The legislation would allow a person’s right to own a gun in the U.S. to be permanently removed under a wide range of circumstances.
“You’d think that when rabid, anti-gun legislators like Sen. Charles Schumer and Rep. Carolyn McCarthy join together to pass anti-gun legislation, it would raise a few red flags,” the alert says. “But these two New York Democrats are currently planning to roll over gun owners with H.R. 2640 – legislation which would bar you from owning guns if: You are a battle-scarred veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; or as a kid, you were diagnosed with ADHD.”
Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., announcing a provision to allow doctors to ban people from owning guns
Gun Owners Executive Director Larry Pratt told WND that those are just two of the circumstances that legitimately could be used under the pending proposal to permanently remove an individual’s right to own a weapon in the U.S.
Someone in counseling during a bitter divorce, a child who at one point gets into a scrape on a school yard and is put on Ritalin, or even someone given “counseling” for issues such as depression during recovery from an accident or work-related injury are some other situations that could trigger such “disarmament by diagnosis,” he said.
The plan, described in Congress as an expansion of the Brady Gun Bill that requires background checks for potential firearms purchasers, would require people who have such a diagnosis in their health record to be permanently banned from owning a gun.
As WND reported, H.R. 2640 was launched by McCarthy in the wake of the April shooting at Virginia Tech, when a gunman shot and killed more than 30 people then killed himself. The gunman previously had been ordered by a court to have a psychiatric evaluation and should have been prevented from purchasing a gun under existing laws, but apparently the gun seller didn’t know that.
The plan would provide access to a multitude of medical records repositories for authorities to compile lists of people who have had such a diagnosis.
Pratt told WND Schumer is pushing hard for a consent “agreement” in the Senate so that the plan could be approved without further discussion and sent to President Bush.
“This agreement is extremely diabolical, as it would eliminate the ability of pro-gun senators to offer amendments which would clean up the legislation … and would grease the skids for immediate passage!” the alert said.
The concerns expressed by Pratt, whose organization represents more than 300,000 Americans, were echoed by U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas congressman seeking the GOP nomination for president.
“In my opinion, H.R. 2640 is a flagrantly unconstitutional expansion of restriction on the exercise of the right to bear arms protected under the Second Amendment,” he said. “H.R. 2640 also seriously undermines the privacy rights of all Americans – gun owners and non-gun owners alike – by creating and expanding massive federal government databases, including medical and other private records of every American.”
He noted the new information that would be submitted to a federal database would come from medical, psychological and drug treatment records that traditionally have been considered protected from disclosure under the physician-patient relationship.
“We should not trick ourselves into believing that we can pick and choose which part of the Bill of Rights we support,” he said.
The National Rifle Association has not expressed such a high level of concern yet. Wayne LaPierre, the group’s executive vice president, has said the Virginia Tech killer absolutely should have been barred from buying a gun under federal laws that already exist.
He said such records as a 2005 court order directing the gunman to get a psychiatric evaluation should be in an FBI database used for those background checks.
“Our position on this is crystal clear: If you are adjudicated by a court to be mentally defective, suicidal, a danger to yourself or to others, you should be prohibited from buying a firearm,” he has said.
The GOA has no difficulty with someone being formally “adjudicated” by a court. But Mike Hammond, the organization’s legislative counsel, said the issue is that the expansion allows others to make such a decision.
It opens those who can make that determination – on someone else’s competency – to a “court, board, commission, or other lawful authority.”
That, he concluded in an analysis, could be a school psychologist, a psychiatrist commissioned by Medicare to evaluate seniors for Alzheimer’s, a Veteran’s Administration psychiatrist or a psychologist who for any reason involuntarily commits a patient “with no due process at all.”
The GOA cited a recent Pennsylvania case to illustrate the dangers that would be presented.
It was an apparent “offhanded, tongue-in-cheek remark” made by Horatio Miller that got the case started. He allegedly said it could be “worse than Virginia Tech” if someone broke into his car, because of the guns there.
“It is not clear whether he was making a threat against a person who might burglarize his car, or if he was simply saying that the bad guy could do a lot of damage because of the guns he would find there,” the GOA said.
Miller, with no criminal record and the holder of a concealed carry permit who had passed rigorous background checks, was ordered never to own or possess a gun again.
“I contacted the sheriff and had his license to carry a firearm revoked. And I asked police to commit him under Section 302 of the mental health procedures act and that was done. He is now ineligible to possess firearms [for life] because he was committed involuntarily,” the district attorney reported.
“The comment Miller made was certainly not the smartest thing to say,” said the GOA. “But realize, we don’t incarcerate people for making stupid statements in this country – at least not yet.”
The plan also would provide more than a billion dollars to computerize mental health and medical records for installation in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The Military Order of the Purple Heart, representing those among the bravest of the nation’s military who have been injured in defense of their nation, said the plan “would statutorily impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans.”
“The Pennsylvania case shows how all gun owners could be threatened by H.R. 2640,” said the GAO. “After all, did you ever tell anyone that the Second Amendment was included in the Bill of Rights because the Founders (such as James Madison) wanted the people to be able to overturn a tyrannical American government?
“Or, while you were watching the nightly news – and getting a detailed account of all the crime in your area – did you ever make a statement such as, ‘If someone were to break through my door, I’d blow him away!'”
The conclusion? “Those kinds of statements will certainly make anti-gun nuts think you’re a potential danger to yourself or others. So if you make the local district attorney or police officer nervous, how difficult would it be for him to get a psychiatrist (most of whom are very left-wing) to say that you are a danger to yourself and to others?” the GOA said.
Pratt noted the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives already had instituted regulations that define a danger perceived by someone else as “any danger.”
Pratt told WND the movement through Congress also is as alarming as the substance of the bill. He said the House voted at 8 in the morning to approve the bill, but left no recorded vote. Now a supporter is trying to exempt the plan from ordinary discussion and debate in the Senate.
“We have a letter from a retired judge in Wyoming, talking about some friends of his. They see a counselor occasionally [because of their service in Vietnam.] They’ve all got concealed carry permits. They’re going to be toast,” he said.
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