From the “this can’t possibly go wrong” file: The full 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Thursday that individuals committed to mental health institutions regain their Second Amendment right when they’re released. The ruling, a 10-6 ruling, highlights a particular problem in American culture — just not the one you think it does.
Without fail, the subject of mental illness comes up whenever there’s a mass shooting. There’s this adamant rejection that people who are “psychologically healthy” can go on a killing spree, because anger and rage don’t exist in the worlds of people who believe that, apparently.
It’s a red herring, as it takes away from the bigger problem — the ease and availability of military hardware. America has a problem with mental illness, sure, but it’s tangential — perhaps even orthogonal — to the problem we have with guns. Anywhere from 11,000 to 13,000 people are going to die this year from firearms, based on evidence from years past.
Still, allowing institutionalized people access to firearms doesn’t help anyone — mostly themselves. See, suicide rates are much higher when there’s a gun in the house than when there isn’t. It isn’t rocket science, but given the willful ignorance of some people, it might as well be. Even FOX News agrees with me on this.
That’s why the court’s ruling that Clifford Taylor, 74, could acquire a firearm despite a federal law banning him from buying one is bad news. Taylor was committed in 1986 after a hostile divorce left him suicidal. He’s had no issues since, and his commitment was brief.
Based on this profile, Taylor could apply for relief from the law. Congress “defunded this program, noting that reviewing applications was a ‘very difficult and subjective task which could have devastating consequences for innocent citizens if the wrong decision is made,’” in 1992, and as a result, some states started to do what work Congress neglected and created their own systems to review requests.
The majority judges found that either the restrictions were flatly unconstitutional or constitutional only if the restriction on his right to bear arms could pass intermediate scrutiny, and that’d require the government “demonstrate a law or regulation [that] furthers an important interest by means substantially related to said interest” — that is, the government lawyers had to demonstrate that the restriction is a “reasonable fit” with the government’s interest in preventing violence or suicide, and the government lawyers couldn’t do that.
At this point, it’s unclear if the government will appeal to the Supreme Court.
What is clear, though, is that this just furthers the gun problem that this country has. Let me be crystal clear here: I’m not for stripping civil rights from people because they’re mentally ill or otherwise handicapped. I’m included in that number; I don’t want to throw anyone under the bus. What I am for is reducing the access anyone — mentally ill or not — has to dangerous weapons. You don’t have to be depressed or bipolar or schizophrenic to get caught up in your passions and do something you’ll regret because you don’t have the self-control you thought you did.
And this case does the exact opposite. What this does show, though, is the emptiness of the “mentally ill” argument that crops up every time we have a mass shooting.
After all, that the NRA and every Republican aren’t out there pushing back against this ruling, as they’re all for keeping guns out of the hands of the evil, scary, “mentally ill people,” proves what a red herring the whole “mentally ill” argument is.
Feature image via the Daily Caller