We’ve heard it over and over again, particularly on shows like Morning Joe. Anyone who thinks that the government is “coming to take your guns” is a paranoid loon, watching for black helicopters and guarding their sheep from soldiers. Unfortunately for those formerly right leaning, Second Amendment minded folks who bought into this story, reality has come screaming up from behind well ahead of schedule.
Following the passage of “The SAFE Act” in New York State, Big Brother got busy pretty quickly grabbing up the guns. Of course nobody was reporting on it very much until they managed to collect them from the wrong guy and a judge made them give them back.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Thursday, a state Supreme Court Judge ruled guns seized from David Lewis, 35, must be returned to him after he was incorrectly identified as violating the mental health provision of the SAFE Act.
“We know that from the health care agency to the State Police, there was some kind of breach,” said Lewis’ attorney, Jim Tresmond.
I don’t know how much more chilling that lede could be, really. This isn’t some worry about the government possibly confiscating guns. These are guns that were already confiscated by the government. But if you think that’s as bad as it gets, guess again. Here’s why his guns were taken.
Tresmond says his client was ordered to turn in his weapons last week because he was once on anti-anxiety medication, which is a violation of the SAFE Act. Wednesday, State Police informed the Erie County Clerk’s Office that it made a mistake when it said Lewis was in violation of the state’s new gun law.
For all of our more liberal leaning readers who continue to ask “what’s so bad” about universal background checks before we’ve even seen the specifics, this is your answer. In New York, you can be placed on a “list”of people with no Second Amendment rights on the say so of any doctor who has questions. And it already happened to David Lewis. Thankfully, he’s getting his guns back… for now. But what is the larger effect of this if we put it on a national scale?
The NY SAFE Act requires “mental health professionals, in the exercise of reasonable professional judgment, to report if an individual they are treating is likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to him- or herself or others.”
If such a determination is made, “the Division of Criminal Justice Services will determine whether the person possesses a firearms license and, if so, will notify the appropriate local licensing official, who must suspend the license. The person’s firearms will then be removed.”
The law has come under fire from gun-rights advocates as well as mental health professionals, who fear the new law discourages people from seeking professional help for mental health issues.
Okay, I can see your point about the adverse effect on those seeking help for mental disorders. If you know that you’ll have your constitutional rights curtailed if you tell a doctor you are depressed or filled with anxiety, you might not go seek help. But that also sort of buries the lede here…
They’re Already Taking Away Guns From People For Having ONCE Been Prescribed ANTI-ANXIETY MEDICINE.
Doug Mataconis gives the legal beagle perspective on catching up people seeking medical help in a legal net. (Read the whole thing.)
The SAFE Act in particular seems to me to be overly broad in defining what qualifies as a reportable condition. It’s one thing for a person who is delusional on the level of a Seung-Hui Choi or Jared Loughner to be caught up in the net, it is quite another for someone who was apparently merely on an anti-anxiety drug to have their Constitutional rights limited. If taking that kind of medication is enough to get you on a list, then what about the millions upon millions of Americans who are on some form of anti-depressant or who take medication that alters their mood in any manner? Are they going to get put on a government list too, and what, exactly, is the government going to do with that list? History is replete with examples of psychiatry being abused by the state, and the danger of abuse becomes even higher when the law broadens the number of conditions that are reportable to the state.
We have thus far been unable to get anyone from New York to own up to how many people have had their guns taken away this year under the new SAFE Act. Neither has the YNN news team. But the facts in evidence are not in dispute. The law is still so new that the “new law smell” hasn’t worn off it yet but they are already going around and confiscating guns.
This new universal background check bill is the hot ticket in DC right now. You can read the full text of it here, which thus far contains nothing about expanding how one qualifies as “mentally ill” but there are multiple amendments to come, so we don’t even know what will be in the final version. A repeating theme is that it will have to “do something” about keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. But how is that to be accomplished? Will it only affect those who have been adjudicated in court to be proven, dangerous, unstable individuals and who have had the opportunity to object to their classification? Or will it be something that slides closer to what we now have in New York?
And yet… we’re all paranoid. Right, Joe Scarborough? I could insert one clip after another of the insulting, uninformed comments in the mainstream media made toward those who expressed concerns over this type of unbridled nanny state activity. But you’ve seen them all before. and there’s no use boring you with them here again now. As for me, I’ll stay in my basement, eating my Cheetos, cleaning my Glock and guarding the sheep. You never know.
UPDATE: (Jazz) From the comments. An excellent question.
Number one question for those who favor “universal background checks” – how do you enforce them?
In other words, how will authorities know if an individual who possesses a firearm submitted to a background check?
If they can answer this question without needing to resort to a database, or a registry, then I am all ears.
dugan on April 13, 2013 at 12:14 PM