Proposed background check bill draws support from NRA, mental health advocates
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) on August 5 proposed a bill that he said would make the federal background check system for gun buyers more effective and bolster programs for treating people with mental illness.
The bill, called the ‘Mental Health and Safe Communities Act,’ will “enhance the ability of local communities to identify and treat potentially dangerous, mentally-ill individuals,” Cornyn said in a statement announcing its introduction.
Cornyn, the Senate Whip — the second-ranking Republican in the Senate — said that past proposed background bills have been designed by the gun control lobby to “drive a political wedge” between common sense and reality, noting his proposal is aimed at helping people with mental health issues and to “hopefully pre-empt them from committing an act of violence.”
The bill’s background check provisions are weaker than those within the Manchin-Toomey compromise bill that was shot down in the Senate two years ago. That bill would have required the checks for firearms bought at gun shows and online. This one does not.
The proposed ‘Mental Health and Safe Communities Act’ drew immediate support from the National Rifle Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which advocates for mentally ill people, and groups representing police organizations, correctional workers and social workers.
The proposal drew criticism from the irrelevant Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the Bloombergian-financed ‘Everytown For Gun Safety’ because it doesn’t go far enough. The Brady Bunch issued a statement saying it would make it easier for some unstable people to obtain deadly weapons.
People who have been legally ruled “mentally defective” or been committed to mental institutions are already barred from buying firearms. But states are not required to send those records to the FBI-run federal database, leaving it uneven.
Under Cornyn’s bill, states sending at least 90 percent of their records on people with serious mental problems to the federal background check database would get law enforcement grant increases of up to 5 percent.
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CONCEALED CARRY EXPANDED
Tennessee AG: State law may allow fans to bring guns to sporting events
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has issued an interpretation of state law that may allow fans to bring personal firearms into professional sporting events.
Slatery told The Tennessean on Aug. 4 that, in his opinion, state law prevents municipalities from banning guns or allowing third parties within their jurisdiction from doing so.
Earlier this year, Tennessee state legislators passed a law allowing gun-owners with a valid concealed carry permit to take their weapon to a public park, overruling any local laws that banned guns in parks.
“By its plain terms, as amended, (the law) applies to all parks and all other recreational facilities that are owned or operated by a county or municipality. County or municipal ownership is all that is needed to bring the property within the scope of the statute,” Slatery wrote in his opinion.
Nissan Stadium, Bridgestone Arena and the FedEx Forum, homes of the Titans, Predators and Grizzlies, respectively, are all county or municipality owned facilities operated by third parties.
Attorney Junaid Odubeko told The Tennessean that Slatery’s interpretation of the law seems to leave room for permit-holders to bring guns into these venues, even if the leagues or teams ban guns.
“If they had a policy saying that you could not have a handgun inside Nissan Stadium, I think there certainly appears to be a conflict there between that hypothetical policy and how the AG interprets the law,” Odubeko told The Tennessean. “There certainly appears to be a conflict.”
The interpretation follows the July 16 murders of four Marines and one sailor in a Chattanooga shooting and the Aug. 5th incident in a Nashville-area movie theater in which a gunman died after bringing weapons into a movie theater.
The interpretation was lauded by state Rep. Tilman Goins (R-Morristown), whip told The Tennessean on Aug. 5 that the law should help Tennesseans to protect themselves. “I honestly think if evil is in a person’s heart, I don’t think gun legislation is necessarily going to alter or help or hurt,” he said. “I do think people being allowed to defend themselves without restrictive gun legislation does help keep the body count down in some situations.”
Goins said the movie theater assailant ad the intent to harm people, and that would not have changed if there had been more gun restrictions in place at the theater or in the state. “That theater probably had a no-hatchet policy as well,” Goins told The Tennessean. “The best thing lawmakers can do is free people up to defend themselves in the state.”
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New Alabama law will limit gun purchases by mentally ill
A new Alabama law that takes effect Sept. 1 requires county probate judges to report to law enforcement every person who has been involuntarily committed for a mental health evaluation. That information will then be forwarded to the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency, which in turn will forwards the information to a national FBI database.
