There is movement on the issue of mental health and gun ownership, but we’ll get to that in a moment. First in order to set the stage, Michael Hammond writing at The Washington Times has done a good job of explaining the stakes.
The 1968 Gun Control Act bans guns for anyone who is “adjudicated as a mental defective or … committed to a mental institution.” Unfortunately, under 2008 NICS Improvement Act, drafted by Sen. Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, and its regulations, that “adjudication” can be made by any “other lawful authority.” This means a diagnosis by a single psychiatrist in connection with a government program.
In the case of nearly 175,000 law-abiding veterans, the “lawful authority” has been a Department of Veterans Affairs psychiatrist, who, generally, will take away a veteran’s guns by unilaterally declaring him incompetent and appointing a guardian over his financial affairs. Certainly, the findings can be appealed, but most veterans don’t have the tens of thousands of dollars to hire lawyers and psychiatrists to do so.
Although the problem hasn’t yet been as apparent in other areas, police and firemen on Social Security disability for post-traumatic stress disorder, Medicare seniors with Alzheimer’s, and people who as children were diagnosed under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act program with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder will ultimately face the same fate. Even a subsidized Obamacare policy might now make Americans participants in a federal program.
In fact, that process of expanding gun bans has now begun:
One gun owner in a virulently anti-gun state was placed on the gun-ban blacklist because many years ago, police, without the approval of any court, put him in a mental facility overnight. The facility found nothing wrong with him, but that didn’t stop his state from recently turning him in to the FBI for a lifetime gun ban.
In another case, a gun owner in an anti-gun state lost his guns because of a prescription for a psychiatric drug.
Bob Unruh explains how this happens with veterans.
The problem arises when the agency wants to appoint a fiduciary – someone to advise a disabled veteran or one receiving certain government benefits – to help with the management of the benefits.
The government then routinely notifies the FBI’s NICS system, a federally maintained list of those whose competency has been challenged. That means they no longer can purchase a gun or even keep the one they may have.
Michael Connelly, executive director of the USJF, told WND the initial lawsuit is to compel the VA to respond to two requests under the Freedom of Information Act.
“The information requested included Veterans Benefits Administration rules, regulations and criteria for making ‘determinations of incompetency due to a physical or mental condition of a benefit recipient,’” the legal team explained.
“The USJF has received numerous complaints from military veterans around the country who are being declared incompetent to handle their own financial affairs and then told that they can no longer purchase or own firearms or ammunition,” said Connelly. “This determination is being made without due process protections for the veterans and the basis for the incompetency ruling is often arbitrary and without a factual or legal basis.”
Just a month ago, WND columnist Jeff Knox warning about Obama’s newly announced strategy.
And just a few days ago Mike Vanderboegh provided strong evidence that this is happening on a wide scale. Returning to Bob’s article, he asks the important questions. “As with most things, the devil is in the details. What is mental illness? Who is mentally ill? How mentally ill must one be to warrant revocation of a fundamental human right? Who makes that determination? Who is ‘normal,’ and how ‘normal’ do they have to be to own guns?”
Now to what David Codrea reported just today about the movement afoot to make the problem even more sweeping in scope.
In a chat session this month with the liberal magazine Texas Monthly, Cornyn revealed he and Lindsay Graham will introduce a bill strengthening the NICS federal gun owner registration database and place more Americans on lifetime gun ban lists.
There are no doubt good people who believe that such a thing is good for public safety. Cornyn and Graham aren’t among that crowd. They know better and would sell the souls of their own mothers if it would be beneficial to their careers. It isn’t to them that I speak. Nothing can change them, and so the only remedy for us is to change their jobs.
We’ve dealt with this before, this notion that the mental health profession is like any other, that it can pull the right levers, punch the right buttons, and administer the right drugs to fix mankind. But listen to them in their own words.
Dr. J. Michael Bostwick, Mayo Clinic: “We physicians generally do not know enough about firearms to have an informed conversation with our patients, let alone counsel them about gun safety.” He continues by arguing:
- Even if every mentally ill person in the country were registered, the system isn’t prepared to handle them — and only about half of the states require registration.
- Only about 10 percent of mentally ill people are registered — and these are people who have been committed, they’ve come to attention in a way that requires court intervention.
- Literature says the vast majority of people who do these kinds of shootings are not mentally ill — or it is recognized after the fact.
- The majority of mentally ill people aren’t dangerous.
Dr. Richard Friedman: ” … there is overwhelming epidemiological evidence that the vast majority of people with psychiatric disorders do not commit violent acts. Only about 4 percent of violence in the United States can be attributed to people with mental illness.”
Dr. Barry Rosenfeld: “”We’re not likely to catch very many potentially violent people” with laws like the one in New York.”
Dr. Steven Hoge: “One reason even experienced psychiatrists are often wrong is that there are only a few clear signs that a person with a mental illness is likely to act violently.”
And National Journal notes the following.
Perhaps most important, although people with serious mental illness have committed a large percentage of high-profile crimes, the mentally ill represent a very small percentage of the perpetrators of violent crime overall. Researchers estimate that if mental illness could be eliminated as a factor in violent crime, the overall rate would be reduced by only 4 percent. That means 96 percent of violent crimes—defined by the FBI as murders, robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults—are committed by people without any mental-health problems at all. Solutions that focus on reducing crimes by the mentally ill will make only a small dent in the nation’s rate of gun-related murders, ranging from mass killings to shootings that claim a single victim. It’s not just that the mentally ill represent a minority of the country’s population; it’s also that the overlap between mental illness and violent behavior is poor.
I won’t continue since we’ve covered this in detail before. To my readers who believe that this has anything to do with public safety, you need to be dissuaded from such foolishness. This has nothing to do with the decreased rate of forcible admissions to mental health facilities, and nothing to do with an increase in mental health problems, and nothing to do with the availability of guns. And it has nothing to do with turning out patients from the asylums, no matter what you’ve been told.
Crime is a moral choice. I know this is uncomfortable for some of my readers, because it forces you to think about things like value judgments and the roots of morality. It all has such a deontological ring to it, and it suggests that mankind may not just be the product of primordial slime – that there is someone to whom we must answer.
But I don’t care one iota about your discomfort. The mental health profession simply cannot sustain the weight of burden you wish to place on it. It cannot tell you who will do what, or give enough medications to fix what ails mankind. It cannot control individuals who are moral agents making their own choices.
And those who would rule us know this too. They know that the mental health profession cannot function in this role, and yet the sweep of the proposed rules keeps increasing, the dragnet keeps expanding, and the Senators keep going along to get along. So what does this tell you about why they want to expand the mental health dragnet? When will you be adjudicated mentally defective because you believe that being armed is the surest way to ameliorate tyranny in America?