Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., announcing a provision to allow doctors to ban people from owning guns
The House of Representatives has fast-tracked new legislation to “improve” the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by allowing doctors to now decide who can own firearms.
The proposal, H.R. 2640, was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., in the wake of the April tragedy at Virginia Tech, when a gunman shot and killed more than 30 people, then killed himself.
McCarthy, whose own husband was killed in a random shooting on a commuter train in New York City in 1993, introduced the “NICS Improvement Act,” which sailed through the House in three days.
The plan is the first congressional effort to curtail gun ownership rights in a decade, but by being put on the fast track was exempted from the ordinary committee hearings and public scrutiny most proposals are sent through.
“Millions of criminal records are not accessible by NICS and millions others are missing critical data,” said McCarthy. “Each year, tens of thousands of barred individuals slip through the cracks of the system and gain access to firearms. Simply put, the NICS system must be updated on both the state and federal level.”
If the Act passes in the Senate, it would provide grants so states can add the names of criminals to the NICS system, which would label them as unable to own firearms, but it also flags those with medical or psychological issues as unfit to possess a gun.
The plan allows names to be entered into the NICS system based solely on a physician’s diagnosis or prescription of a medication: adults who have taken Ritalin and soldiers with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder would be classified as mentally ill and given the same opportunity to own firearms as convicted felons: None.
Gun Owners of America is one of only a few organizations alerting consumers to the implications.
“Under this bill, based solely on a diagnosis of a psychiatrist, an American’s name could be dumped into the National Criminal Instant Check (NICS) system,” said GOA Executive Director Larry Pratt, who called the plan “conviction by diagnosis.”
The organization, which launched a campaign to lobby the Senate to reject the plan, said the McCarthy plan “dramatically” expands the “dragnet” used to disqualify law-abiding gun buyers.
“So much so, that hundreds of thousands of honest citizens who want to buy a gun will one day walk into a gun store and be shocked when they’re told they’re a prohibited purchaser, having been lumped into the same category as murderers and rapists,” the organization said in a statement on its website.
The legislation requires states to better share records that would disqualify individuals deemed unfit for gun ownership by inputting those names into the FBI’s Instant Criminal Background Check System.
“This underscores the problems that have existed all along with the Brady Law. At the time it was passed, some people foolishly thought, ‘No big deal. I’m not a bad guy. This law won’t affect me.’ But what happens when good guys’ names get thrown into the bad guys’ list? That is exactly what has happened, and no one should think that the attempts to expand the gun control noose are going to end with the McCarthy bill,” the gun owners group continued.
“Speaking to the CNN audience on June 13, head of the Brady Campaign, Paul Helmke, stated that, ‘We’re hopeful that now that the NRA has come around to our point of view in terms of strengthening the Brady background checks, that now we can take the next step after this bill passes [to impose additional gun control],’” said the gun owners.
“Get it? The McCarthy bill is just a first step,” the group said.
The Act is a response to the Virginia Tech tragedy.
Tech student Seung-Hui Cho was not flagged when he purchased guns, although the state of Virginia knew Cho had been ordered to undergo mental health treatment. No evidence indicates that Cho could have been stopped from opening fire on classmates had the new changes been in place at the time of the shooting.
The National Rifle Association has endorsed the plan as a way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unstable.
Naomi Laine is an editorial assistant for WND