Tuesday, September 17, 2013

NO, THE NRA WOULD NOT HAVE WANTED TO PREVENT AARON ALEXIS FROM BUYING A GUN

In the course of asking how Washington Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis was able to obtain a shotgun legally, The Atlantic's Philip Bump writes:
Even the NRA agrees that people with mental health problems should not be able to get access to firearms.
No, that's exactly right.

The NRA accepts the provision in federal law that bars ownership or purchase of a firearm by someone who "has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution."

But that's not the same as believing that people with "mental health problems" should be denied firearms.

As a page on the NRA Institute for Legislative Action site notes,
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has issued regulations that define an "adjudication" as a "determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person is, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease: (1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or (2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs." This includes a finding of insanity or incompetency in a criminal case....

"Committed to a mental institution" is defined as a "formal commitment of a person to a mental institution by a court, board, or other lawful authority." ...

A person cannot be federally disqualified from owning a gun based simply on a psychiatrist's diagnosis, a doctor's referral, or the opinion of a law enforcement officer, let alone based on getting a drug prescription or seeking mental health treatment. Doing so would actually discourage troubled people from getting the help they need.
This sounds reasonable, except it means that a person like Aaron Alexis, who said last month "that a person he had argued with at an airport in Virginia 'has sent three people to follow him and keep him awake by talking to him and sending vibrations into his body' via a microwave machine, according to a Newport, R.I., police report," would not fall into the NRA's too-unstable-for-a-gun category because wasn't deemed mentally unfit "by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority" -- after all, the cops didn't have him involuntarily committed.

And it doesn't matter that Alexis reportedly has "been treated since August by the Veterans Administration for his mental problems," including paranoia, because, as the NRA piously informs us, "A person cannot be federally disqualified from owning a gun based simply on ... seeking mental health treatment. Doing so would actually discourage troubled people from getting the help they need."

You see, according to the NRA, we have to err on the side of permitting gun ownership in all but the narrowest possible circumstances, because ... freedom. So of course Aaron Alexis should have been allowed to buy a gun.

9 comments:

Victor said...

NRA POV:
For people like Mr. Alexis, along with our manufacturers fine lines of weapons, bullets, accessories, and clothing, we also offer a wonderful line of metal military helmets, and stylish hats in both tin and aluminum foil.

Geese Howard said...

This post is kind of off. Because the NRA isn't really arguing "because freedom" here. You'[re just tossing that out there because it feels good and is an easy shot, even though it's bullshit.

What they are arguing is that if you strip someones right to a gun because they seek help for a mental health issue, they won't seek help for mental health. This is true. I was in the military and I can tell you for a fact that only utter idiots bother to seek mental help for anything. The reason is simple, the impact it has on all sorts of things related to your future (of which guns are just one and not even the most important) pretty much means you're ruined for life. So unless you want to completely destroy your future, you don't seek help for anything, ever. Even having that on your record is life ruining. If shit's that bad your better of looking into some sort of life insurance policy and finding a way to end it all so at least your loved ones can get something out of it.

Now you may say it shouldn't be that way, but that is the way it is.

Also you are dancing all over that being accused of something, but not convicted of it is grounds to strip rights and freedoms. I'm quasi OK with that, as long as it's universal. For example people accused of trying to screw with Wall Street, let's strip their rights for the rest of their life. Also everyone bitching about the NSA, or Obama's chained CPI (aside from being racist because nobody cared till a black president tried it) should be stripped of various rights.

So we either apply this in situations where others want it, or we can accept that people don't seek mental help if it will impact their lives in a negative way, and that people should keep their rights until actually convicted of something.

EVille Mike said...

Perfect. The NRA's argument actually refutes its own position. And it's the best example of Darkside Salesmanship I've seen in a very long time. Doesn't get better than that.

Outstanding post.

Steve M. said...

The reason is simple, the impact it has on all sorts of things related to your future (of which guns are just one and not even the most important) pretty much means you're ruined for life. So unless you want to completely destroy your future, you don't seek help for anything, ever. Even having that on your record is life ruining.

So what you're saying is that seeking help ruins your life regardless of the gun laws. That's a big problem, and a decent society would do something about it, but -- by your own admission -- it's only incidentally a gun-law problem. So why should it be a reason to make guns as available as possible to people with mental health problems?

Also you are dancing all over that being accused of something, but not convicted of it is grounds to strip rights and freedoms. I'm quasi OK with that, as long as it's universal.

OK, how about we assign points, the way the motor vehicles department assigns points for moving violations, even if we're not going to throw people like Alexis in jail or in a mental hospital involuntarily. Shoot out someone's tires? You get points. "Inadvertently" discharge a gun into someone else's apartment? More points. Call the cops and say you're hearing voices? More points. Enough points and you can't buy a guy.

It'll never happen, and if you tried to enforce it across state lines the gunners would scream "Fascist!," but if you get notified when you get points and there's an appeals process, I don't see the problem.

Kathy said...

Geese Howard, I'm not sure what world you live in, but mine was not ruined by seeking mental health treatment. Neither was my spouse's. I wish I believed that NRA membership was making the argument re mental health in good faith, but I don't. It's just a nice diversion, similar to the "violent video games" bandwagon. They don't want *any* limits on gun ownership, period.

Victor said...

I'm going to ignore that "Geese Howard" troll.

Except to say that I suspect that he's just mad because as a Howard, he was the only one who wasn't talented enough to be one of the 'Three Stooges" - and so, instead, became a stooge for the NRA and gun manufacturers.

So, Geese Howard, you were talking pointing...

Grung_e_Gene said...

The Cult of the Gun fueled by the Blood Money of the Gun Manufacturers has won. It won't be until a future generation dismisses the Wayne LaPierre's of the world that we will see an end to Mass Shootings.

For now and the foreseeable future Mass Shooting events are going to happen and with more frequency.

NAL said...

No, that's exactly right. SB:

No, that's not exactly right.

Examinator said...

Peoples,I hope that includes Victor ;-).

I still maintain that firearms aren't the real issue. In reality it is what they represent to those who want them. Put another way it is a symptom of a much more emotionally visceral
concern.... i.e. their fear of impotency in a world that is changing beyond their own perceived place in it... identity.
As Steve, I believe accurately alluded about still smarting over the Civil War. What they're doing is more about them not feeling a part of the USA as it is today. It's about them trying to claim the "aggrieved status" and therefore the moral(high ground) right status. ergo their clinging to :
a. 'Rights' with a capital 'R'. regardless of conflict of logic or common sense.
b. The good ole ways.
c. The 'rebel(ious)' read 'bloody minded' attitudes

One also needs to be aware of three other human factors (Traits).
- When one feels aggrieved one is disproportionately (more easily)influenced (manipulated) by those who agree, even if for their own benefit.( those who have the power....corporations, rich, those who gain by it...politicians, lobbyists et al) Note too ads, PR,Political conversations (campaigns) with the public are never about logic they are about emotions. i.e the chant America No 1 ( what does that really mean?) Did the America run the 100mtrs in 9.00 seconds flat? no AN American did! etc.

The real obstacle to a solution about Firearm control is self interest and that is complex. The western citizen has been inculcated with the INSTANT mentality because it's emotionally based and relatively easy to do. eg.Sadly a *majority* of voters voted GW Bush in the second term NOT just lunatic righties.
Americans expect Instant solutions Vote Obama and HE'll fix it if he doesn't well that's 'HIS failing' ...next! Reality is some what different.
Western Voters tend to have 3 news cycles concentration spans.Occupy, Sandy Hook Creek rage failed simply because the population as a whole couldn't maintain the attention "rage"! And 'the power that be' know and count on it.