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Thread: U.S. Gun Control Laws & The Second Amendment

  1. #1

    Default U.S. Gun Control Laws & The Second Amendment

    The New York Times
    June 14, 2007

    House Votes to Bolster Database on Gun Buyers


    Doug Mills/The New York Times
    Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a co-sponsor of the gun bill.

    By JACQUELINE PALANK and IAN URBINA

    WASHINGTON, June 13 — The House voted Wednesday to close a loophole in gun control laws that allowed the Virginia Tech gunman to buy firearms even though he had been committed to a mental hospital. The Senate is likely to follow suit, marking the first time since 1996 that Congress has approved a measure strengthening gun control.

    The bill’s approval, on a voice vote, came on the same day as the release of a report President Bush ordered after the shootings in April at Virginia Tech, in which a student killed 32 people and himself. The cabinet agencies that wrote the report found that schools, doctors and the police were not fully aware of what information could legally be shared in a web of confusing and overlapping privacy laws.

    The House bill, a compromise between gun rights supporters and gun control advocates on both sides of the aisle, would provide grant money for states to update the national database that gun dealers use for background checks on prospective buyers. The update would add more criminal records and mental health information to the database.

    One of the sponsors of the bill was Representative Carolyn McCarthy, a New York Democrat who has led other efforts to tighten gun control laws and whose husband was killed by a gunman on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993. Ms. McCarthy called the bill a “good policy that will save lives.”

    Two co-sponsors were her ideological opposites: Representative Lamar Smith, a Texas Republican who supports gun rights, and Representative John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat who served on the board of the National Rifle Association. Both the N.R.A. and the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence supported the measure.

    “This act will ensure that the background check system really is instant and accurate,” Mr. Smith said.

    Another gun rights group, Gun Owners of America, opposed the measure. Erich Pratt, the organization’s communications director, said it forces “honest, law-abiding people to have to prove their innocence to a bureaucrat before they exercise their constitutional rights.”

    Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York, said that he hoped to introduce the bill in the Senate without amendments “very soon” and that passage was likely.

    “When the N.R.A. and I agree on legislation, you know that it’s going to get through, become law and do some good,” Mr. Schumer said.

    Passing an unchanged bill in the Senate is paramount, said Wayne LaPierre, the executive vice president of the N.R.A..

    “If this were to turn into a gun-control wish list on the Senate side, we would withdraw our support and go back looking for another way to pass the bill,” Mr. LaPierre said.

    President Bush is “broadly supportive” of the measure and is inclined to sign it, said Tony Fratto, the deputy White House press secretary,
    although Mr. Fratto said the White House still had questions about how the program would be financed. “We’re supportive of the substance of the bill, the policy,” he said.

    The bill provides a right of appeal to those who believe they are unfairly included in the database, which is maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. That provision was a particular concern of the rifle association.

    Since the Brady gun control act was passed in 1993, states have been required to submit information to a national database on people who are not allowed to buy firearms under federal law. Those prohibited from gun ownership include convicted criminals, those involuntarily committed to mental health facilities, and those whom courts have deemed “a mental defective,” meaning they are a danger to themselves or to others.

    The last gun-control measure passed by Congress, in 1996, prohibited those convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense from buying or owning firearms.

    The report to the president found that complicated laws protecting privacy have confused education, health care and law enforcement officials about the types of information they can legally share concerning dangerous and mentally ill people, limiting the ability of these officials to prevent the kind of violence that occurred at Virginia Tech.

    The report, prepared by the Departments of Health and Human Services, Justice and Education, also found that many states and communities had not done enough to enact emergency preparedness and violence prevention plans in schools.

    Additional federal guidelines should be written to clarify how information can be shared legally under federal privacy laws, the report said, and the Department of Homeland Security should offer grant programs for joint training exercises for state, local and campus law enforcement.

    The federal report comes two days after the state office charged with scrutinizing Virginia’s mental health agencies highlighted other problems in tracking and treating potentially dangerous mental health patients. That report described mental health services in Virginia as being underfinanced and ill-equipped to evaluate whether people are a danger to themselves or others.

    Both reports were partly a response to questions raised about the handling by state, local and university staff members of the Virginia Tech gunman, Seung-Hui Cho, and his mental health problems, which were demonstrated long before the shootings.

    After Mr. Cho made suicidal comments in December 2005, a judge ordered him to have outpatient treatment on campus. But it appears that his condition was not tracked and that he did not receive the treatment when he returned to campus.

    The state’s mental health report concluded that it often takes more than a month for someone to receive court-ordered or voluntary counseling for a mental illness, a lag based in part on a lack of financing.

    More than half of community mental health providers say they have less capacity today than they did a decade ago, according to the report, which recommended that Virginia officials consider giving health care professionals more time and resources for initial screenings of the mentally ill. The report also suggested that local mental health agencies better monitor and follow up with people receiving counseling in the community.

    Sheryl Gay Stolberg contributed reporting.

    Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/14/wa...8Q&oref=slogin

  2. #2

    Exclamation A Letter to Carolyn McCarthy

    To My Congresswoman, Carolyn McCarthy:

    I am seeking your advice.

    In the past, I have been able to get my mentally-challenged and substance-abusing relatives to therapy because they knew that what they said in therapy would be held in confidence.

    My relatives say that if there's any chance that information about them would be put on a computer data base, they would stop going to therapy. Knowing how much they value their privacy, I am certain that they will carry out this threat.

    Ms. McCarthy, they really need therapy. They need to stay on their meds and continue with their counseling sessions and support groups. How can I get them to therapy once your law is passed?

