Most people who read this blog have happened upon some article or another where I’ve stated that gun control law is not a huge do-it issue for me. I just happen to be of a mind that illegalizing something only sets it outside the law and therefore reduces our ability to control it. Think about all that pot you smoked in High School. But the new legislation passed by the Congress as a response to the Cho Virginia Tech shooting is something I can get behind.
There have been laws on the books for forty years saying you can’t own a handgun if you have a mental illness, but privacy law has prevented that law from being enforced for as long as it’s been in effect. I’m about as interested in privacy as I am disinterested in gun-control law, but even I acknowledge that something is amiss, here. But this is a tough nut to crack. The new bill seeks to close those gaps by specifically spelling out what records must be provided in order to purchase a gun.
The new legislation aims to close those gaps: * it provides funds to improve NICS * sets out which mental health records should be reported * provides $375m (£187m) a year for five years for states and state courts to improve processing of mental health information * states failing to comply could lose federal funds * states with good records could receive financial incentives
So, this is less about a new law and more about focusing existing law properly. It even has the backing of the NRA, something I’m sure will make many people suspicious of it. Certainly, the concern is justifiable. But while there is language in the law allowing those who’ve overcome mental illnesses to be cleared to own a gun, I don’t see a lot here that speaks to the “lunatic fringe” of gun rights we’ve so become accustomed to the NRA representing.