If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

It seems kind of crazy to me that we can’t require background checks on everyone who buys a gun. We can require people to jump through hoops to own, insure and operate a vehicle, but we can’t do it with gun owners? That’s nuts. Aren’t we all tired of seeing people gunned down in the streets by someone who shouldn’t have had a gun in the first place?

Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson shooter, and Virginia Tech shooter Seung Hui-Cho both passed gun background checks because their records were not in the system — even though Loughner had been rejected by the Army for drug use and Cho had been judged mentally ill through the courts.

Millions of records of criminals, drug abusers, mentally ill, and domestic violence offenders are missing from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. In fact, 28 states have submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to NICS.

About 40% of all gun sales are private. How convenient, since private, unlicensed sellers, who often sell at gun shows, aren’t required to do background checks. That’s how the Columbine High shooters got around the system: They bought guns at a gun show from an unlicensed seller: no paperwork, no questions asked.

The tide of public opinion, especially since the Tucson massacre, is turning in the direction of restrictions on gun sales. According to a bi-partisan poll conducted in January 2011 and just released by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a group with more than 550 members:

  • 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in the government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abuser and others from buying guns.
  • 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has introduced the “Fix Gun Background Checks Act”, which would help fix a lot of the problems. It gets the names of prohibited gun buyers into the system by toughening the financial penalties for states that don’t provide the data on felons, drug abusers, the mentally ill and other high-risk categories to NICS. It also clarifies the definitions of “mentally ill” and “drug abuse.”

One much-needed feature is that it establish mental health plans for colleges and universities: Federally funded colleges and universities will be required to report to a state mental health agency when a student is expelled or suspended due to mental health concerns. The state agency will then determine whether the person needs to be reported to NICS.

The bill allows some transfers of guns without background checks, including gifts of guns from one family member to another, loans of guns among people at a hunting or shooting range, and inheritance of guns.

These are all eminently sane and reasonable restrictions. Maybe it’s just time. Call your senator and ask him/her to support the bill.

One thought on “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again

  1. Susie, good points, but how will mental health coverage be funded and how will people get any help or even be identified?

    How will people get help? As of now, for some people, the “help” they get is no real help at all, just a jail cell*.

    NPR this morning: PA (under new R gov) to cut 41,467 from state subsidized low-income health services; WA (under Gregoire-D gov) to drop 17,500 adults from state coverage for the poor; and AZ (under Brewer, the R Obama’s naming of Napolitano to DHS put into the gov’s office, which she then won handily due to regressive treatment of immigrant and citizen Hispanics) to drop 250,000 from Medicaid.

    In WI, Scott Walker (R-Tyrant) of course, wants to make big cuts to health care for low income people.

    I couldn’t find this on Morning Edition’s list of segments, but, true to pattern, it’s basically from a NYTimes article.

    Mental health coverage in this nation is surely diminishing along with any health care for the poor. And, Obama, he’s doing…what???
    Nothing. He got his Big Health Industry Players’ Profit Protection plan (BHIP-PP**) passed and that’s all he’s going to do.

    Except for giving states exceptions to having to fund Medicaid.

    (BTW, I am no health care expert, but even I predicted states would begin to cut health care expenditures as their budgets woes got worse from lack of revenues. Which stem from the high jobless rates and the low tax revenues states feel they can demand of Big Bidnesses. Tax them? They might to to a lower tax state! And, per Chris “We dare not tax the rich!” Christie, the rich will leave all they have in a state if there are any tax increases on their pampered asses.

    Hey, Big O, how’s this jobless “recovery” working out for you? It’s not so great for us out here in the real world….)

    *The terrible thing is that no one can force someone into getting mental health care, until they do harm to themselves or others. Charlie Sheen, from what I can tell, is going through a manic phase of bi-polar disease. I told a friend it was like listening to a friend of ours who is bi-polar. Our friend is treated, but he cannot tell when his meds are no longer efficacious — it takes buying a Ferrari and then, coming down off the high, realizing he can’t even buy one by selling his house….

    Charlie Sheen has enough money to keep going without the right treatment. And he can get out of being jailed for what he did in NYCity. The poor schmuck who did something like that would find his ass in jail (maybe in Bellevue if it happened in NYC) — he might get actual care or he might get jail.

    It sickens me that the MCM (Mainstream Corporate Media) is using Charlie Sheen’s manifestations of his illness for its own profit. I can’t believe they had him on for interviews and are not tut-tutting about what he said. Sick society, sick budinesses.

    **BHIP-PP, pronounced “bee-hip pee pee.

Comments are closed.