NRA: Trading something for nothing isn't compromise.


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F4GIB
April 24, 2007, 11:34 AM
April 24, 2007

1234 Apple Street
Duluth, Minnesota


Dear Mr. X:

Thank you for sharing with me your thoughts regarding the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Act (H.R. 297).

H.R. 297 would authorize new funding to help states enter their felony criminal convictions, mental disability, and domestic violence records into the NICS. Gun dealers use the system to search federal and state databases for information that would disqualify a person from buying a firearm.

Many of the problems over gun control legislation center on the inadequacy of NICS records; inaccurate or incomplete records delay firearm purchases and can result in denial of the right to purchase a gun. The National Rifle Association supports H.R. 297, which would help fix these problems. The bill would require the removal of records that are incorrect or irrelevant to determining a personís eligibility to possess a firearm. [ED. - But NRA is getting nothing in return for it's support but a feeling of good citizenship.]

Rest assured that I will keep your views in mind should H.R. 297 come before the full House of Representatives for a vote.

If you would like to receive periodic e-mail updates on issues before Congress, please visit my Web site, www.house.gov/oberstar, and go to "subscribe."

With best wishes.

Sincerely,

James L. Oberstar, M.C.

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Creeping Incrementalism
April 24, 2007, 04:30 PM
I believe what the NRA thinks it is getting in return is more law-abiding gun owners, since less are likely to be turned away by false NICS denials.

heypete
April 25, 2007, 02:54 AM
I'm somewhat unclear on this bill...it looks like it would help to make NICS data more accurate, by providing more state and local level information on prohibited persons.

By law, these prohibited persons should be blocked by NICS but for whatever reason, they're not listed in the NICS database because the data hasn't gotten to the feds from the local and state authorities.

I fail to see how it's a bad thing that NICS contains more accurate information about prohibited persons. Perhaps someone could clarify for me?

JohnBT
April 25, 2007, 08:33 AM
It's going to run into trouble. It's already running into trouble.

"Leading mental health professionals are watching the debate closely."

"The NRA declined to comment, but a source close to the gun lobby said resistance to issues pertaining to mental health records has historically come from the medical community, not from the NRA. "

John
___________________________________________
Legislative Push on Guns Raises Privacy Concerns
BY RUSSELL BERMAN - Staff Reporter of the Sun
April 24, 2007

URL: http://www.nysun.com/article/53056

WASHINGTON ó An effort in Congress to enhance federal gun background checks is raising concerns among leaders in the mental health community, who worry that a legislative push could unfairly target the mentally ill and deter troubled people from seeking treatment.

The officials also cited concerns about protecting the confidentiality of patient records and questioned the wording of the current federal law, which they said was outdated and even pejorative. "The focus on the mentally ill is a distraction from the issues surrounding gun control," a past president of the American Psychiatric Association, Paul Applebaum, said.

The unease within the mental health community comes as lawmakers in Washington are reacting to last week's massacre at Virginia Tech, in which a student with a history of mental illness gunned down 32 classmates and teachers before killing himself.

A judge in 2005 ruled that Cho Seung-Hui "presents an imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness," a determination that should have barred him under federal law from buying the two handguns he used in the killings. Federal restrictions enacted in 1968 prohibit the purchase of guns by those who have been "adjudicated as a mental defective" or "involuntarily committed to a mental institution."

Virginia officials have said the sale was legal under state law, but lawmakers including Senator Schumer and a New York congresswoman, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, have suggested that the deaths were preventable, citing loopholes in the federal background-check database. The database, known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, relies on the submission by state and local agencies of disqualifying information, including mental health records.

Mr. Schumer and Ms. McCarthy say the system is incomplete because state and local governments do not have enough money to submit records; they are reintroducing a bill that combines an infusion of $375 million in funding to help keep the database up to date along with penalties for states that do not comply. Twenty-two states submit mental health information to the database, according to the FBI, and in an ironic twist, Virginia is the leading state in reporting "mental defective" entries.

Leading mental health professionals are watching the debate closely, wary of legislative language and political rhetoric that is overly broad or exacerbates stigmas associated with mental illness. They are quick to note that only a small percentage of violent crimes are committed by people who are mentally ill.

