I'm not really impressed with our dysfunctional Congress slowly coming around to background checks for gun purchases. For one thing, it's nowhere near enough to change the tragic increase in gun violence. For another thing, this is going to likely be an attack on that catchall category of people we call the "mentally ill."
The shooter at Sandy Hook took one of his mother's guns. Now, call me cynical but a woman who has had some problems with the school but maintains what sounds like an armory maybe was a contributing factor in this tragedy. After all, she did take her mentally ill son out to target practice as a way of attempting to bond. Either way, she would not have been affected by a background check law.
The Aurora shooter had apparently stolen a gun from a friend or acquaintance.
The Tucson shooter was allowed to buy a gun because his name did not appear when a background check was performed, although he had been suspended from college due to "mental health problems."
And this is where the right to own a semi-automatic weapon smacks into the right to be mentally ill.
Most people who are mentally ill, even those who are suspended from colleges, are not going to go on a shooting rampage. Their right to private medical records is being trashed so that we can continue to buy and sell assault weapons.
In a country that does not want to pay for mental health care, we are now branding a very large and diffuse group who also have constitutional rights.
And the reason has nothing to do with the right to bear arms. It has to do with the right of arms manufacturers to increase their profits.
And let's make no mistake about the NRA's position here. The NRA has no particular need to be rational, much less compromise. If the idiots in Congress can be hooked into supporting having armed guards in schools, that's easy profit for the NRA's constituency, the arms manufacturers. To hell with the deficit, war is war. And if we don't get armed guards, it doesn't matter. Because every time Wayne LaPierre or Lindsey Graham open their mouths about the Second Amendment, that small percentage of paranoid individuals who own all the guns in the country just head on out and buy a few more weapons, and a lot more ammunition.
So it's a win-win for the NRA and for our gun industry.
But I would like to get back to the slippery slope of identifying who is mentally ill. If you are going to keep arms out of the hands of irrational and aggressive people, we need to look at some of the crazier statements made by some with power and celebrity.
We have Senator Graham bragging on how fast he can reload as an argument against limiting gun capacity.
And then there is Louis Gohmert who equates gun deaths with death by hammer.
Of course, there is Wayne "bad guy with a gun" LaPierre, whose vision for American is one of everybody locked and loaded.
Please don't forget Alex Jones, who turns apoplectic at the thought of someone taking his gun.
There's a very large leap when you decide to add the mentally ill to the NICS Index. It's a fact that the dangerous mentally ill walk among us. It's also a fact that they have the right to privacy. They have the right to not take meds or get into therapy. And, in fact, it is more likely that the dangerous mentally ill will be far harder to identify than those who are not dangerous. So background checks will either be useless or a witch hunt. Or both.
Now doesn't it make far more sense to take assault weapons off the streets?