In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook massacre, the Virginia Tech murders, the attack on the Washington Navy Yard and the latest (now thankfully dead) Santa Barbara nut’s car/gun/knife rampage, the usual crowd of gun-grabbing hoplophobes began to clamor for “universal” background checks.
Translation: we want to mandate background checks for private sales, thereby eliminating private sales altogether, making guns even more expensive by adding bureaucratic red tape and FFL administrative costs into the price of the firearm, and making it such a pain to dispose of your property as you see fit, that you essentially decide to either do it illegally, or not do it at all.
Additionally, because of the nutbaggery of the aforementioned frootloops, the gun grabbers are now beating the “keeping guns from the dangerously mentally ill” drum.
Look, no one wants a violent sociopath to have access to firearms – certainly not legal access. That said…
What defines “mentally ill?”
Who would fall under that category?
Would making psychiatric records part of the NICS background check necessarily violate doctor-patient confidentiality?
How subjective is the diagnosis?
Would veterans diagnosed with PTS lose their right to keep and bear arms (quite the thanks for serving to protect that right, as well as the rest of the Constitution, isn’t it?)
For some answers, Ammoland turned to Montana Shooting Sports Association President Gary Marbut, who testified in front of Montana Legislature Law and Justice Interim Committee regarding National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and Mental Health in February.
You can read about Gary’s background and qualifications at the link above. You can also read his testimony that addresses some of these critical questions.
To me, the biggest issue is: do we deprive someone of their natural right to defend themselves with the most effective tool on the market today, merely because they sought mental health treatment?
I would say the answer is, “absolutely not.”
From Gary’s testimony, we can glean a few facts:
No, mentally ill does not necessarily equal violent.
No, despite the highly-publicized nutbags who recently went on shooting sprees, gun-related mass violence by persons with mental health issues is not on the rise.
And most of all, no – including people with prior mental health issues in the NICS database will not prevent them from obtaining guns. Data shows again and again that the majority of guns used in crimes come from illegal sources, and not through lawful purchases.
I believe what it will do is discourage some from seeking help they might desperately need for fear of losing their rights, prevent veterans from seeking counseling after coming back from warzones, and prevent many non-violent, non-criminal people from exercising their rights.
Not to mention the possibility that doctors may “express” their political views about guns by diagnosing patients as mentally unfit and working to keep as many people as possible from being able to legally obtain firearms.