"I think we all share the goal of ensuring that people who are potentially dangerous don't have guns," the legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Ronald Honberg, said. "But if you do this the wrong way, this could end up creating a major disincentive for people who need mental health treatment to seek that treatment. We already have a big problem with that."

Formed in 1979, the alliance represents about 200,000 Americans with mental illness and their families.

"If somebody thinks that by seeking treatment that they're potentially going to go in an FBI database, that could really be a powerful deterrent," Mr. Honberg said.

The alliance and leading psychiatrists also object to the use of the term "mental defective" in defining the type of person who cannot legally purchase a gun.

"I don't know what that means as a technical term," the president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association, Carolyn Robinowitz, said. She said the phrase might date back several decades. "It's not a term with any diagnostic validity."

Dr. Applebaum, now the director of the division of psychiatry, law, and ethics at Columbia University, said: "Not only is it a pejorative term, but it is an ambiguous one."

Federal regulations define adjudication as a "mental defective" as a determination made by a "court, board, commission or other lawful authority" that a person is "a danger to himself or to others; or lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs." The prohibition on gun purchases also applies to those found to be insane in a criminal case, not competent to stand trial, or not guilty by reason of insanity.

Mr. Honberg contends the language is overly broad and vague, saying it does not address the possibility that a person may be successfully treated for an illness. The alliance in past years has urged adding a provision that limits the number of years a person's mental health records could remain in the background check system.

He and other psychiatrists also expressed privacy concerns about the database and efforts to expand it. The American Civil Liberties Union, which often raises objections surrounding privacy issues, takes no position on gun control laws, a spokesman said.

Legislation aimed at barring the mentally ill from purchasing guns has drawn more criticism from health officials than the National Rifle Association, known for its steadfast opposition to laws restricting gun ownership. The group is negotiating with congressional leaders on the legislation, which is not expected to come for a vote before May. The NRA declined to comment, but a source close to the gun lobby said resistance to issues pertaining to mental health records has historically come from the medical community, not from the NRA.

rhubarb
April 25, 2007, 09:30 AM
Any law that requires an involutary database of personal information to be kept by the government is a violation of our Right of freedom from unreasonable search; an invasion of privacy.

To do so for the purpose of determining eligibility for allowing us to exercise our rights is out-and-out tyranny.

heypete
April 25, 2007, 10:38 AM
rhubarb -- I generally agree that NICS is unconstitutional, generally ineffective, and "not right"...but it is the law (at least for now).

The law prohibits people who meet certain criteria from buying firearms from a dealer. If prohibited people are able to purchase guns from dealers simply because the record of their prohibiting offensive hasn't been transmitted to NICS, then that's a bad thing, whether or not it's because they're convicted felons, mentally ill, or any of the other prohibiting offenses.

By law, these people should have been in the NICS records anyway. I'm not really sure why, given the current law, that these records should not be in there. Yes, I'd love to repeal GCA68 and the Brady Bill (not to mention NFA34), but I don't see how this makes any difference to the status quo.

CCMO
April 25, 2007, 04:42 PM
"I think we all share the goal of ensuring that people who are potentially dangerous don't have guns," the legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Ronald Honberg, said. "But if you do this the wrong way, this could end up creating a major disincentive for people who need mental health treatment to seek that treatment. We already have a big problem with that."

In other words, "I don't want to see a doctor about my mental problems because I might not be allowed to acquire firearms in the future if the doctor decides I present an immenent danger?" Yup, absolutely! Sounds like a GREAT idea to me.

Is there anyone out there who truly believes it was a good thing that Mr. Cho was able to buy weapons because the NICS database did not include his mental health disqualifier? NOTE: I am under the impression that the doctor's evaluation did in fact disqualify Mr. Cho under federal law as mentioned in a previous posting; if I'm mistaken, I apologize and withdraw the comment.

