The Bar Is Being Lowered!

The Bar is Being Lowered

It's up to you to hold it up!

Take action now. Write to your Governor and the Attorney General and then write to your Senators and Representative. Forward this alert to every gun rights activist and organization you know then send it on to veterans and veterans' organizations because they are among the most severely impacted. The national gun and veterans' organizations and most of the state groups have either completely missed or conceded this issue. Only your immediate action can stop the momentum of this steamroller.

I would have written a shorter letter, but I didn't have time.


As we warned in the last FC-Alert, the standard for revoking gun rights is being lowered by Governors and Attorneys General around the country.

Over the past few months activists have been arguing about NRA support for, and GOA opposition to, Carolyn McCarthy’s bill to throw another Billion Dollars at the NICS “Instant Check” system and require more mental health and domestic violence reporting from the states. This is the fourth or fifth year in a row that McCarthy has introduced this exact bill and each time, NRA has quietly supported it while GOA has noisily opposed it. The Virginia Tech murders simply drew more attention to the argument this year, raising activists' ire.

While activists have been thus diverted, ATF has been actively lobbying Attorneys General and Governors to repeal the gun rights of millions of Americans. Anyone who has ever needed help dealing with depression, drug or alcohol issues, post traumatic stress disorder, or other mental problems is at risk of retroactively losing their right to own a firearm FOREVER!

The Gun Control Act of 1968 says that anyone "adjudicated mentally defective" may not own a gun. GCA '68 broadly defines this to mean anyone "involuntarily committed" by a court or other legal authority. The word "committed" has heretofore been interpreted to mean "institutionalized" – locked up in a facility with barred windows, padded walls, and Nurse Ratched. But after the murders at Virginia Tech, ATF is saying that anyone ordered by a court or other authority to participate in any mental health program should be included. That would include

* Anyone who has been ordered to attend therapy sessions because the judge thought they were a suicide risk.

* Anyone required to regularly visit a VA hospital for treatment because they came back from war with nightmares.

* Anyone the VA says is not "competent" to manage their own benefits check.

* Anyone who has been ordered by a judge to participate in a treatment program because they might be "a danger to themselves or others" (which is pretty much the only way a judge can order a person to get any medical treatment.)

It could include anyone ordered to participate in an “anger management” program or a dependency program after an alcohol related traffic ticket. Or a police officer who was ordered into a counseling program. (California Highway Patrol has a substantially higher suicide rate than any other police agency in the country and police have a higher suicide rate than the general public. Is the threat of losing their job and their right to own firearms likely to encourage them to seek help?)

All this because Cho Seung-Hui, the Virginia Tech murderer, had been ordered to participate in an outpatient mental health program, and that order did not meet the standard for prohibiting him from purchasing a firearm.

The next logical “loophole” is people who have been voluntarily committed. The government has a clear policy of “once crazy – always crazy” and provides no means for someone denied their gun rights for mental health reasons to ever regain those rights. Why, then would they stop at only those who are committed against their will? Who is crazier, someone who wants to go to the “funny farm” or someone who must be forced to go?

After that comes those treated for depression; since virtually all mass murderers in modern history were taking Prozac or some similar anti-depressant drug, how long can it be until ATF decides that anyone who has ever been prescribed an anti-depressant is “mentally defective" and should also retroactively lose their gun rights.

What's next? How long before the inclusion of anyone who has ever received outpatient treatment or counseling for depression? Therapy? Psychoanalysis? Marriage counseling?!?

The gun rights community seems to be standing aside as the government shreds an Enumerated Constitutional Right.

We must stand up and demand that they stop this abuse and unilateral expansion of their authority over law-abiding citizens.

Write to your Governor and your Attorney General today. Tell them that:

* Mental health is much too complicated an issue to be painted with one broad brush. It is unconscionable that Constitutional Rights would be permanently denied for what are often brief periods of personal challenge.

* ATF is trying to solve a rare and statistically insignificant (though potentially tragic) problem by asking you to declare millions of people as permanently and irreparably impaired.

* By choosing to own a gun a citizen does not surrender protection from medical privacy laws.

Remind your attorney general and legislators that once a person’s name has been added to the federal NICS prohibited persons database for mental health reasons, it is virtually impossible for them to ever have their name removed. People who suffered from brief problems in their youth, but have lived normal, productive lives for years – including safe and lawful firearms ownership – would suddenly be stripped of their Constitutional Right to arms forever at the stroke of a key. Even violent felons have ways to regain their gun rights, but "mental defficients"do not.

Urge your attorney general and state legislators to place justice over a false sense of security. No one should have their name submitted to the NICS database unless they present a true, serious, and permanent threat to themselves and the public. The standard ATF is calling for to judge that threat is over-broad and intentionally vague. Urge them to refuse to lower the standards of your state to such a simplistic and unjust level.

Take action now. Write to your Governor and the Attorney General and then write to your Senators and Representative. Forward this alert to every gun rights activist and organization you know then send it on to veterans and veterans' organizations because they are among the most severely impacted. The national gun and veterans' organizations and most of the state groups have either completely missed or conceded this issue. Only your immediate action can stop the momentum of this steamroller.

Rights are not reserved only for those who have unblemished health records. The whole reason we have a republic rather than a true democracy is that democracy tends to trample the rights of minorities. Elected representatives are supposed to be above the mob mentality that can grip a population and intervene when government oversteps its authority. It is up to you and me to make noise for the minority until our representatives take appropriate action.

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Yours for the Second Amendment,

Jeff
Jeff Knox
Director of Operations
The Firearms Coalition