There have been news stories the past few days of how the Republicans in Congress voted to revoke the law that says people with mental illness cannot buy guns. Under the new Republican-supported law, the stories say, those with a mental illness will be allowed to own firearms.
It's important to make a clarification. Saying merely that those with a mental illness will be allowed to buy guns sounds awful enough, but it's also a bit benign. There are a lot of levels of mental illness, of course, and many can function within society. What this law change does is something very different. And far more insidious and reprehensible.
The law in question is one that is tied to a Social Security Administration rule. It's not about someone, anyone who has a mental illness. It's about people who have a severe mentally disability. People who on their Social Security forms are listed as having by been judged to have a mental defect which is so profound that they lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. That they are insane enough and incompetent to not only stand trial, but to even sign contracts on their behalf.
That's who this rule affects. That's what is being revoked. Republicans are saying that if a person is so severely "mentally defective" (that's the SSA wording) that he or she can't even sign a contract...they can still buy a gun.
This has passed both the Republican-majority House and Senate. All that remains is a White House signature. I think we can figure out how that will go.
The Republicans in Congress are falling over themselves trying to explain away their unexplainable action. Consider the words of Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who said -- apparently with a straight face and not having his body constrict itself --
“This regulation unfairly stigmatizes people with disabilities. If the regulation is not repealed, it will allow the agency to very unfairly deprive Social Security recipients of their Second Amendment rights. The regulation would result in disability recipients being reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System as ineligible to own a firearm, and thus have their Second Amendment rights violated.”
Actually, no, it doesn't. It doesn't stigmatize people with disabilities, which covers a massive swath of citizens, almost all of whom aren't even slightly impacted by the rule. Again, it deals only -- solely -- with those people whose Social Security forms show them legally adjudged to be "mentally defective" to the degree that they can't even sign a contract for themselves.
There is nothing unfair about this. It even protects them from actions beyond their control -- and protects society, too. We protect society this way, as well, from those with felonies who are "deprived" and considered fairly so of their Second Amendment rights. We don't allow children to own gun, and consider this fair, too, with no one preaching of their Second Amendment rights being violated. There is substantive precedent of the nation restricting gun ownership, and restricting it fairly.
This has nothing to do with Second Amendment rights. This has everything to do with a craven Republican Party caving in to the gun manufacturer-owned NRA far-right fringe group, a terrorist organization that attempts to frighten the country into believing it is in such danger that only guns in the hands of all can save us.
Calling this revocation and twisted, disingenuous reasoning to be hypocritical doesn't go far enough, because for years Republicans (and the gun manufacturer-owned NRA) have hidden behind the safety of the law every time someone mentally defective has used a gun to shoot people -- or masses of people. "We have laws that protect against this very sort of thing," they have always decried, "and if only the laws that are on the books had been followed, a person like this who was mentally ill would not have been allowed access to owning a gun."
You know that phrase. You've heard it repeatedly, over and over, every time there's been a shooting, and most-especially a mass shooting, by someone with a severe mental illness. Which happens a lot.
So, here's the reality --
The next time someone with a severe mental disorder shoots people (and it will happen, because it's happened far too often in the past), the GOP will no longer be able to hide behind what they used in the past, decrying that "If only the law had been followed, they shouldn't have had access to guns." Because now, the GOP is set to give them that very access. And it not only *will* happen, but probably even far-more than before since now it will be actually legal for someone with a severe mental disorder to buy a gun.
The only question remains is...what on earth are Republicans in Congress thinking???!! Do they think there is a demand crying out in America for people with severe mental disorders to have guns? Yes, many elected officials come from heavy-gun states -- but I'll bet cash money that if you polled people in those very states, even there the people would be significantly opposed to anyone with a severe mental disorder having a gun. The only explanation is that they have this massive fear of the gun manufacturer-owned NRA right-wing fringe terrorist group. And have been offered so much money to make such an irresponsible act possible.
I hope that every Republican in Congress who voted for this bill is already starting to store up their "thoughts and prayers" for the families of gun victims killed by those who now will have access to firearms where they didn't before. But no matter how early they start stocking up, it won't be enough. Because "thoughts and prayers" aren't the answer. Not having this shameful abrogation of responsibility is.
Actually, there's one other explanation why this bill passed.. In granting those with a severe mental disorder the right to buy a gun, the Republicans in Congress wanted to end the prohibition that had been blocking them themselves from packing...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
Feedspot Badge of Honor