July 18, 2007

BIG BROTHERISM:

With little fanfare, the newly appointed Maryland State Police superintendent, Col. Terrence Sheridan, last month sent a letter to state gun dealers requiring that anyone who applies to purchase a handgun after July 31 sign a release allowing police access to the applicant’s mental health records.

According to a published report, by signing, the prospective buyer will be agreeing to let health agencies in Maryland and other states disclose any information about whether he or she has ever suffered from mental illness, has a history of violent behavior or has been confined in a mental health facility for more than 30 consecutive days.

Anyone who refuses to sign the release will be prevented from purchasing a handgun in Maryland.

The problem with this is — at least as it appears from this report — that this goes way beyond the mental conditions that disqualify people from owning guns, and instead allows police to troll through the mental health records of gun owners at will. As a matter of parity, then, let’s open up the records of Col. Sheridan and his officers to public inspection, since they all carry guns themselves . . . .

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