.

Because of this person or that group, proud citizens until shown otherwise, we all should suffer reasonable curbs on our freedoms. That government teat most of us are nursing on is delivering poison. Isn’t it time to give excess “assistance” the boot, and give libertarians a try?

trl on September 19, 2013 at 6:41 AM

Forget the AR-15, what script Meds was this guy on?
Why isn’t the media talking about the meds all these mass shooters are or have been on?

Wallythedog on September 19, 2013 at 6:49 AM

Speaking of narratives, where are the fools claiming blacks don’t commit mass murders?

hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Lonetown on September 19, 2013 at 7:48 AM

OK! So maybe he didn’t have an AR-15.
But the libs tell us that he probably wanted one.
Headline News. o_0

shorebird on September 20, 2013 at 1:22 AM

Comment pages: 1 2