Previously, Alabama probate judges were only required to forward information about involuntary commitments to law enforcement if the judge determined there was evidence to conclude there had been inappropriate use of weapons. Now, all involuntary inpatient commitments will be reported to law enforcement.
“This is a pretty significant change,” Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport told the Dothan Eagle on Aug. 5.
Davenport said he conducts several hundred commitment hearings per year. Some lead to involuntary commitments. Under the most recent requirement, only a handful of commitments were reported to law enforcement.
The idea behind the law, passed during the recent regular legislative session and sponsored by Tuscaloosa Democrat Chris England, is that background checks will become more effective and could short circuit an attempt by a mentally unstable person to buy and use a gun.
Houston County Sheriff Don Valenza told the Dothan Eagle that the law could have some benefit, but added, in general, additional gun laws are not the answer. I understand the reasoning behind this,” Valenza said. “Of course, in my opinion, there are no absolutes when it comes to stopping gun violence. It is better to be preventative than reactive. I am a big supporter of gun ownership rights. I think everyone ought to have a gun that is legally free to own one.”
Anyone denied the right to purchase a gun as a result of the new law can appeal the decision to district court, and present evidence and witnesses at a hearing.
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THE LIE THAT WON’T DIE
The 40-percent rule: ‘Believing’ and ‘feeling’ is more important than ‘knowing’ and ‘thinking’
We live in a time defined by partisan ideology. It is more important to “believe” something is true and “feel” that it is right than it is to “know” what is true and “think” about what is right.
“Believing” and “feeling” are not the same as “knowing” and “thinking.” But “believing” and “feeling” is what dominates the ideological fiddlefest that passes for political discourse today, and both the Right and the Left are equally guilty.
That being said, there is no more ideologically driven cabal of “believers” and “feelers” than the anti-gun lobby, where zealotry takes flights of fantasy in breezy bubbles that continue to blow in the wind no matter how many times they get burst by reality.
Take, for instance, the continuously cited belief that 40 percent of gun sales do not go through a federal background check, a decades-old lie that has been debunked repeatedly because it gets reincarnated as make-believe fact by ideologues who feel it is true.
This belief stems from a 1997 study by the U.S. National Institute of Justice that looked at gun owners’ responses to a 1994 national survey that asked them how they acquired their weapons. The study’s authors themselves debunked the conclusion that 35-36 percent of gun purchases do not go through a federal background check because, they admitted, the methodology and data were skewered. They estimated the actual percentage of gun purchases that don’t go throughout the NCIS check to be about 14 percent.
According to the National Rifle Association, which has spent nearly two decades debunking this belief, media outlets including the Richmond Times-Dispatch and The Washington Post have concluded the 40-percent claim to be false. In fact, according to the NRA, The Washington Post gave the claim “a 3 out of 4 Pinocchios” rating for being way off target.
So, it is a known fact that this claim is untrue. But, if you “believe” in something other than a known fact, you can “feel” that what you “believe” is true no matter what, regardless of trivial things such as facts.
This is how frauds fronts such as Mayors Against Illegal Guns operate when they recycle this rehashed belief in “fact sheets,” and how a “belief” get accepted as true by those who “feel” it is right.
This is how Sen. Tim Kaine (R-Va.) was “feeling” when he said on April 16th that, “It’s estimated that 40 percent of all the guns that are sold in the United States occur with no background records check.”
This is how President Barack Obama was “feeling” when he said in a Jan. 16, 2013 speech on gun violence that “as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.”
This is how Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) was “feeling” when she said during a Jan. 24, 2013, interview on MSNBC, that, “Today, about 40 percent of guns are purchased without a background check.”
“Believing” and “feeling” are not the same as “knowing” and “thinking.” But, when it comes to zealotry, if you repeat a belief long enough to those who feel it to be true, knowing the facts and thinking about what is right and what is wrong really doesn’t matter.
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