House Democrats introduce new gun-control bill focusing on mental health

posted at 6:51 pm on May 30, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The tragedy in Isla Vista, California last Friday that resulted in the deaths of six people via both shooting and stabbing has resurrected many of the usual calls for Congress to Do Something by advocating for more gun control, and last night, the House did come together to pass a small but fairly uncontroversial Something in the way of better funding for the country’s criminal background check system:

The amendment, which passed in a floor vote by 260 to 145, was attached to a 2015 appropriations bill by California Rep. Mike Thompson, a Democrat, along with three Republican co-sponsors – Reps. Peter King (R-N.Y.), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Pa.), and Joe Heck (R-Nev.) – and Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.). …

If signed into law, the amendment would increase funding for the criminal background checks system by $19.5 million – raising the total funding level for the program to $78 million – to help ensure states have the necessary resources to submit additional records of prohibited firearm purchasers to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. …

“It will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make us all safer, but we need to do more,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement Thursday night. “Congress needs to listen to the American public and expand federal background checks to include guns sold online and at gun shows so that any improvement to the background check system applies to all commercial gun sales.”

Bolstering our already-existing background checks system as the House just did is all well and good, but what is this “more” that needs to be done to which the Brady Campaign keeps referring? How would expanding the system to guns sold online and at gun shows have done anything in the slightest to prevent the heinous crime in Isla Vista?

The short answer, of course, is that it wouldn’t have, but a handful of House Democrats are hoping to keep pushing the gun-control issue by incorporating more mental-health criteria into the existing prohibitions on people who can have guns:

Sponsored by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), the measure would expand the list of people prohibited from buying or possessing guns to include a broader swath of mental health patients and convicted criminals. …

The Democrats’ bill would expand the federal prohibition on gun sales to include those convicted of misdemeanor stalking, as well as those receiving involuntary mental health services on an outpatient basis, if a court deems them dangerous. The current ban applies largely to those committed on an inpatient basis.

The proposal would also provide states grant money to help local authorities bolster gun-violence prevention programs. One such effort, the Democrats suggest, would be to empower police to seek warrants to seize firearms from those they believe might use them to harm themselves or others. …

It’s unclear if the bill’s measures could have prevented the recent Santa Barbara shooting — something even the Democrats acknowledge.

But that, Thompson said Friday, “is no excuse not to try to do what we can do.”

Actually, the fact that the bill would likely do nothing to prevent the type of mass shootings that it hopes to eradicate is kind of an excellent reason not to enact it. I haven’t looked at the specifics of their proposal yet, but I don’t see this bill gaining much traction as-is with the rest of the House for a few reasons, not the least of which is that trying to regulate firearms possession based on mental health issues can be a tricky and slippery slope. It might make sense for people that a court has specifically deemed dangerous, but as Charles C.W. Cooke at NRO and Jacob Sullum at Reason have both elucidated in excellent pieces, legislating crazy is a tough business: Neither the Isla Vista shooter’s neighbors, relatives, and therapists nor the police definitively picked up on his homicidal intent ahead of time. As Sullum puts it, there are any number of depressed, lonely, and alienated people in the world, and almost none of them do anything like what he did.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

So no liberal will ever be able to own a gun? Works for me…

RoadRunner on May 30, 2014 at 6:59 PM

Couldn’t miss a target any worse if you tried.

Bmore on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Who defines mental illness?

ladyingray on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

If this is your final post, Erika, let me say again “good luck” on your pursuit of your degree and the endeavors to follow.

Have enjoyed your snark and your depth of knowledge on enviro issues.

Bitter Clinger on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

I sure mental illness will be defined as anyone not voting democrat.

darwin on May 30, 2014 at 7:03 PM

If this is your final post, Erika, let me say again “good luck” on your pursuit of your degree and the endeavors to follow.

Have enjoyed your snark and your depth of knowledge on enviro issues.

Bitter Clinger on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

I second that!

darwin on May 30, 2014 at 7:04 PM

This kid had a clean background.

Yet another example of “doing something” that actually has absolutely no useful value.

Good luck on your future endeavors, Erika! You’ll be missed.

kim roy on May 30, 2014 at 7:08 PM

The Democrats’ bill would expand the federal prohibition on gun sales to include those convicted of misdemeanor stalking, as well as those receiving involuntary mental health services on an outpatient basis, if a court deems them dangerous.

