06/07 McCarthy Bill Moves To The Senate
— “Compromise” bill represents the most far-reaching gun ban in years
The Associated Press got it right last week when it stated that, “The House Wednesday passed what could become the first major federal gun control law in over a decade.”
It’s true. The McCarthy bill that passed will DRAMATICALLY expand the dragnet that is currently 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.
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 (HR 2640).
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].”
Get it? The McCarthy bill is just a first step.
The remainder of this alert will explain, in layman’s terms, the problems with what passed on Wednesday. Please understand that GOA’s legal department has spent hours analyzing the McCarthy bill, in addition to looking at existing federal regulations and BATFE interpretations. (If you want the lawyerly perspective, then please go to Problems With The New Federal Gun Control (HR 2640) for an extensive analysis.)
So what does HR 2640 do? Well, as stated already, this is one of the most far-reaching gun bans in years. For the first time in history, this bill takes a giant step towards banning one-fourth of returning military veterans from ever owning a gun again.
In 2000, President Clinton added between 80,000 – 90,000 names of military veterans — who were suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) — into the NICS background check system. These were vets who were having nightmares; they had the shakes. So Clinton disqualified them from buying or owning guns.
For seven years, GOA has been arguing that what Clinton did was illegitimate. But if this McCarthy bill gets enacted into law, a future Hillary Clinton administration would actually have the law on her side to ban a quarter of all military veterans (that’s the number of veterans who have Post Traumatic Stress) from owning guns.
Now, the supporters of the McCarthy bill claim that military veterans — who have been denied their Second Amendment rights — could get their rights restored. But this is a very nebulous promise.
The reason is that Section 101(c)(1)(C) of the bill provides explicitly that a psychiatrist or psychologist diagnosis is enough to ban a person for ever owning a gun as long as it’s predicated on a microscopic risk that a person could be a danger to himself or others. (Please be sure to read the NOTE below for more details on this.)
How many psychiatrists are going to deny that a veteran suffering from PTS doesn’t possess a MICROSCOPIC RISK that he could be a danger to himself or others?
And even if they can clear the psychiatrist hurdle, we’re still looking at thousands of dollars for lawyers, court fees, etc. And then, when veterans have done everything they can possibly do to clear their name, there is still the Schumer amendment in federal law which prevents the BATFE from restoring the rights of individuals who are barred from purchasing firearms. If that amendment is not repealed, then it doesn’t matter if your state stops sending your name for inclusion in the FBI’s NICS system… you are still going to be a disqualified purchaser when you try to buy a gun.
So get the irony. Senator Schumer is the one who is leading the charge in the Senate to pass the McCarthy bill, and he is “generously” offering military veterans the opportunity to clear their names, even though it’s been HIS AMENDMENT that has prevented honest gun owners from getting their rights back under a similar procedure created in 1986!
But there’s still another irony. Before this bill, it was very debatable (in legal terms) whether the military vets with PTS should have been added into the NICS system… and yet many of them were — even though there was NO statutory authority to do so. Before this bill, there were provisions in the law to get one’s name cleared, and yet Schumer made it impossible for these military vets to do so.
Now, the McCarthy bill (combined with federal regulations) makes it unmistakably clear that military vets with Post Traumatic Stress SHOULD BE ADDED as prohibited persons on the basis of a “diagnosis.” Are these vets now going to find it any easier to get their names cleared (when the law says they should be on the list) if they were finding it difficult to do so before (when the law said they shouldn’t)?
Add to this the Schumer amendment (mentioned above). The McCarthy bill does nothing to repeal the Schumer amendment, which means that military veterans with PTS are going to find it impossible to get their rights restored!
Do you see how Congress is slowly (and quietly) sweeping more and more innocent people into the same category as murderers and rapists? First, anti-gun politicians get a toe hold by getting innocuous sounding language into the federal code. Then they come back years later to twist those words into the most contorted way possible.
Consider the facts. In 1968, Congress laid out several criteria for banning Americans from owning guns — a person can’t be a felon, a drug user, an illegal alien, etc. Well, one of the criteria which will disqualify you from owning or buying a gun is if you are “adjudicated as a mental defective.” Now, in 1968, that term referred to a person who was judged not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity.
Well, that was 1968. By 2000, President Bill Clinton had stretched that definition to mean a military veteran who has had a lawful authority (like a shrink) decree that a person has PTS. Can you see how politicians love to stretch the meaning of words in the law… especially when it comes to banning guns?
After all, who would have thought when the original Brady law was passed in 1993, that it would be used to keep people with outstanding traffic tickets from buying guns; or couples with marriage problems from buying guns; or military vets with nightmares from buying guns? (See footnotes below.)
