Faux-rage and lies; the latest gun control debate

Once again my Facebook feed is filled with faux-rage; this time from liberals, and this time about Congress’ recent actions to roll back an Obama executive order provision which prevents people deemed as “mentally impaired” from owning guns. The story has now become so twisted from the truth that most posts are now claiming breathlessly that “Republics want mentally ill people to own guns!!!”. First, that’s a lie. It’s about mental competence, not mental illness. Second, even if it was “mental illness” this kind of lumping of all people with a mental illness diagnosis into one bucket that removes a constitutional right from them is wrong headed and unfair. Depression, social anxiety, mild bipolar, substance abuse, and many other diagnosis which we would general consider irrelevant to gun ownership would then all be grounds to remove constitutional rights, only increasing the stigma of mental illness.

Beyond this, though, we have even more problems. First of which is that we are handing the power to remove constitutional rights from people based on a determination by a social worker, not a judge. If we consider the implications of this as applied to other parts of the bill of rights (take, for instance, the 4th amendment), then we should all, rightly, be worried.

Second, there is no evidence of a correlation between mental “competence” as defined by SSA and deaths or injuries from firearms. So it is a knee-jerk policy not based on science; something none of us should be a fan of.

At the end of the day our gun violence problem is very concerning and I believe there are certainly gun control policies we should put into place. It’s even reasonable in my opinion to say that the current view of 2nd amendment by the courts is not consistent with the intent of the authors of the 2nd, and that personal gun ownership is not a “right” equivalent to speech and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure. However, any control measure which singles out groups of individuals has potentially dangerous implications, and as the law stands today Congress was correct in repealing this executive order.

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