    Signed,
    A Hairy'd Constituent

  3. #3
    Chief Antagonist Ninjahedge's Avatar
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    Um, that's great.

    I understand where that is coming from, but how many would not do this because of this law?

    Also, would this only be subject to a comittal by a medical professional or leagal order or would any visit to a psych ward be deemed admissable to a background check?

    They need to clarify the line. Also, whether he person was comitted or not, I think that proof of sanity would probably be a better affidavit for gun ownership than proof of instability being an inhibitor.

  4. #4

    Default Not mutually exclusive scenarios

    Scenario A:
    Over time the minimum for being denied access to handguns will change from being comitted to a mental health facility, to having been ordered by a court to take antipsycotic drugs, to having ever been prescribed antidepressants, to an anonymous tip to a security agency that one was acting suspicious.

    Scenario B:
    Protesters asking for a new inquiry into 9/11 with testimony under oath etc. are arrested after agent provocateurs who have infiltrated the protest cause violence with the overvigilant police. Upon being processed and questioned, disbelievers of the official gov't story are deemed mentally unstable and a threat to themselves and others and committed to a mental health facility. These people will then be on watchlists and databases all accross the country taking away bill of rights protections and chilling those of other dissenting citizens.

    Scenario C:
    NSA internet data-mining will find my post here and deem my concern for the threat against bill of rights protections and the potential for proto-fascists and police state homeland security authoritarians to misuse regulations and databases - and deem me 'paranoid' and commit me to a mental health facility, thereby taking away my right to own a handgun and chilling any others from making statements against the rising totalitarian bureaucracy and freedom stealing security justifiers.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Capn_Birdseye's Avatar
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    Just an question from a perplexed "outsider" - why is the gun lobby, and indeed the whole gun culture so strong in the US?
    Surely its a no-brainer?

  6. #6

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    ^
    The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution.

    A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    The central debate over ratification of the Constitution in 1789 was the concept of a strong federal government vs the individual rights codified in the Articles of Confederation (1781), the first governing document of the US. This debate led to the inclusion of the Bill of Rights (first 10 amendments) into the Constitution. The 9th Amendment addresses rights not specified in the Constitution:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.


    Over the centuries, the meaning of militia, keep and bear arms, and the punctuation used in the text have further complicated the debate.

    http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/c...n/amendment02/

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_...s_Constitution

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ninjahedge View Post
    I understand where that is coming from, but how many would not do this because of this law?
    You're very lucky, Ninja. By asking that question, you're implicitly saying that nobody very close to you has ever been seriously mentally ill and/or a dysfunctional substance abuser.

    The answer: anybody who would stay "bottomed out" -- or chance a relapse -- rather than have their problems recorded on a database.

    Another problem: people who continue to go to support groups are much less likely to open up. Who at an AA meeting is going to confess that s/he almost punched someone at a bar once?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonik View Post
    Scenario A:

    Scenario B:

    Scenario C:
    These scenarios, onerous as they are, arise from a need to temper the consequences of the belief that carrying a handgun is an intrinsic freedom.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    These scenarios, onerous as they are, arise from a need1 to temper the consequences of the belief2 that carrying a handgun is an intrinsic freedom3.
    1. The need of a tyranical gov't to have a docile and unarmed populace?

    2. Rights are not given by the Constitution, but recognized as intrinsic and guaranteed protection from gov't intrusion.

    3. The 9th Amendment suffices if you twist the 2nd somehow.


    If we learn anything from the Framers of the Constitution, it is that government shall never be trusted with the means to oppress citizens. The possibility of these onerous scenarios arises from our abdication of the responsibility to withold from government the tools of tyranny. The people should never give to the government any authority that they cannot rescind.

    We are fast entering an era where in popular thought only the police and criminals have guns. Where the act of posessing a gun is criminal on its face. God forbid a fascist police state where the only guns around show up at your door in uniform making demands.

    Soon enough merely owning a gun will be a de facto revolutionary act.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Capn_Birdseye's Avatar
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    To an "outsider" it just seems an archiac law that belongs to a past era, not one that is relevant to 2007, but then I speak as someone who is merely an observer. I read that it is estimated there are over 200 million guns in the US, around 65 million being hand-guns! Thats an awful lot of weaponry! For what purpose are these weapons held? Is there that much hunting in the US to warrant such numbers of guns?

    Yes there is the occasional gun-crime in the UK but our cops here remain largely unarmed - long may that continue!

  11. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Capn_Birdseye View Post
    Is there that much hunting in the US to warrant such numbers of guns?
    Hard to hunt with a handgun.

    Folks don't trust the police to protect them in their homes, cars or on the street ...and other folks don't trust the government, period --though it's a bit naive to think an armed citizenry can hold off a determined government police state. See Jasonik's posts for a raw statement of this belief.

    It's true there would be much fewer killings if no one had a gun. Makes it so easy to off someone you get mad at.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    though it's a bit naive to think an armed citizenry can hold off a determined government police state. See Jasonik's posts for a raw statement of this belief.
    Well. if you're going resist government troops, at least a few people in the nabe should be armed with SAWS.

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ablarc View Post
    it's a bit naive to think an armed citizenry can hold off a determined government police state.
    Even more so considering all the firsthand training our military is getting fighting just such a force in Iraq.

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by ZippyTheChimp View Post
    Well. if you're going resist government troops, at least a few people in the nabe should be armed with SAWS.
    Will they take out SWORDS?

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jasonik View Post
    Even more so considering all the firsthand training our military is getting fighting just such a force in Iraq.
    Back home, we don't have fiery Allah and a heaven full of virgins to motivate us.

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