So if you thought the Brady Law would never affect you because you’re a “good guy,” then think again. Military vets are in trouble, and so are your kids who are battling Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). Everything that has been mentioned above regarding military veterans, could also apply to these kids.
Do you have a child in the IDEA program — a.k.a., Individuals with Disability Education Act — who has been diagnosed with ADD and thought to be susceptible to playground fights? Guess what? That child can be banned for life from ever owning a gun as an adult. The key to understanding this new gun ban expansion centers on a shrink’s determination that a person is a risk to himself or others.
You see, legislators claim they want to specifically prevent a future Seung-Hui Cho from ever buying a gun and shooting up a school. And since Cho had been deemed as a potential danger to himself or others, that has become the new standard for banning guns.
But realize what this does. In the name of stopping an infinitesimal fraction of potential bad apples from owning firearms, legislators are expanding the dragnet to sweep ALL KINDS of good guys into a permanent ban. It also ignores the fact that bad guys get illegal guns ALL THE TIME, despite the gun laws!
So back to your kid who might have ADD. The BATFE, in an open letter (dated May 9, 2007), said the diagnosis that a person is a potential risk doesn’t have to be based on the fact that the person poses a “substantial” risk. It just has to be “ANY” risk.
Just any risk, no matter how slight to the other kids on the playground, is all that is needed to qualify the kid on Ritalin — or a vet suffering PTS, or a husband (going through a divorce) who’s been ordered to go through an anger management program, etc. — for a LIFETIME gun ban.
This is the slippery slope that gun control poses. And this is the reason HR 2640 must be defeated. Even as we debate this bill, the Frank Lautenbergs in Congress are trying to expand the NICS system with the names of people who are on a so-called “government watch list” (S. 1237).
While this “government watch list” supposedly applies to suspected terrorists, the fact is that government bureaucrats can add ANY gun owner’s name to this list without due process, without any hearing, or trial by jury, etc. That’s where the background check system is headed… if we don’t rise up together and cut off the monster’s head right now.
NOTE: Please realize that a cursory reading of this bill is not sufficient to grasp the full threat that it poses. To read this bill properly, you have to not only read it thoroughly, but look at federal regulations and BATF interpretations as well. For example, where we cite Section 101(c)(1)(C) above as making it explicitly clear that the diagnosis from a psychologist or psychiatrist is enough to ban a person from owning a gun, realize that you have to look at Section 101, while also going to federal regulations via Section 3 of the bill.
Section 3(2) of the bill states that every interpretation that the BATFE has made in respect to mental capacity would become statutory law. And so what does the federal code say? Well, at 27 CFR 478.11, it explicitly states that a person can be deemed to be “adjudicated as a mental defective” by a court or by any “OTHER LAWFUL AUTHORITY” (like a shrink), as long as the individual poses a risk to self or others (or can’t manage his own affairs). And in its open letter of May 9, 2007, BATFE makes it clear that this “danger” doesn’t have to be “imminent” or “substantial,” but can include “any danger” at all. How many shrinks are going to say that a veteran suffering from PTS doesn’t pose at least an infinitesimal risk of hurting someone else?
(1) The Brady law has been used to illegitimately deny firearms to people who have outstanding traffic tickets (see pdf copy of US General Accounting Office Report).
(2) Because of the Lautenberg gun ban, couples with marriage problems or parents who have used corporal punishment to discipline their children have been prohibited from owning guns for life (see The Gun Owners, June, 1998).
CONTACT INFORMATION: You can visit the Gun Owners Legislative Action Center to send your Senators the pre-written e-mail message below.
—– Pre-written letter —–
As a supporter of Second Amendment rights, I do NOT support the so-called NICS Improvement Amendments Act (HR 2640), which was snuck through the House last week.
This bill represents the most far-reaching gun ban in years. For the first time in American history, this bill would impose a lifetime gun ban on battle-scarred veterans and troubled teens — based solely on the diagnosis of a psychologist (as opposed to a finding by a court).
You can read more about the problems with this bill by going to the website of Gun Owners of America at http://www.gunowners.org/netb.htm.
Gun owners OPPOSE this legislation, and I hope you will join the handful of Senators that have placed “holds” on this bill and object to any Unanimous Consent agreement.
Supporters of this bill say we need it to stop future Seung-Hui Chos from getting a gun and to prevent our nation from seeing another shooting like the one at Virginia Tech. But honestly, what gun law has stopped bad guys from getting a gun? Not in Canada, where they recently had a school shooting. Certainly not in Washington, DC or in England!
If you want to know some language that gun owners would support, then consider this:
“The Brady Law shall be null and void unless, prior to six months following the date of enactment of this Act, every name of a veteran forwarded to the national instant criminal background check system by the Veterans Administration or the Department of Veterans Affairs be permanently removed from that system.”