Very dicey. You could be receiving “involuntary” mental health services for alcohol abuse … and nowadays we know the court is the last place you want your rights determined.

darwin on May 30, 2014 at 7:10 PM

I used to have extreme anxiety that was so bad it caused chest pains. I tried to just deal but finally the doc found a med that helped but that same med is also used for other more severe issues. After about 15 years I wanted to see if I could do without it so I weaned myself off of it and rarely do I have a problem and it’s been about 2 years now. So slippery slope when you try to judge mental health if something like this becomes law, especially if you base it on meds taken.

kahall on May 30, 2014 at 7:11 PM

Who defines mental illness? ladyingray on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

PRISM in Utah, and google.

wolly4321 on May 30, 2014 at 7:11 PM

One such effort, the Democrats suggest, would be to empower police to seek warrants to seize firearms from those they believe might use them to harm themselves or others. …

Oh … what a convenient way for democrats to terrorize innocent people and those they consider “enemies”.

That would get way out of hand.

darwin on May 30, 2014 at 7:13 PM

“House Democrats introduce new gun-control bill focusing on mental health”

..NOTE: it’s doesn’t focus on MENTAL ILLNESS because that would be targeting THEMSELVES!

MicahStone on May 30, 2014 at 7:15 PM

Should you fail to vote for The Fűhrer… The Reich will deem you to be crazy.

viking01 on May 30, 2014 at 7:16 PM

I see a big runaround the side grab…
You own a gun? You must have some kind of mental disease!
Obamacare was made for these type of bennies.

trs on May 30, 2014 at 7:16 PM

So if someone who passes all the stringent background checks buys a gun and keeps it at home, and their crazy son or brother steals the gun and commits mass-murder, how have the background checks prevented any crimes?

This was the case of the Newtown, CT shooter, who stole his mother’s gun, shot her with it, then went to the nearest elementary school and started shooting 6-year-olds. Do we blame his mother, who is now dead? Do we have to do background checks on all family members of prospective gun owners, just in case one might steal the gun and shoot people with it? What about all the burglars that might steal the gun?

Steve Z on May 30, 2014 at 7:18 PM

“Congress needs to listen to the American public and expand federal background checks to include guns sold online and at gun shows so that any improvement to the background check system applies to all commercial gun sales.”

Just turn off your brain and ignore the indisputable fact that California already had just such a background check system in-place and it failed to stop Elliot Rodger.

Socratease on May 30, 2014 at 7:22 PM

House Democrats introduce new gun-control bill focusing on mental health

Relaaaaax. I’ve been informed by several level-headed people throughout the years that, “They’re NOT coming for your guns…chill” or something to that effect.

Dr. ZhivBlago on May 30, 2014 at 7:33 PM

It will be called the Dingy Harry Bill…..

d1carter on May 30, 2014 at 7:41 PM

Oh, goody. The mentally incompetent trying to pass incomprehensible bills to keep a universally available product from the hands of the mentally ill. Our tax dollars at work.

vnvet on May 30, 2014 at 7:44 PM

Isn’t it a hoot that a great many government officials fear an armed populace even though few government officials have been harmed by the armed populace, in general. What else could they possibly want, then?

ExpressoBold on May 30, 2014 at 7:47 PM

I’m very sure all criminals and people at risk mentally will adhere to the new laws about gun control. What is fascinating is politicians think they can legislate rules to criminals and the insane.

mixplix on May 30, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Do these short bus warriors realize it was they who put the roadblocks in the way of actually doing something about the potentially dangerous mentally ill?

Mimzey on May 30, 2014 at 7:52 PM

What is fascinating is politicians think they can legislate rules to criminals and the insane.

mixplix on May 30, 2014 at 7:51 PM

Why not? Works for them. They’ve been operating under their own rules since Jefferson.

de rigueur on May 30, 2014 at 7:58 PM

As many of you have surmised, this will be used most effectively as a hammer against those Not In Favor with Der Führer. Your purchased will be denied when the gun shop calls and that’s TS, sailor.

Tard on May 30, 2014 at 8:07 PM

To all of you self proclaimed Constitutional Conservatives out there, where in the Constitution had the Federal govt given the authority to regulate or prohibit marihuana?

antifederalist on May 30, 2014 at 8:42 PM

“It will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make us all safer, but we need to do more,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement Thursday night. “Congress needs to listen to the American public and expand federal background checks to include guns sold online and at gun shows so that any improvement to the background check system applies to all commercial gun sales.”

Federal background checks already apply to all commercial sales whether they take place in a gun store, online or at a gun show. This is one of the standard canards that the grabbers always present.

climbnjump on May 30, 2014 at 8:44 PM

It will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people and make us all safer, but we need to do more,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a statement

Gross is full of shit, as usual. Rodger passed THREE background checks and THREE waiting periods. AND he used 10-round POLITICALLY CORRECT magazines.

The People’s Republik of Kalifornia has enacted about every liberal law regarding “gun control”. The state gets an “A” rating from the idiots in the Brady Bunch.

So what happened?

GarandFan on May 30, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Do these short bus warriors realize it was they who put the roadblocks in the way of actually doing something about the potentially dangerous mentally ill?

