Congress is slowly moving toward resolution of the gun control proposal. It’s fairly watered down, with the biggest thing being an expansion of the background checks. However, that in and of itself may be a problem. As pointed out in this extensive post from Doug Mataconis, there are big problems with just saying that those with mental illness should not get guns.
Ever since Newtown, there has been discussion about expanding the database used to conduct background checks to include people who have been deemed mentally unstable. The problem with this is that there are only two ways for someone to get on this type of list. Either they would have had to have had some kind of contact with the criminal justice system, or there condition would have to have been reported by a therapist that is treating them. The second alternative, of course, raises serious issues of doctor/patient confidentiality. Currently, therapists generally have a legal duty to make some kind of report if they know a patient is a danger to themselves or others, but the line of when that’s the case is hard to define, and the more common it becomes for therapists to report their patients to the state, the less likely that people are going to be to seek the treatment they need.
There are other concerns, which Doug gets into a second post, about what exactly constitutes “mentally unstable”. There is no agreement within the medical community of what exactly makes someone a danger to himself and others. It’s a judgement call. But, as we have seen many many times, the law is not comfortable with judgement calls. It prefers bright lines. And given the liability and danger, it is likely they will try to draw that line as far into our gun racks as possible.
Keep in mind this as well: next month the DSM-V will be released with new diagnoses. According to some, this could result in half of Americans being diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their lives. Hell, I could be flagged under this since I took prozac (briefly) in the 80’s. Should I be denied gun ownership for the rest of my life because of that?
Oh, I’m being hysterical, am I? Check this out. Following the passage of the SAFE Act in New York, a man named David Lewis was ordered to turn over his guns. The reason? Well, it’s not exactly clear. He claims that it was because he took some anti-anxiety medication at some point. The state is now claiming it was a clerical error and that they identified the wrong David Lewis. State lawmakers are now demanding answers for what happened.
Let the full weight of that sink in. A man’s guns were taken either because the police weren’t sure which David Lewis was dangerous or because they were scouring medical records looking for potential red flags. And, of course, this seizure was enabled by a state gun registry.
But surely, the federal law does not create these kind of concerns because … oh, crap:
The Toomey-Manchin Amendment which may be offered as soon as Tuesday to Senator Reid’s gun control bill are billed as a “compromise” which contain a variety of provisions for gun control, and other provisions to enhance gun rights. Some of the latter, however, are not what they seem. They are badly miswritten, and are in fact major advancements for gun control. In particular:
1. The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry.
2. The provision which is supposed to strengthen existing federal law protecting the interstate transportation of personal firearms in fact cripples that protection.
You should read the whole thing, which is awfully persuasive. We now have a bill that could create the David Lewis situation nationally. As I’ve said, I don’t oppose tightening up background checks. But I’m not going to support this. And, frankly, I dont think I can support any legislation crafted by that gun-grabbing weasel Chuck Schumer (I will also be placing a call to my Senator’s office).
We can now see why the Democrats were in such a rush to pass legislation after Newtown and why pro-Second Amendment Congressmen were right to stall and delay. Under the guise of fixing our gun laws, they are expanding them beyond anything reasonable. If they get their way, we will have a national gun registry, we will lose protection for transport of guns and any mental health incident in your lifetime could be used as an excuse to, if not seize your guns, at least deny future purchases.
Back to the drawing board, guys.