Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) is interviewed by Craig Melvin of MSNBC in front of the Washington NavyYard along M Street SE which remains closed after yesterday's deadly shooting, Tuesday September 17, 2013. Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) will ask for a moment of silence as the House adjourns today for the 12 federal employees killed. (Photo by Melina Mara/The Washington Post) D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) in front of the Washington Navy Yard along M Street SE, which remains closed after yesterday’s deadly shooting. (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

D.C. just had its very own mass shooting by a disturbed individual striking out at strangers, which, as Eugene Robinson writes, hits awfully close to home. For PostScript’s part, the continued reports of other shooters — she lives an easy walk from the Navy Yard — made her commutes pretty scary yesterday, and, in a weird coincidence, she just on Sunday drove eight guns across state lines to their new owner, Brother PostScript, who inherited them from Grandpa PostScript. Grandpa P was something of an extremely weird collector. Like, one of the guns requires a powder horn. And some are miniature but still fire. There’s no real relevance to this, except that the natural course of thought when something like this happens is to calculate how close one was, what connections one has and what one might have done. And whatever connections one has, even if it’s as tenuous as recent gun-touching and a two-metro-stop radius, feel eerie.

So, Robinson asks, what can we do about these shootings? He likens our unwillingness to take action to our unwillingness to strike Syria militarily, saying we need to be willing to make difficult choices. At the moment it seems unlikely gun control laws are going to get passed, and, as several commenters point out, it’s unclear if gun control laws could have stopped this shooter.


This fellow had a better background check than the one you go through for a weapon.
1. He was granted a secret clearance after a background investigation which did not pick up his multiple arrests and violent history.
2. He did not use or own a semi-automatic weapon.
3. He shot the security guards with a shotgun and took their hand guns.
4. When killed he had on him a shotgun, and two pistols.

Now will someone please tell me which gun law (in place or proposed) would have stopped this tragedy?


If they would just pass a bill that just mandated background checks, everyone would support it. It’s all the hiding, lying and political twaddle that we don’t like. The real problem is that private sale enforcement is impossible. No one is going to comply if you make both parties do a background check at a dealer, then confiscate the guns if both fail to pass. It might be a brilliant idea, but good luck.

Okay. The other go-to idea would be to take the shooter’s previous mental health and/or criminal record as a warning sign to justify preemptive, mandatory treatment:


The problem here is that we have no real psychiatric ability to do anything about these people. Look, if shooting out tires in a blackout rage and not remembering it is not a sure sign that you have deep, serious problems, then something is wrong in psychiatry. This kid should have been committed when he had his episode here in the Seattle area. Unfortunately, we have far too many psychiatrists who [are] afraid to sign off on these types of commitment in institutions. We have not made life safer for us.

HGF78 says the problem is a lack of security at military bases:

If I had lost a loved one in this mess, I would be very angry at our leaders – all of them. The Fort Hood shooting should have improved base security. That showed the bases were targets.

That’s the wrinkle with this shooting — that this was a secure facility with armed guards that already only allowed certain people who had proved their trustworthiness. Those are the big ways we create security in this country, and they didn’t keep us safe enough.