Extend gun laws to shotguns

It’s futile to hope that last week’s mass shooting at the Washington D.C. Navy Yard will move Congress to restrict access to firearms.

But one aspect of the Navy Yard massacre deserves state and federal lawmakers attention: the ability to purchase rifles and shotguns at licensed gun dealers without any background check or waiting period.

Earlier this month, an obviously troubled Rainier woman bought a shotgun on Tuesday and tried to shoot her male companion on Wednesday. Fortunately, she failed. The government had ordered her to kill the man, she told investigators.

Could a law extending the requirements for background checks to rifle and shotgun purchases have prevented the Navy Yard shootings, or the Rainier incident? Possibly.

Details now emerging about the Navy Yard shooter, who also used a shotgun, indicate he exhibited signs of mental health issues and a pattern of misconduct overlooked by those who might have intervened.

Congress and the state Legislature should consider extending existing safeguards to the purchase of long guns.