Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Gun crazy?

Ah, another of these sorts of editorials. I'll take it step by step.
Even the National Rifle Association admitted after the Virginia Tech massacre that federal guns laws had to be tightened to keep weapons out of the hands of people who were demonstrably mentally ill.
That's one of the many reasons I cannot trust the NRA. Especially since background checks already disqualify those adjudicated mentally defective, even if they are still considered capable of taking care of themselves.
Could anyone oppose background checks to determine whether a would-be gun buyer had ever been deemed dangerously disturbed?
"Ever been" is important here. As is the definition of "dangerously disturbed." If a person has been deemed mentally stable again, there's a lot to go through to get their rights back. And which mental illnesses make someone dangerously disturbed? Say I had a bout with depression a few years back. Would that mean I had once been dangerously disturbed? What about the biases of those making the determination? I'd like to own more guns, which would lead some people to believe I'm not qualified to own any.
There is one such fanatic in the U.S. Senate: Oklahoma Republican Tom Coburn has irresponsibly blocked a measure that sailed through the House after Seung-Hui Cho, a Virginia Tech student with a history of mental illness, bought firearms and used them to slaughter 32 people at the university.
Senator Tom Coburn knows that a knee-jerk reaction is not generally the best option, and he knows that rights are not to be revoked. Calling him an irresponsible fanatic is ludicrous. As for Cho's history of mental illness, unless I am mistaken, he was never adjudicated a danger to himself and others, nor was he ever confined to an institution. Most of his mental illness history comes to us in the form of anecdotes. I'm not 100% sure on this, of course, since I don't care all that much. Any free man or woman should never be barred the use of guns. If you can be allowed to live unsupervised, you can be allowed to own firearms.
The case revealed huge gaps in a federal database that is supposed to give gun dealers an instant read on whether purchasers are disqualified by virtue of criminal or mental histories.
In other words, the fact that this was one of few cases in which the guns were acquired legally has people up in arms.
Long Island Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was murdered by the deranged Long Island Rail Road gunman, pushed a loophole-closing measure through the House, only to have Coburn shoot a companion bill down in the Senate.
Ah, McCarthy. She's certainly a model of sanity, isn't she? And what loopholes was she closing? Oh, yeah, she pretty much wanted to keep anyone who's seen a shrink from handling a gun. Also, the fact that her husband was murdered actually clouds her judgment, I'd say, rather than lending any credibility.
Coburn made use of a Senate rule that lets any senator put an indefinite hold on any piece of legislation. He asserts that the bill would be costly to implement and could wind up depriving some people of their right to bear arms under the Second Amendment.
He's right. How many veterans have been diagnosed with PTSD? How many people have gotten treatment for a mental illness, thus keeping themselves from ever becoming a danger. I would further say that a bill like this might prevent people from seeking the treatment they need.
Coburn is guilty of extremism at its worst. By blocking the proposed law, he is all but certainly ensuring that some Americans will be deprived of their lives by maniacs with guns.
Who is guilty of extremism? Senator Coburn is blocking an expensive piece of legislation that will deny Americans one of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights. That's not extremism in the least.

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