As much as I support the RKBA -- I'm a member of JPFO, (http://www.jpfo.org) for goodness' sake -- I still believe we have to at least try to restrict otherwise legal purchases to legally qualified buyers. NICS does assist towards that end, and if it could be made more effective I'm in favor of the idea. My two cents. YMMV.

mdao
April 25, 2007, 05:28 PM
Is there anyone out there who truly believes it was a good thing that Mr. Cho was able to buy weapons because the NICS database did not include his mental health disqualifier? NOTE: I am under the impression that the doctor's evaluation did in fact disqualify Mr. Cho under federal law as mentioned in a previous posting; if I'm mistaken, I apologize and withdraw the comment.

Mr. Cho's TDO shows exactly why we should be afraid of this.

Link to Mr. Cho's TDO (http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/years/2007/0419071cho1.html)

Just read the text.

The situation in a nutshell:

Someone managed to convince a judge that Cho was mentally unstable.
Doctor found that Cho were depressed, but otherwise mentally fine. It is specifically noted that Cho was not a danger to himself or others.
Judge goes against doctor's diagnosis, says Cho was a danger to himself.


Should someone permanently lose their gun rights for that? I don't think so.

Plink
April 25, 2007, 06:08 PM
I can almost relate to their way of thinking. Before I got my CHL, I was ALWAYS delayed by NICS. I have absolutely nothing on my record that should cause a delay. I never could understand the delays, other than fouled up records. Since we're stuck with the system, the least they can do is get it working right. Afterall, it's supposed to be "instant". I guess it doesn't matter anymore since my CHL lets me pay and walk, but it's still a crapshoot for those who don't have a CHL, or in states that don't allow it.

AJ Dual
April 25, 2007, 06:15 PM
Well, it seems to me that in this case, "nothing" is exactly what we want here. "Nothing", as in: No other substantive gun control bills passing either house in the wake of the VT shootings.

My guess is that the NRA is letting the anti's pour all their effort into this bill so they can go before their anti constituencies and say they "did something", and "made even the NRA see reason". etc. etc. etc. All the while, all the NRA did is support a bill that just reiterates what the law on the books already is.

I'm not a full-time NRA apologist either. For instance, I'm less than thrilled with what they're doing to sabotage the Parker case getting cert before SCOTUS. However, in this instance, I think they might just be crazy like a fox. Their lobbyists know the ins and outs of Capitol Hill, and we don't. So I'll give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

In terms of a football analogy, the NRA always has had a "first down" mentality when it came to strategy. Which is probably why Parker scares the bejezus out of them, and no other ulterior motives. And in general, they're right. Playing the odds, you rarely win on 100 yard punt returns or Hail-Mary passes.

RIDE
April 25, 2007, 06:27 PM
The NRA has become an absolute joke.

Compromise???

Do they have any clause that allows life members a refund, maybe a pro-rated refund???

CCMO
April 26, 2007, 04:42 PM
My original comment:
I am under the impression that the doctor's evaluation did in fact disqualify Mr. Cho under federal law as mentioned in a previous posting; if I'm mistaken, I apologize and withdraw the comment.

Response from mdao:
The situation in a nutshell:
Someone managed to convince a judge that Cho was mentally unstable.
Doctor found that Cho were depressed, but otherwise mentally fine. It is specifically noted that Cho was not a danger to himself or others.
Judge goes against doctor's diagnosis, says Cho was a danger to himself.
Should someone permanently lose their gun rights for that? I don't think so.

mdao:

I agree, and withraw my earlier comment. :o I thought the doctor's statement declared Cho a danger to himself but not others. I did not realize that the judge made the "danger" declaration in spite of the doctor's statement. I definitely do NOT believe that a judge should have the ability to deny someone's RKBA for mental instability when the mental health professional does not concur that the individual represents a danger.

DWARREN123
April 26, 2007, 05:11 PM
NICS will not be made more effective, it's the government and they just don't work that way. The system will not be made better it will just get more complicated and cause more problems.
Name one thing the government has simplified and that works well!

JohnBT
April 26, 2007, 05:32 PM
The IRS implemented TeleTax for us folks on the short form. All it took was a touch-tone phone to input the numbers and the refund check came in the mail.

I used it 2 years and they discontinued it. :mad:

;)

John

Henry Bowman
April 26, 2007, 05:34 PM
I'm old enough to remember life before NICS (the Brady background check requirement). The world was able to revolve just fine before then. Crime had reached a peak in the USA in the early '90s and "something" had to be done. Similar reasoning brought about the GCA '68.

