April 21st, 2007 08:22 PM
Dingell, NRA Working on a Bill to...
...Strengthen Background checks...
Dingell, NRA Working on Bill to Strengthen Background Checks
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, April 20, 2007; A10
With the Virginia Tech shootings resurrecting calls for tighter gun controls, the National Rifle Association has begun negotiations with senior Democrats over legislation to bolster the national background-check system and potentially block gun purchases by the mentally ill.
Rep. John D. Dingell (Mich.), a gun-rights Democrat who once served on the NRA's board of directors, is leading talks with the powerful gun lobby in hopes of producing a deal by early next week, Democratic aides and lawmakers said.
Under the bill, states would be given money to help them supply the federal government with information on mental-illness adjudications and other run-ins with the law that are supposed to disqualify individuals from firearms purchases. For the first time, states would face penalties for not keeping the National Instant Criminal Background Check System current.
The legislation, drafted several years ago by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), has twice passed the House, only to die in the Senate. But Cho Seung Hui's rampage Monday has given it new life.
Since 1968, individuals deemed mentally ill by the legal system are not supposed to be able to buy guns. A court's ordering Cho into treatment in late 2005 should have been reported to the federal background check system, congressional aides said. Instead, his background check came up clean, and he legally bought the two handguns used to kill 32 students and teachers before he committed suicide.
"The states are not putting records into the system," McCarthy said yesterday.
The measure could be the first gun control law to pass Congress since enactment of the now-lapsed assault weapons ban 13 years ago. But, McCarthy said, the deaths at Virginia Tech are not enough to propel the bill to passage. That is why the NRA is being brought into the process.
Multiple gun control measures were introduced after the Columbine High School shootings eight years ago, but the NRA helped thwart them all, then helped defeat Vice President Al Gore's 2000 bid for the White House. With that in mind, Democratic leaders are anxious to bring the NRA aboard as they try to respond to this week's shootings.
The gun lobby stayed relatively neutral during past efforts to pass the measure, but this time Dingell is pushing for an endorsement, or even for the NRA to make it a "key vote" for its supporters.
McCarthy, whose husband was killed during a gunman's rampage on the Long Island Rail Road, admits her crusades for far more stringent gun control measures have made her toxic in gun circles.
So Dingell is handling negotiations with the NRA, said an aide participating in those talks. Dingell is also in talks with Sens. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), House Minority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) and Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (Wis.), the senior Republican on the House Judiciary Committee.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has asked Dingell to broker a deal by Tuesday. But the aide said Dingell and NRA negotiators are skeptical they can reach an accord that quickly.
"We'd rather get a good bill than a quick bill," he said.
But pitfalls remain. The NRA must balance its desire to respond to the worst mass shooting by a lone gunman in the nation's history with its competition with the more strident Gun Owners of America, which opposes any restrictions on gun purchases.
An NRA lobbyist said last night that the group would not comment on the effort.
Someone wiser than I please analyze and discuss this.
April 21st, 2007 09:10 PM
My only worry is to tighten up what and who defines mental illness.
You have to make the shot when fire is smoking, people are screaming, dogs are barking, kids are crying and sirens are coming.
Ego will kill you. Leave it at home.
April 21st, 2007 09:36 PM
A good bill could help nerves frayed on both sides of the issue. I hope they can broker a bill that both sides can call a victory.
I don't want to see any new bills or limitations, but making it difficult for the mentally ill (a matter of definition, obviously) to legally acquire handguns or long guns could go a long ways for everyone.
That might well take some of the wind out of the sails on the other side.
April 21st, 2007 09:44 PM
Indeed, the definitions would be critical. I would not want someone who had suffered a spell of simple depression who was then 100% once more, to be lambasted afterwards and for evermore.
The idea is good in principle but could so easily be less than fair. I am not sure if anyone could broker a perfect solution. Much food for thought.
Chris - P95
NRA Certified Instructor & NRA Life Member.
