Don't Let Agenda-Driven Bureaucrats Set Policy on Guns and Mental Health

John Feinblatt, president and gun-grabbing propagandist extraordinaire for Everytown for Gun Safety, has published an adorable little fable in the The Hill about Senator Cornyn's (R-TX) bill known as the "Mental Health and Safe Communities Act." The op-ed is titled "Don't let the NRA set policy on guns and mental health."

Mr. Feinblatt opens with the question: "Do we really want to make it easier for people with dangerous mental illness to get guns?" He goes on to claim that the Cornyn bill "backed by the NRA" will do just that. (The bill is also backed by American Jail Association, Council of State Governments, Treatment Advocacy Center, National Association of Social Workers, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Association of Police Organizations,  and American Correctional Association. )


What Cornyn's bill does, among other things,  is clarify certain issues of mental illness with regard to the NICS system, the criminal justice system and law enforcement. One important feature of the bill is to clarify the way in which the term "adjudicated as mentally defective" is used.  Right now, it's ambiguous for the purposes of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Take, for example, the veterans who are targeted by the most recent gungrabbing efforts of the administration. The administration now wants to claim that any veteran who has a "representative payee" handle their finances is "mentally defective" and shouldn't be allowed to purchase a firearm. These folks would be added to the NICS system and denied their Second Amendment right without any due process.

Feinblatt writes, "And if your loved one is a veteran with dangerous mental illness? Right now, he can be prohibited from buying and possessing guns, after V.A. proceedings in which he has a right to a hearing. The NRA’s bill changes current law – and allows tens of thousands of veterans with mental illness such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder to get guns."

No it does not.

Here is the relevant part of the bill, curiously omitted by Mr. Feinblatt:

the term ‘has been adjudicated mentally incompetent or has been committed to a psychiatric hospital’, with respect to a person—

“(i) means the person is the subject of an order or finding by a judicial officer, court, board, commission, or other adjudicative body—

“(I) that was issued after—

“(aa) a hearing—

“(AA) of which the person received actual notice; and

“(BB) at which the person had an opportunity to participate with counsel; or

“(bb) the person knowingly and intelligently waived the opportunity for a hearing—

“(AA) of which the person received actual notice; and

“(BB) at which the person would have had an opportunity to participate with counsel; and

“(II) that found that the person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, mental impairment, mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease—

“(aa) was a danger to himself or herself or to others;

“(bb) was guilty but mentally ill in a criminal case, in a jurisdiction that provides for such a verdict;

“(cc) was not guilty in a criminal case by reason of insanity or mental disease or defect;

“(dd) was incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case;

“(ee) was not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility under section 850a of title 10 (article 50a of the Uniform Code of Military Justice);

“(ff) required involuntary inpatient treatment by a psychiatric hospital for any reason, including substance abuse; or

“(gg) required involuntary outpatient treatment by a psychiatric hospital based on a finding that the person is a danger to himself or herself or to others; and

“(ii) does not include—

“(I) an admission to a psychiatric hospital for observation; or

“(II) a voluntary admission to a psychiatric hospital.

“(B) In this paragraph, the term ‘order or finding’ does not include—

“(i) an order or finding that has expired or has been set aside or expunged;

“(ii) an order or finding that is no longer applicable because a judicial officer, court, board, commission, or other adjudicative body has found that the person who is the subject of the order or finding—

“(I) does not present a danger to himself or herself or to others;

“(II) has been restored to sanity or cured of mental disease or defect;

“(III) has been restored to competency; or

“(IV) no longer requires involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment by a psychiatric hospital; or

“(iii) an order or finding with respect to which the person who is subject to the order or finding has been granted relief from disabilities under section 925(c), under a program described in section 101(c)(2)(A) or 105 of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (18 U.S.C. 922 note), or under any other State-authorized relief from disabilities program of the State in which the original commitment or adjudication occurred.

So what we see above is that the bill removes the VA as an arbiter (or any government agency) and places the process in the adversarial court system.  Before you start having your rights stripped away by some agenda-driven bureaucrat, you get to have your day in court. That this is so controversial is beyond me.