It disturbs me that NICS is so universally accepted as a "good thing" and an absolutely "reasonable" infringement. It is an infringement, It didn't used be be required to exercise a Constitutionally protected human right; now it is. I understand that this absolutely will be one of the most difficult laws to repeal. A majority of gun owners support it.

Some law-abiding citizens have been harmed by it. It is an ineffective and broken law. I oppose "fixing it" because as fewer innocent people get tripped by it, there will be even fewer supporters to repeal it. That may seem wierd, but there is no shame in advocating extreme liberty for the innocent. This dumb law, broken or fixed, will not prevent the next VT (Columbine, etc.) incident. Nothing will. Focus needs to (continue to) be on eliminating prohibitions that inhibit stopping once it has begun.

DomMega
April 26, 2007, 05:49 PM
Any law that requires an involutary database of personal information to be kept by the government is a violation of our Right of freedom from unreasonable search; an invasion of privacy.

To do so for the purpose of determining eligibility for allowing us to exercise our rights is out-and-out tyranny.


Think so? How would you like guns to be sold to people then? By taking the position you're taking, you're saying I don't care if someone is a gangmember, a rapist, a murderer, or a 3 time felon, don't invade the privacy of their past by prohibiting them from buying a weapon. Do you think a mass murderer, rapist, etc. is going to volunteer his/her background information so they won't be able to purchase a weapon? Probably not. There's gotta be at least ONE barrier as far as judging you as a responsible law-abiding person. Plus you're putting the gun dealer at risk.

I don't think that's tyranny in the slightest, I think its smart. If criminals have to get their guns from underground ways, then fine, but I'd rather that than just being able to go to WalMart or something and buy shotguns and rifles for the purpose of crime. So I have no problem with background checks in the least. I DO however have a problem with the 10 day wait garbage I gotta put up with out here in Cali.

Henry Bowman
April 26, 2007, 06:30 PM
If criminals have to get their guns from underground ways, then fine, but I'd rather that than just being able to go to WalMart or something and buy shotguns and rifles for the purpose of crime.Why? What's the difference in outcome?

The answer is that if we know them to be dangerous with a firearm, they are dangerous without one as well. If we know them to be a danger to society, they should locked up. If we don't "know," then we have no business imposing any prior restraint on their (our) rights. You seem to have made an assumption that there is something special or suspect about firearms or Second Amendment rights. If so, you first need to justify your assumption.

Even giving you some room with your argument, there is a huge difference between a database of criminal convictions (public record) and personal medical information.

Neo-Luddite
April 26, 2007, 06:48 PM
At the end of the day, this is about increasing those who are in a disapproved category. It is setting things up for some (potential) ugliness down the road. Get on the 'crazy' list and just try getting off. Feeling bummed after your last tour in Iraq, getting some help to get back on your feet, on meds after your divorce, you'll feel better without you guns around.

This will keep people who likely need psych meds and treatment from getting help. My fear is that I might be in that catagory myself now or later along with a few others.

Gifted
April 26, 2007, 07:17 PM
I wrote this on LJ, in response to some of this. It'll basically become the short version of a letter to Congress Critters. Note that while this includes some of the stuff in 297, I included more for us. Not sure how many of my current critters will listen, but I'll send the letters.

The only way it works is if you have a court hearing set up so that you have due process. And you need reconiliation too. The court decides, and requires so much evidence from various head-shrinkers to establish such things. This way, they can't just decide everyone who needed some meds at some point is on the list, and you can appeal the decision to keep an idiot judge from rubberstamping people.

You could add some stuff about violent and nonviolent felonies, and repealing the Lautenburg amendment, and restoring the restoration of felons' rights process.

rmt22
April 26, 2007, 07:23 PM
I have handled NUMEROUS commitment hearings and I believe you are letting paranoia cloud your judgment.

Judges ROUTINELY decide issues in this country. In the Leopold and Lobe (sp?) which may be the most famous criminal trial pre OJ was decided by a judge (that was the sentencing issue, which was the only issue).

When a sitting judge decides you are a danger to the community/yourself that should be enough to deny you from ever legally purchasing a gun.

