Obama measures wouldn't have kept guns from mass shooters

Obama Cries over Deaths from Gun Violence

The gun control measures a tearful President Barack Obama announced Tuesday would not have prevented the slaughters of 20 first-graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, or 14 county workers at a holiday party in San Bernardino, California.

Obama's executive action expands mandatory background checks to gun shows, flea markets and online sales, adds more than 230 examiners and staff to help process them and calls on states to submit accurate and updated criminal history data.

SEE EARLIER: An emotional Obama unveils his plan to cut gun violence

Those measures are seen as crucial to stemming gun suicides — the cause of two-thirds of gun deaths — by blocking immediate access to weapons. But, an Associated Press review shows, they would have had no impact in keeping weapons from the hands of suspects in several of the deadliest recent mass shootings that have spurred calls for tighter gun control.

The shooters at Sandy Hook and San Bernardino used weapons bought by others, shielding them from background checks. In other cases, the shooters legally bought guns.

In Aurora, Colorado, and at the Navy Yard in Washington, D.C., men undergoing mental health treatment were cleared to buy weapons because federal background checks looked to criminal histories and court-ordered commitments for signs of mental illness. The Obama administration is making changes in that realm by seeking to plug certain Social Security Administration data into the background check system and by helping states report more information about people barred from gun possession for mental health reasons.

The suspect in a shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, should have been flagged at the time, but errors and delays cleared the way for his purchase.

See President Obama addressing the nation after mass shootings throughout his tenure:

Obama addressing the nation on U.S. shootings & gun control during his presidency
See Gallery
Obama measures wouldn't have kept guns from mass shooters
US President Barack Obama gets emotional as he delivers a statement on executive actions to reduce gun violence on January 5, 2016 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON / AFP / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama delivers a statement on executive actions to reduce gun violence on January 5, 2016 at the White House in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/JIM WATSON / AFP / NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Though the moves probably wouldn't have prevented recent mass shootings, Obama rejected the idea that undermines the changes.

"We maybe can't save everybody, but we could save some," Obama said.

A look at how some recent mass shooting suspects got their weapons:

Dec. 2, 2015, San Bernardino, California, 14 killed

Syed Farook and his wife used weapons that the FBI says his neighbor, Enrique Marquez, purchased legally from a federally licensed dealer in 2011 and 2012. Marquez, now facing conspiracy and other charges, told investigators that Farook asked him to purchase the weapons because he would draw less attention. At the time, the FBI says, the men were plotting to shoot up a community college and a highway.


Oct. 1, 2015, Roseburg, Oregon, 10 killed

Christopher Harper-Mercer and his family members legally purchased the handguns and rifle he used in the Umpqua Community College shooting from a federally licensed gun dealer, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.


July 16, 2015, Chattanooga, Tennessee, 5 killed

The FBI says some of the weapons Muhammad Youssef Abdulazeez used in his attack on a pair of military facilities were purchased legally and some were not. It is unclear when the purchases were made and whether he was subject to a background check. Relatives say Abdulazeez had a history of mental illness, made a series of overseas trips and was arrested in April on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol. In May 2013, he failed a background check for an engineering job at a nuclear power plant in Ohio.


June 17, 2015, Charleston, South Carolina, 9 killed

A February drug arrest should have prevented Dylann Roof from purchasing the pistol authorities say he used at Emanuel AME Church, but a record-keeping error and background check delay allowed the transaction to go through. The FBI says a background check examiner never saw the arrest report because the wrong arresting agency was listed in state criminal history records. After three days passed, the gun dealer was legally permitted to complete the transaction.


Sept. 16, 2013, Washington, D.C., 12 killed

Aaron Alexis, a former reservist turned civilian contractor, passed state and federal background checks and legally purchased the pump-action shotgun used in the Washington Navy Yard shooting despite a history of violent outbursts and recent mental health treatment. Alexis was accused of firing a gun in anger in Texas in 2004 and Seattle in 2010, but was not prosecuted in either case. In 2011, he received an honorable discharge despite bouts of insubordination, disorderly conduct and unauthorized absences. None of that would have disqualified him from purchasing a weapon.


Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut, 26 killed

Adam Lanza used his mother's weapons, including a .223-caliber semi-automatic rifle, in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Investigators say Lanza's mother, whom he fatally shot before going to the school, also purchased the ammunition.


July 20, 2012, Aurora, Colorado, 12 killed

James Holmes was receiving psychiatric treatment when he passed required federal background checks and legally purchased the weapons he used in the movie theater assault. As in the Navy Yard case, Holmes' treatment alone would not have disqualified his purchases. They would have been blocked if had he been adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.

Look back at the deadliest mass shootings in U.S. history:
Deadliest Mass Shootings in U.S. History
See Gallery
Obama measures wouldn't have kept guns from mass shooters
A candlelight vigil is pictured on the Las Vegas strip following a mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Country Music Festival in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S., October 2, 2017. Picture taken October 2, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Wattie TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
LAS VEGAS, NV - OCTOBER 02: Aryanna Williams, 6, and Mickey Deustch, 8, of Las Vegas, Nevada attend a vigil on the Las Vegas strip for the victims of the Route 91 Harvest country music festival shootings on October 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Lone gunman Stephan Paddock, 64, of Mesquite, Nevada opened fire on festival attendees leaving at least 59 dead and over 500 injured before killing himself. The investigation is ongoing. (Photo by Denise Truscello/Getty Images)
People attend a candlelight vigil at the University of Las Vegas student union October 2, 2017, after a gunman killed at least 58 people and wounded more than 500 others when he opened fire on a country music concert in Las Vegas, Nevada late October 1, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Mourners hold up signs during a vigil in Washington, DC on June 12, 2016, in reaction to the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Fifty people died when a gunman allegedly inspired by the Islamic State group opened fire inside a gay nightclub in Florida, in the worst terror attack on US soil since September 11, 2001. / AFP / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds (Photo credit should read ANDREW CABALLERO-REYNOLDS/AFP/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - JUNE 12: FBI agents investigate near the damaged rear wall of the Pulse Nightclub where Omar Mateen allegedly killed at least 50 people on June 12, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. The mass shooting killed at least 50 people and injuring 53 others in what is the deadliest mass shooting in the countryÃs history. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 12: A guest holds a sign remembering the Orlando Massacre at the LA PRIDE Music Festival and Parade 2016 on June 10, 2016 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Joe Scarnici/WireImage)
BLACKSBURG, VA - APRIL 17: Thousands of people attend a candlelight vigil on the campus of Virginia Tech April 17, 2007 in Blacksburg, Virginia. According to police, English major Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a native of South Korea, went on a shooting rampage that left a total of 33 people dead. It was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
LITTLETON, CO - APRIL 20: (VIDEO CAPTURE) Columbine high school shooters Eric Harris (L) and Dylan Klebold appear in this video capture of a surveillance tape released by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department in the cafeteria at Columbine High School April 20, 1999 in Littleton, CO during their shooting spree which killed 13 people. (Photo courtesy of Jefferson County Sheriff's Department via Getty Images)

Fort Hood, Texas, 13 killed

KILLEEN, TX - NOVEMBER 5: Sgt. Fanuaee Vea embraces Pvt. Savannah Green while trying to reach friends and family outside Fort Hood on November 5, 2009 in Killeen, Texas. At least one gunman killed 12 people and injured 31 in a shooting on a military base at Fort Hood this afternoon. One shooter was killed by military police and at least two other soldiers are in custody. (Photo by Ben Sklar/Getty Images)


More on AOL.com:
Candidates get personal while discussing drug addiction
Police say couple smothered son, continued to play video games
Trump: I'll go down 5 points in the polls by saying this, but I think Obama's tears were real
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.