Guns In The Hands Of Mentally Ill

Sometimes the most interesting points come out of side discussions around a larger point.  Such was the case in an online discussion about gun runs.

Left wing Anti Gun "activist" Gary Patton wrote an opt ed piece that he circulated to any media willing to print it, you can read it in full HERE.  The letter is about the shooting spree carried out by John Zawahri in Santa Monica, CA.

Here's the key part of what he wrote:

Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks commented (New York Daily News, 6/14/13), "We know his was a troubled life and that he experienced mental health challenges. We believe that his mental health challenges likely played a role in his decisions to shoot and kill both his father and his brother, to set fire to the family home, and to go on a 13-minute shooting spree spanning roughly 1.5 miles and which left five innocent people dead and three people injured."

The mass murderers at Phoenix, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; Virginia Tech; Newtown, Connecticut; and now Santa Monica, California, all had mental problems. What is being done to keep guns out of the hands of unstable and potentially violent people like them? Very little.

According to the Concord Monitor (6/9/13), "Federal law prohibits anyone 'adjudicated mentally defective' from buying a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer, which includes gun shops. Federal laws define that term as anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a hospital, found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity, or whose mental illness makes them a danger to themselves or others."

"But the federal government does not require states to make relevant records available to its National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). And many don't." And that includes New Hampshire.

Now one major fact in this story is left out from Gary's letter and defeats his entire argument as pointed out by the Huffington Post:

"Zawahri apparently built his own .223-caliber assault rifle, using it to shoot his father and brother before he set fire to their family home, officials said earlier Thursday."

So not only was the weapon he used already illegal, they weren't even purchased... they were made!

I'm sorry but no amount of laws on the books can prevent that from happening.

And while on the subject of existing laws, since writers like Gary love to point to past shootings as well to tug on emotions let's also look at the CT shooting.

CT requires you to be 21 to posses a gun, the shooter was 20

CT requires a permit to carry a pistol, the shooter didn't have one

CT made it unlawful to possess a firearm on public and private elementary or secondary educational school property

And depending on which version of the reports you believe regarding the Bushmaster, CT has a ban on assault rifles already making it an illegal weapon

So that's 4 laws already broken in the CT case.  Add in the fact that the school had a locked down entry way that was intended to prevent unwanted people from entering the school.

What it didn't have were people in the building with the means to defend themselves.

But I digress, I'm burying my lead.  This isn't about existing guns law or the absurdity of the anti gun arguments when facts are taken into account, this is about the point raised in the section of Gary's letter I posted.  Mentally ill purchasing guns.

The problem is we want the best of two worlds.  We want people to feel secure in their privacy and feel safe that their medical records are private and cannot be used against them in any way but then we want Billy Bob at the gun store to be able to punch in your name when you attempt to purchase a gun and see right away if you have any sort of mental illness in your background.

You can't have it both ways.  HIPPA laws prevent people from accessing your medical history.  Once you open the box you can't put it back.  Gun stores having the ability to see if you had any mental history also opens the doors for employers to see.

I recall when I worked in an IT department dealing with medical data one situation we discussed, a politician had a possible embarrassing medical history.  It could have been anything, STDs or mental illness.  If somehow that information made it to the press that politician's carrier would have been over.

Likewise, if a potential employer finds out that an applicant had a history of being bipolar or depression or whatever do you think they'll hire them over someone with a clean history?

As Benjamin Franklin said, 

“Those who surrender freedom for security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one.”

As much as we want to keep ourselves safe, where do we draw the line as far as how much individual freedom must be given up to achieve the safety we desire?