The debate over regulating firearms that has erupted following a series of horrific mass shootings has been mired in partisan arguments for and against measures such as universal background checks, bans on assault weapons, and limits on high capacity magazines (although the public at large favors all of these by significant majorities). But one frequently discussed solution has always seemed to attract bipartisan support: Mental health checks.
That is until it was actually proposed by Democratic members of Congress (Rep. Lois Capps and Senators Barbara Boxer and Diane Feinstein) in the “Pause for Safety Act.” This legislation has three primary functions, as described by Capps…
“Through establishing a new grant program, the bill would help ensure that family members can go to a court to seek a ‘gun violence prevention order’ to temporarily stop someone who poses a threat to themselves or others from purchasing or possessing a gun. The bill will also ensure that a court can issue a ‘gun violence prevention warrant,’ allowing law enforcement to step in if the court determines the individual poses a threat to themselves or others. Finally, the bill ensures that law enforcement can make full use of all existing state and local gun databases when investigating a warning or request from a family member.”
This bill is a creative attempt to empower family members, the people who are in the best position to know whether someone is a danger to themselves or others, to take action to prevent a tragedy. It also protects the rights of the subjects by affording them a fair court hearing to respond to the allegations raised. In the recent shootings in Isla Vista, the parents of the shooter were aware of his disturbing state of mind and reported it to the local sheriff. But neither of them had the authority to go farther than a brief conversation with the soon-to-be murderer. This bill addresses that legal flaw in a rational way.
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Unfortunately, the gun fetishists at the NRA, and their PR division Fox News, are already lining up to oppose the bill. Fox News posted an article on their lie-riddled Fox Nation website sourced to the ultra-rightist Breitbart News with the panicky headline “Dems Introduce Firearm Confiscation Legislation.” The obvious intent of their wording is to incite the NRA-Theists into a mouth-foaming tizzy at the notion that government stormtroopers will be coming for their guns. Needless to say, that is an outright lie that is easily debunked by the language in the bill.
The truth is that only persons who are identified as dangerous by family members (or other close associates), and who are affirmed to be so by a court, would be subject to any sanctions on purchases or ownership. Which is precisely what the gun nut crowd has been clamoring for. When any other form of regulation is proposed, they viscerally object and claim that the only thing that’s relevant is the emotional stability of the person seeking to obtain firearms. But now that a bill has been proposed that addresses exactly that, they are trying to slither out of supporting it. In effect, they are arguing on behalf of mentally unstable people to acquire, maintain, and ultimately use guns.
This is pretty good evidence that they have no intention of supporting any regulations on guns for any reason. They are so enamored of their weaponry that they will willingly accept tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths every year in order to maintain access to any weapon for anyone at any time.
Consequently, it is clear that they are utterly disingenuous when they speak of compromise or bipartisanship in the effort to find solutions. It is now justified and necessary to ignore them and go directly to the people and our representatives and insist on concrete action. The American people want something done, and compassion for the past (and future) victims demands it. We no longer need to be concerned about what the gun fetishists say because we know they don’t mean it and won’t help. So now the only question is, will our representatives in Congress help?