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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Why Schumer's New Gun Ban Scheme is a Bad Idea

 has a great piece over at on the problems with Chuck and Amy Schumer's push to add more mental health records to the National Instant Check System (NICS).  Tuccille points out the main problem with the proposal is the arbitrary way that individuals are deemed to be a danger to themselves or others:
“On one extreme, I've seen at least one case where an applicant was unable to appeal his denial because local police entered an ominous but vague warning in his NICS entry that he was ‘dangerous,’ and thus he had no way of even knowing what motivated police to enter this record in the first place,” notes Jennifer Carlson, an assistant professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto and author of this year’s Citizen-Protectors: The Everyday Politics of Guns in an Age of Decline.  “And on the other extreme, I've come across cases where individuals with repeated domestic violence issues--including documented physical harm--are told they can have ‘one more chance’ despite--at least in my view--presenting some pretty clear-cut evidence as to their ‘danger to self and others.’"

“This level of arbitrariness is a problem,” she adds. “And I don't think anyone on either side of the gun debate really has come to terms with how uneven our records are--whether because of poor procedure, lack of resources, or arbitrary decision-making.”
Another problem with the proposal, one that has been discussed more than once when the issue of mental health comes up, is making sure people who need help are not discouraged from seeking help:
“There’s a lot of criticism about denying more people their Second Amendment rights based on mental illness,” notes Prof. James Jacobs, Director of the Center for Research in Crime and Justice at New York University School of Law and author of Can Gun Control Work?, published in 2002. “Mental health professionals think it will deter people from seeking help and will stigmatize the mentally ill.”

“Would we say that anybody who has ever seen a therapist is disqualified from owning a gun?” asks Jacobs, who wonders where you could draw the line.

Individuals might avoid seeking help if they’re worried that treatment will end up as an entry in a government database—but so might the family and friends of troubled people who think a loved one needs care, but fear a loss of civil liberties as a result.
Schumer's legislation is not likely to go anywhere. Unfortunately, Obama's regulatory agencies have found a way around Congress, which is why we now find ourselves fighting to protect the rights of veterans and senior citizens whose only problem is they need someone to assist them with their finances.

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