Monday, June 11, 2007

Update on Mental Health Background Checks

Earlier last week I posted some information on the bill in the General Assembly that was to ensure that people with dangerous mental health conditions would be added to the background check lists that prevent ineligible people from purchasing firearms.

The bill has passed both houses and is apparently just awaiting signature from the governor at this point.

Additionally some of my concerns may be addressed on the federal level. VA has an article with some good additional references on the subject about how the NRA and Democrats in Congress have worked out a compromise to allow people to clear their names from the list if they shouldn't be on it. One of the biggest concerns was the over 83,000 veterans names added to the list years back with a great deal of controversy over who was added and why.

The compromise between the NRA and the Democrats appears to have led to a mutually beneficial situation where the NRA can support a reasonable new gun control bill that would have little to no effect on legal owners and Democrats can support a reasonable new gun control bill in response to the well publicized VA Tech shooting.

I'm still concerned that without notification of being added to the list that some people may unwittingly set themselves up for prosecution when they are denied purchase of a firearm. If their name is on the list erroneously this could make the process of clearing their name off the list extremely costly and embarrassing. For others on the list appropriately they may have never been informed that prior treatment effectively ended their right to keep and bear arms and possibly face prosecution for something they didn't realize was against the law.

In light of the recent shootings here I think most people support making it more difficult for convicted felons and people with dangerous mental health problems to acquire firearms. Even those of us who know that blocking lawful purchases doesn't necessarily help prevent them from acquiring them illegally (as seen with the Benjamin Smith spree) can probably agree that making it more difficult is probably a good thing overall.

This additional federal bill will help alleviate one of main concerns about the Illinois bill, but not all of my concerns. Overall I think both bills are well intended and will overall help make it more difficult for dangerous people to acquire firearms but neither is perfect by any means, though better in combination.

1 comment:

jeff said...

This is jeff,Mental health services need to be geared towards very young children as a matter of urgency.The problems go beyond tantrums and bad behaviour and impact negatively on all aspects of an infant's life, the Institute of Psychiatry will hear.



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