Mimzey on May 30, 2014 at 7:52 PM

That went into full swing with the Community Mental Health Act stripping funding to asylums and then the implementation of SSI benefits in the early 70′s… so now the mentally ill can live under the bridge & get robbed.

The fact is 96% of those living with mental illness are not violent & are more often the victims of violence by those who are not mentally ill.

Don’t be fooled – the politicians are using this situation to erode gun rights.

batterup on May 30, 2014 at 9:07 PM

Who defines mental illness?

ladyingray on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

It’s a one question form: Did you vote Republican in the last election?

Grammar Nazi on May 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

How would expanding the system to guns sold online and at gun shows have done anything in the slightest to prevent the heinous crime in Isla Vista?

The current background (NICS) system does apply to guns sold online and at gun shows. If you buy a gun online, it must be shipped to an FFL dealer who would then do a background check just like they are selling one of their guns. A gun show is not a magical place where the laws of man and gravity do not apply. A gun show just has booths where gun stores sell guns following the same laws as if it was their own store. What people mean by this is a ban on private sales. Do I have to pay a gun store $75 to do a background check to sell a gun to my friend? The only way someone would know is if there is gun registration. What idiot thinks a criminal wanting to buy a gun is going to pay to have a background check done?

wambat on May 30, 2014 at 9:30 PM

the measure would expand the list of people prohibited from buying or possessing guns to include a broader swath of mental health patients and convicted criminals

And the Leftards said they weren’t for curving ‘law abiding’ citizens right to own guns. They are just narrowing who that actually is. Soon no one will be able to own a gun.

Patriot Vet on May 30, 2014 at 9:39 PM

As usual, Democrats take a Second Amendment subterfuge, wrap it in pathos arguments and try yo use the law to diminish individual liberties.

Marcus Traianus on May 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM

To all of you self proclaimed Constitutional Conservatives out there, where in the Constitution had the Federal govt given the authority to regulate or prohibit marihuana?

antifederalist on May 30, 2014 at 8:42 PM

Same clause that says I’m not allowed to own a machine gun.

CurtZHP on May 30, 2014 at 9:50 PM

California has a history of locking people up in mental institutions because they were an inconvenience to someone. Reagan overturned that and made it very difficult to lock somebody up. Previously, all you needed was 1 physician to agree and you could lock the person up forever. Imagine if you will what dems would do with that kind of system. They already sic the govt on you if you disagree with them.

Charm on May 30, 2014 at 10:34 PM

So no liberal will ever be able to own a gun? Works for me…

RoadRunner on May 30, 2014 at 6:59 PM

You beat me (by nearly 4 hours) to the “liberalism is a mental disorder” adage. No guns for liberals? But you just KNOW all the criminals are driving around with “Rush is Right” bumper stickers on their cars, or with disgusting social conservative messages like “Character Matters”.

LashRambo on May 30, 2014 at 10:49 PM

Hmmm, they want to pass a bill that still doesn’t address the problem and still wouldn’t have prevented this last knifing?

Makes perfect sense this bill came from DimocRats.

Every (R) that voted for it is no better than the Dims.

Meople on May 30, 2014 at 11:41 PM

Megyn Kelly reported tonight on Fox that the DOJ (Holder) has a program telling banks not to lend money to gun dealers. Most banks are complying for fear of retribution by the government. Apparently the House voted to defund this program, but I suspect Holder will get the money from somewhere. After all, Obama has a pen. If true, and I don’t think Kelly would report it if untrue, this is one of the most egregious uses of government powers we’ve seen yet from the Obama administration and Holder. Yet I haven’t heard this reported anywhere. Did I miss it?

Christian Conservative on May 30, 2014 at 11:49 PM

One such effort, the Democrats suggest, would be to empower police to seek warrants to seize firearms from those they believe might use them to harm themselves or others. …

I would like to point out how close Democrats and Police are.

Mfarmer on May 31, 2014 at 2:24 AM

“empower police to seek warrants to seize firearms from those they believe might use them to harm themselves or others”

Oh, this will end well, especially since guns are designed to inflict harm. Picture this:

You are at the range practicing with your $2000 rifle, and the guy next to you expresses interest. You show off your prize possession with pride, and he shows his admiration. Four days later, at 2:00 AM, you are awakened by a tremendous crash. In the time it takes you to wonder, “What the heck?” your bedroom door is filled with dark figures. The last thing you see is a muzzle flash as a three round burst rips open your chest.

In accordance with the warrant, your gun collection is confiscated, but your prize rifle is never found. A few days later, the nice cop who admired it so much in the first place is taking it out of its case at the range….

underdog on May 31, 2014 at 3:32 AM

Remember, there has never been a great evil done that wasn’t first disguise as a good.
The master deceivers of the left seek only to rid citizens of the means of necessary resistance to opression–the very reason our forefathers acknowledged their right (and need) to arm themselves.

