Saturday, February 18, 2017
Guns and Mental Health: The Albuquerque Journal Blows It
Sent to the Albuquerque Journal.
Your 2-18-17 editorial, "Senate, House hand guns to seriously mentally ill" was one of the more unfair pieces I have read in what usually is a pretty grounded newspaper. The notion that the National Rifle Association and Sen. Charles Grassley unleashed a horde of unbalanced and armed people onto the American public for self serving reasons is not grounded in facts.
As reported by the Washington Post and The Guardian, many reputable organizations opposed the Obama executive order requiring the Social Security Administration to report people requiring financial management oversight to the National Instant Background Check (NICS) system. These included the American Civil Liberties Union, National Association for Mental Health, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy, and the federal government’s own advisory group, the National Council on Disability. All of these organizations, a total of 23, criticized this executive order, as written, for two glaring problems.
One, there was little if any due process built into the reporting requirements. The executive order would have stripped people of their Second Amendment rights and forced them to fight to get them back.
Secondly, there was no evidence that the vast majority of those who would be reported to the NICS list by the Social Security Administration would be dangerous if allowed to keep guns. As Professor Jeffrey Swanson, a leading researcher on gun violence and mental health at Duke University stated, “The NRA, on this thing, has found itself on the side of science,”
Gun violence prevention is a critical problem in New Mexico. Getting it right rather than going off half-cocked is truly important.
ACLU: Gun Laws Should Be Fair