Do you realize "how whacked" you have to be to see a judge in this situation. This guy was stalking multiple girls. His teachers were totally freaked out by this guy. The only thing this guy didn't do was confess on the front end.

My experience w/ commitment hearings is this is where the cops take the people who are too freaked out to go to jail.

Considering probably 90+% of the people in jail have serious mental issues it really shows you the standard being used.

I keep seeing posts about WE DON'T WANT THAT! Has anyone here been to a commitment hearing. I suggest you all do some local research.

People who have been judged a danger to themselves/others are probably more of a risk than 50% of the convicted felons.

Do you want felons to have guns too?

Derek Zeanah
April 26, 2007, 07:28 PM
When a sitting judge decides you are a danger to the community/yourself that should be enough to deny you from ever legally purchasing a gun.Then why ever let them out? If they're too stupid to find a way to get a gun other than going to WalMart or the local pawn shop, they'll still have access to matches, gasoline, knives, chainsaws, rope, used busses and RVs, and all sorts of dangerous things.

Re: felons. Why not? Does the fact that a guy got caught selling pot when he was 19 mean he should be denied the means to protect his twin daughters against predators now, 20 years later?

romma
April 26, 2007, 08:21 PM
Serious pro-gunners better get on board with a viable alternative to the NRA because Antis' will smoke us before we get organized again... Most of our eggs are in one basket, and that basket has begun to run amok it would seem. :uhoh:

tmg19103
April 26, 2007, 08:24 PM
I have a female friend who was going through a divorce. She is a very normal person with no mental illness. In an agrument on the phone with her soon-to-be ex-husband she said: "what are you trying to do, drive me to kill myself" (this guy really knew how to pull her strings in a cruel way). He said: "Why, are you suicidal". She said: "I might as well be the way you are treating me".

Now this guy is a scumbag who knows all the tricks as they fought for child custody. This woman does not have a dangerous or suicidal bone in her body. The husband called the cops, she admitted she made the statement but stated she never said she was suicidal and that she is not suicidal. She was arrested and taken to the psych ward. Fortunately the shrink was cool about it and understood, but what could happen today after Cho?

I'll tell you - I'm concerned. You have to be VERY, VERY careful what you say, which is a shame. This just makes life too serious. No more jokes, no more mistakes. You make one - you are mentally defective and can never own a gun.

It's not the states sharing NICS info with the feds that scares me. It's how draconian our courts could become just to prevent another Cho.

rmt22
April 26, 2007, 09:22 PM
if you want to really get the ex-wife why not plant some coke on her then call the police.

do you people worry about cops planting evidence on you too?

I think all of you will have a higher chance of a "bad" cop planting evidence or completely lying than a "bad" judge thinking you are mentally disturbed when you are not.

I challenge ONE PERSON who has ACTUALLY SEEN a commitment hearing to tell me he is worried about it happening UNJUSTLY!

Judges are actually VERY GOOD at deciding who should be in the PSYCH WARD.

I would MUCH RATHER be judged by a judge than a doctor.

You people keep thinking they are committing people for minor acts. This is NOT the case.

Could someone conspire and get you unjustly committed? Could that same someone plant some coke on you and get you unjustly arrested/jailed?

The nature of our society forces us to trust cops, judges, and juries and this is for something REALLY IMPORTANT like your LIBERTY!

In some jurisdictions this guy could have possibly been locked up for his stalking.

You people do put liberty above gun ownership right?

gyp_c2
April 26, 2007, 09:26 PM
...+1 with HB...I too, remember what it was like to buy without permission...
Focus needs to (continue to) be on eliminating prohibitions that inhibit stopping once it has begun.

http://emoticons4u.com/smoking/rauch06.gif
I prefer rights instead of protection...I can take care of myself, thank you very much...:scrutiny:

Derek Zeanah
April 26, 2007, 09:31 PM
The nature of our society forces us to trust cops, judges, and juries and this is for something REALLY IMPORTANT like your LIBERTY!

In some jurisdictions this guy could have possibly been locked up for his stalking.

You people do put liberty above gun ownership right?Ummm, what?

