Remember just eight short months ago Senator John Cornyn tried to get his bipartisan guns and mental health bill passed? Well, the worm is at it again.
The fight over gun control is threatening to scuttle a bipartisan mental health reform effort in the Senate as lawmakers rush to get the issue to the floor.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) is in talks with leaders of the Senate health committee to combine his mental health bill with one that passed the committee last month.
But Democrats object to certain sections of Cornyn’s bill that they say would make it easier for mentally ill people to acquire guns, and the controversial provisions could shatter Democratic support for the bill.
Provisions in Cornyn’s bill would require a full judicial hearing to ban someone from buying guns due to mental illness and would allow people previously committed for mental illness to purchase a gun as soon as a judge’s commitment order expires.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), one of the sponsors of the health committee’s bill, said such provisions would prevent him from supporting the bill.
“We’re still talking to [Cornyn] about whether we can move forward without those provisions,” Murphy said. “Obviously I can’t support a bill on the floor that has those provisions in it.”
Cornyn disagrees with Democrats’ argument, calling the position “unrealistic.” But he said he is open to discussing changes.
“I’m certainly open to discussing it, but I mean this whole idea that we’re not going to have a fulsome discussion about mental health and [the] problems it creates with the criminal justice system, housing and the healthcare field seems kind of unrealistic to me,” Cornyn said.
Still, he added: “I’m more interested in getting a solution and advancing the ball than I am trying to make a point.”
Murphy is one of the Senate’s strongest proponents of gun control, representing the state where the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting took place in 2012.
Asked if Cornyn has been open to dropping the problematic provisions, Murphy indicated the talks are still in an early stage.
“We haven’t gotten there yet,” he said.
Also involved in the talks are Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and health committee leaders Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Both sides are still hopeful that some agreement can be reached. Mental health reform is seen as one of the few issues on which a meaningful bipartisan bill could pass this year.
About one in five adults, or 44 million people, experience a mental illness per year, but the number of available psychiatric beds has declined 14 percent in recent years, and families are often prevented by privacy laws from accessing crucial information to help care for family members with mental illness.
But gun politics has long been an obstacle for mental health reform.
Republicans argue for mental health reform as a response to mass shootings, while Democrats contend that mental health reform, while important in its own right, is no substitute for new gun control laws.
“The two work in tandem, not one as a substitute for the other,” Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said at a hearing in February in which he denounced the gun-related sections of Cornyn’s bill. “If we did gun legislation, we’d need mental health legislation with real dollars. If we did mental health legislation with real dollars, we’d need gun legislation.”
One fear is that if Cornyn’s gun-related provisions made it into the final bill, it could spark a back and forth with Democrats putting forward their own gun-control amendments, disintegrating the bipartisan calm that would be crucial to passing the bill in an election year.
Murphy is trying to convince other Democrats not to introduce gun-related amendments of their own.
Even so, a Senate Democratic aide said that moving forward with a clean mental health bill is more likely now than it seemed a few weeks ago.
Murray said in a statement she is proud of the bipartisan bill that passed committee last month.
“I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to move our bill to the floor and continue building on that bipartisan foundation as soon as possible,” she said.
Will the GOP ever learn? We don’t want any of this. I don’t care what kind of protections Cornyn has in the bill, or what he claims are protections. The court system is corrupt, and appeal to mental health professionals is the twenty first century equivalent of appeal to the village witch doctor. I don’t want bipartisan cooperation. I don’t want kindness and collegiality. I don’t want both sides to come to agreement. And I really, really don’t care if the NRA supports this bill or not. I want war. Not one more gun law, not a single one, not even a hint of one. The only gun legislation that should be passed should be to undo the past obscenities such as the Hughes amendment.
And remember what reader Menckenlite said about psychiatry?
Control freaks love psychiatry, a means of social control with no Due Process protections. It is a system of personal opinion masquerading as science. See, e.g., Boston University Psychology Professor Margaret Hagan’s book, Whores of the Court, to see how arbitrary psychiatric illnesses are. Peter Breggin, Fred Baughman and Thomas Szasz wrote extensively about abuses of psychiatry. Liberals blame guns for violence. Conservatives blame mental illness. Neither have any causal connection to violence. The issue is criminal conduct, crime. Suggesting that persons with legal disabilities are criminals shows the nonsensical argument of this politician and his fellow control freaks. Shame on them.
Mental health, if it can be consistently defined by the village witchdoctor, has no causal bearing on or connection to the perpetration of evil. The perpetration of evil is done by those with mental maladies and those without alike. It has to do with federal headship in Adam, the first man, and whether that fallen nature has been redeemed. Leave the issues of morality and the soul to the doctors of the church, Johnny boy. Your doctors aren’t good enough and don’t really understand.