Don L on May 31, 2014 at 7:33 AM

Who defines mental illness?

ladyingray on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

.
It’s a one question form: Did you vote Republican in the last election?

Grammar Nazi on May 30, 2014 at 9:28 PM

.
These two capture the point, nicely.

listens2glenn on May 31, 2014 at 8:21 AM

Megyn Kelly reported tonight on Fox that the DOJ (Holder) has a program telling banks not to lend money to gun dealers. Most banks are complying for fear of retribution by the government. Apparently the House voted to defund this program, but I suspect Holder will get the money from somewhere. After all, Obama has a pen. If true, and I don’t think Kelly would report it if untrue, this is one of the most egregious uses of government powers we’ve seen yet from the Obama administration and Holder. Yet I haven’t heard this reported anywhere. Did I miss it?

Christian Conservative on May 30, 2014 at 11:49 PM

It isn’t only them. It started out focused on payday lenders. Of course, it is whatever this administration wants.

Though spokespersons for the Department of Justice publicly denied targeting a specific industry, the report found that “[c]ontrary to the Department [of Justice]‘s public statements, Operation Choke Point was primarily focused on the payday lending industry.”

Many business executives have publicly expressed concern that the list of targeted industries has steadily expanded beyond the payday loan industry. The staff report confirmed those concerns, nothing that manufacturers, distributors, and dealers of firearms and ammunition, and coin dealers are now also being targeted by the Department of Justice.

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/05/29/House-Committee-Report-DOJ-Must-Disavow-and-Dismantle-Operation-Choke-Point

Not only are they going after our guns, they are going after the sellers just for selling weapons and ammunition. It’s a multi-pronged assault on the second amendment.

Patriot Vet on May 31, 2014 at 9:32 AM

How about a something bill that addresses required help for people with mental illnesses. If they can commit murder and be declared innocent due to mental disease or defect, then they should be required to take medication when diagnosed and held for treatment in a facility until they are stable. There are enough doctors in congress that can figure out what is needed to help these people and protect the rest of us from them.

Kissmygrits on May 31, 2014 at 9:43 AM

So what happened?

GarandFan on May 30, 2014 at 8:55 PM

They haven’t worked their way up to banning and confiscation … yet.

What people mean by this is a ban on private sales. Do I have to pay a gun store $75 to do a background check to sell a gun to my friend? The only way someone would know is if there is gun registration. What idiot thinks a criminal wanting to buy a gun is going to pay to have a background check done?

Bingo!

Alien on May 31, 2014 at 9:50 AM

expand federal background checks to include guns sold online and at gun shows

Can we please stop the lies? Both of these already require background checks. You can’t order a firearm and have it shipped to your house from Amazon – it has to go through a FFL… who will run a background check according to the law when you come to pick it up. And you do have to do a background check at gun shows … if you buy from a dealer (you know, an FFL). Just like if you went to their store.

as well as those receiving involuntary mental health services on an outpatient basis, if a court deems them dangerous

WTF? If they’re dangerous, WTH are they being seen on an outpatient basis?!? Notice the problem seems to be the f*ed up mental health system/laws, rather than the firearms background check system. Typical government answer – “fix” the wrong part of the problem.

GWB on May 31, 2014 at 10:15 AM

Yet I haven’t heard this reported anywhere. Did I miss it?

Christian Conservative on May 30, 2014 at 11:49 PM

Yes, apparently you’ve missed it. Just enter “Operation Choke Point” into your favorite search engine.

climbnjump on May 31, 2014 at 10:21 AM

Yeah, this isn’t at all a slippery slope.

Repressive regimes usually classify enemies of the state as “insane” or “mentally ill.”

Ted the Average on May 31, 2014 at 1:40 PM

Who defines mental illness?

ladyingray on May 30, 2014 at 7:00 PM

Yeah, there’s the problem.

Do I want lunatics to be allowed to legally purchase and own firearms when they’re a danger to themselves and others?

No.

Do I trust the government to not abuse their powers for political or personal reasons and use rational and reasonable limitations on what they will or will not do?

No.

Of course I’m probably one of the crazy ones.
I failed a Rorschach Test by punching the test giver.
But the guy had 50 line drawings of my mom half-naked eating ice cream; what’d you think I was going to do?

… Ok, none of that was true, but it’s one of my favorite jokes.

gekkobear on May 31, 2014 at 5:33 PM

I guess if you take this further, should alcoholics be allowed to own guns, or stoned pot users. I can think of a few more categories.

cimbri on May 31, 2014 at 8:02 PM

increase funding for the criminal background checks system by $19.5 million – raising the total funding level for the program to $78 million

Once again, spending money we don’t have on a system that does nothing to solve the problem….

greencalliope on May 31, 2014 at 8:07 PM