Saturday, April 21, 2007


At first glance, this seems like a pleasant surprise:

House Democratic leaders are working with the National Rifle Association to bolster existing laws blocking mentally ill people from buying guns.

...The measure, a version of which has passed the House in two previous Congresses but died in the Senate, could come to a House vote as early as next month. It would require states to supply more thorough records, including for any mental illness-related court action against a would-be gun purchaser.

Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., a strong NRA ally, is negotiating with the group on the background check bill.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has tapped Dingell and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., a leading gun control supporter whose husband was fatally shot by a deranged gunman on the Long Island Railroad, to broker a swift compromise measure that could win passage in the House and Senate....

And yes, in fact, the NRA does support the NICS Improvement Act of 2007. (NICS is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.)

However, the NRA isn't the only 800-pound pro-gun gorilla in the room. Here's a report from CNSNews from the last time the bill was up for consideration:

...Gun Owners of America also admits that it is the only national pro-gun group to oppose the "NICS Improvement Act of 2005" (H.R. 1415).

...Gun Owners of America warns that the bill would give the states hundreds of millions of dollars to "further prop up the unconstitutional Brady Law." GOA argues that the federal government lacks the authority to conduct background checks on gun buyers under the Second and Tenth Amendments.

...According to Gun Owners of America, the bill is "anything but harmless" because it will make available to the federal government millions of state records "that could include state tax returns, employment records, library records, DMV, hospital, mental health and some misdemeanor records -- all in the name of making sure you're not prohibited from owning a gun." ...

Mental health records! Imagine!

(By the way, I can't find any sign in the bill that it could be used to deny you a gun if you have an overdue library book, or whatever GOA is charging here, and I seriously doubt the NRA would back the bill if that were the case.)

In January 2007, GOA said that the bill "could prove to be the most serious threat to the Second Amendment we face under the new congressional leadership," adding,

The fact that metal health 'experts,' a notoriously anti-gun community, would have a say in who is allowed to possess a firearm is, quite frankly, frightening.

Yup, that's what these guys think.

And there's nothing on their site to suggest that they've changed their minds. So who'll prevail in Congress, the NRA or the GOA? My money's not on the NRA.

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