Black Prince
April 26, 2007, 10:21 PM
Today I got an e-mail survey from "Polling Point" that takes surveys on many things. I get one about once a month. Today it was about how to prevent more incidents like the VT shootings. I told them that cops get shot and killed every day. They are armed, wear bullet retarding vests, and have defensive training. John Hinkley shot President Reagan despite all of the highly trained Secret Service men sourrounding him. If cops can't not prevent themselves from being shot, and the Secret Service can not prevent presidents from being shot, whatinhell does anyone think they are going to do to prevent it from happening having none of the specialized training given cops and the Secret Service? The correct answer is NOT A DAM THING!!!

But there are all sorts of people floating all sorts of ideas out there and they all say it is to prevent more killings. They may whiz on your leg and tell you it is raining, but I know better. The reason they want this mental stuff to prevent anyone from having a firearm is nothing less than just ONE MORE way to prevent you from owning a firearm and THAT is the real goal.

If Cho had been turned in by the doctors and his mental status had been in NICS, does anyone here really think that he would simply have stopped his plan to kill people because he could not obtain a firearm legally? Is it not also illegal to kill 31 people? What in the world makes anyone think a law would have stopped Cho? NOTHING would have stopped Cho. He could have simply rented a car and drove it into a crowd of students at VT. Would his mental records have been checked before Avis rented him a car? Or better yet, he could have rented a big U-Haul truck and used it as a weapon. Does U-Haul check mental status before renting trucks?

The weapon used should not be the focus and if it had not been a firearm, it wouldn't be. Does anyone here believe if Cho had used a U-Haul truck that we would have this call for a new law or to "do something?" If he had used a truck, we would have had the "it's a tradegy" statements from all the usual suspects and it would have been over in a day or two. It is ONLY because Cho used a firearm that this issue has gone on and on. THAT is because the agenda is to BAN ALL FIREARMS and that is what this is all about. The liberals don't give a fig about the mentally ill. It is just a weapon to be used against us and if it is made into law, it will be there for any future administration like say Hilary Clinton, to use against you. If her attorney general thinks the law means something the law does not say, do you think for one minute it would make any difference? Ask those at Waco or Ruby Ridge about that.

This mental business is going to be abused and used against all of us if it gets through. Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teen aged boys. DON'T DO IT!!! I'll take my chances with the mental nuts getting guns, but you don't stand a chance against what your government did at Waco and Ruby Ridge.

Geister
April 27, 2007, 04:10 AM
Is there anyone out there who truly believes it was a good thing that Mr. Cho was able to buy weapons because the NICS database did not include his mental health disqualifier?

How about instead of focusing on whether or not Cho could have bought a firearm, we focus instead on allowing CHLers to pack in class and on campus?

Cho would have killed people even if he was denied a handgun purchase.

Caimlas
April 27, 2007, 06:48 AM
I generally agree that NICS is unconstitutional, generally ineffective, and "not right"...but it is the law (at least for now).

It's legal in my state to shoot five or more Indians (that is, Native Americans) crossing the river, and 3 or more Indians in Sturgis is considered a War Party and grounds for shooting as well. Nobody obeys these laws, because they're stupid and would harm innocent people.

Just because it's a law does not mean it is right. It is the duty and obligation of a moral man to disobey unjust laws just as he obeys just ones.

Cho would have killed people even if he was denied a handgun purchase.

Yep. A sharp sword in an enclosed area will kill and maim people just as quickly as a pistol - if not moreso, if he were to manage to get them into the hallway with the assistance of a smoke bomb or three.

I personally have no problems with NICS checks for such things, HOWEVER! there is a huge problem because a person can be committed for damn near anything, and the health care 'professionals' more often than not seem to characterize anything male (aggression, not talking about emotions, terseness, etc.) as being 'ill' - and wanting guns is the very definition of mental illness.

I just wish we'd use a more common sense, communal approach, honestly. I don't know what that approach would be in today's society, but I imagine in former years that they may have said, "do not fail to prevent Mr. John Wilkins from bearing arms; he is f*cking nuts, sir, and is not fit to do so."

Also consider: if Cho wasn't "fit to buy guns" he wasn't fit to vote (whether he did or not is another question).

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