The Knox Report
From the Firearms Coalition
Fear, Mistrust, and False Promises
By Jeff Knox
Gun control is all about fear, mistrust, and false promises. Typically some event or series of events, real or imagined, cause an increase in fear and mistrust of some one or some thing; criminals, terrorists, “Saturday night specials”, African-Americans, “assault weapons”, street gangs, etc. This results in supposedly well meaning politicians, media, and special interest groups calling for legislation promising to limit, restrict, control, or disarm said object of fear and mistrust.
In truth, the proposed “solutions” almost always ignore the core problems and rather than addressing any real threats, the control-mongers instead simply pile more and more restrictions onto the backs of law-abiding citizens who represent no threat at all.
The most recent, national level example of this phenomenon is the reaction to the tragic murders of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech last April. The murderer was clearly deranged – as must be anyone carrying out such a heinous act – and had been ordered to participate in an out-patient mental health treatment program. He apparently didn’t go.
Rather than address the serious – and complicated – issue of treatment of the mentally ill or some other factor which might have been effective in averting or mitigating the tragedy, lawmakers and regulators have once again focused their attention on the tools used by the criminal. Of course, tools can easily be replaced or improvised, as in the case of Julio Gonzales who, not having “easy access” to a firearm, killed 87 people in a New York social club with nothing more than a dollars worth of gasoline and a match. There is no telling what the Virginia Tech’s final tally might have been had he used gasoline or propane instead of handguns.
Virginia Governor Tim Kaine started the “false promises” ball rolling with an executive order requiring that Virginia courts report anyone ordered to participate in a mental health treatment program to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) to bar them from purchasing firearms from licensed dealers. Prior to Kaine’s order, only persons involuntarily committed to a treatment facility were reported.
Illinois upped the ante a few months later by requiring mental health facilities to report certain information about their patients to the State Police for inclusion in the state’s database of “prohibited persons.” The Illinois law further mandated the reporting of this information to NICS even though much of it does not meet the standards for inclusion in the federal database. Civil libertarians have mounted an active challenge to the new Illinois law as an infringement on the rights of mental patients to privacy for their health records.
Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley recently decided to sidestep such legal concerns by issuing an Executive Order requiring anyone wishing to purchase a firearm in his state to sign a release authorizing the State Police to examine their mental health records. State Police say this is reasonable since it is merely a way for them to verify that a prospective firearm purchaser is within the laws and is eligible to make the purchase. One must wonder if the same logic will soon be applied to voting and paying taxes. Will you be required to sign a waiver authorizing the State Police to access your mental health records and your personal bank accounts to ensure that you really live where you say, you haven’t been determined to be mentally incompetent and are eligible to vote or that you aren’t cheating on your taxes? No warrant required, simply a requirement that you abdicate your rights for the convenience of the State Police. This is particularly out of line when you recognize that Governor O’Malley is requiring firearm purchasers to surrender one right in order to exercise another.
The two things that all of these laws and regulations have in common are that they were inspired by the unpredictable acts of a seriously disturbed young man, and they will do nothing to keep the next seriously disturbed person from carrying out his seriously disturbed plans and wreaking serious havoc.
If someone is known to be too dangerous to be allowed to possess a firearm, they are too dangerous to be allowed to drive a car, purchase gasoline, or have access to knives or baseball bats; in short, such persons are too dangerous to be allowed out of a controlled environment.
Trying to keep guns out of “the wrong hands” has proven to be an abject failure. Perhaps it’s time to place more emphasis on keeping the wrong hands away from civilized society.
Permission to reprint or post this article in its entirety is hereby granted provided this credit is included. To Receive the Firearms Coalition’s bi-monthly newsletter, The Hard Corps Report, send a contribution to The Firearms Coalition, PO Box 3313, Manassas, VA 20108 or visit FirearmsCoalition.org and ShotgunNews.com ©Copyright 2007 Neal Knox Associates