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April 21st, 2007 09:58 PM
I know I'll probably catch flak for this, but I'm completely for background checks. They saved an ex-girlfriend's life once when her ex came to town to try something. Limiting the mentally ill is a good step... but much like the other respondants... I'm pretty concerned as to what the definition of a mental handicap might be. It wouldn't be far off for some jerk legislator to say "someone who passionately believe in something"...
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"It is enough to note, as we have observed, that the American people have considered the handgun to be the quintessential self-defense weapon." - Justice Scalia, SCOTUS - DC v Heller - 26 JUN 2008
April 21st, 2007 10:41 PM
I know I'll probably catch flak for this, but I'm completely against background checks.
I've got a real problem with the "state" certifying me as OK to get a gun permit. Basically, they are telling me that until I am cleared as innocent enough to buy a gun, that I am guilty until proven otherwise.
Background checks dont mean SQUAT. We have recent proof of it. A guy that was obviously wacko passed the background check because it is not against the law to be wacko. The fact that YOU passed a background check will not deter you or anyone else from committing a crime.
In the big scheme of things, thats all it is a scheme. A money making scheme for the FBI. Whats wrong with this picture? The Federal Government MANDATES background checks to exercise a second amendment right yet requires YOU to pay for it. That is wrong
any way you look at it.
Already there are bills being written up to "tighten" up the background check. I'd be willing to bet that it will do little to deter anything and fact of the matter is....a law is a limitation of your and my freedom, and once that freedom is gone we'll never get it back.
By allowing background checks as a matter of routine, we've deluded ourselves in to thinking that it is a necessary thing to be safe, when in fact all we are doing is yielding more of our freedom to a Federal Government that would be willing to take every bit of freedom that we give them without a fight and with a smile.
And it aint right...
I would rather stand against the cannons of the wicked than against the prayers of the righteous.
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April 22nd, 2007 01:12 AM
The problem is, there really ARE some people who shouldn't be allowed access to firearms. There really are people who have lost their right to, among other things, own firearms... and rightfully so.
How to balance that with the average normal person's right, and IMO need, to have access to firearms for self defense is THE problem.
As has often been mentioned before a Constitutional right can be regulated, so this isn't a Constitutional issue... but one does wonder where the slippery slope ends. Mental illness and violent felony convictions ARE sufficient reason for a person to lose their right to bear arms IMO, but how do we check for that without allowing other things to be added later; religion, sexual preference, political affiliation??
"I am a Soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." GEN George S. Patton, Jr.
April 22nd, 2007 03:26 AM
They already call us 'gun nuts'... Yes, they would say that we are crazy because of how deeply we feel about our RKBA.
Originally Posted by SixBravo
HotGuns - agreed.
And, thus, it has become a Constitutional 'privilege'.
Originally Posted by tanksoldier
April 22nd, 2007 03:33 AM
Free speech is regulated, you can't libel or slander someone. The right to peaceably assemble is regulated, you usually need a demonstration or parade permit. Freedom of religion is regulated, virgin sacrifice is right out.
Originally Posted by Muzz
"I am a Soldier. I fight where I am told, and I win where I fight." GEN George S. Patton, Jr.
April 22nd, 2007 04:25 AM
I was surprised that his judge ordered commitment to a psych hospital wasn't reported connected to the NCIC. (Yes, I know about HIPPA.)
There is part of me that even thinking this makes me feel like I'm being an elitest, but Tanksoldier is right there are some people that shouldn't have any weapon (from paper clips on up to nukes.) I know this is off topic, but shouldn't the anti's be more worried if Aber..., you know the Iranian President gets a nuke? Sorry just a random thought
This is going to be a tightrope to walk because no matter what the anti's aren't going to like anything short of total confiscation, and we are going to get grumpy if they are half way successful on reinstitution the "AWB"
Another thing wouldn't it make more sense to re-write HIPPA?
Last edited by Dakotaranger; April 22nd, 2007 at 06:43 AM.
"[T]he people are not to be disarmed of their weapons.
They are left in full possession of them."
Zacharia Johnson (speech in the Virginia Ratifying Convention,25 June 1778)"The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed."
April 22nd, 2007 10:13 AM
Does anyone really think that tighter background checks will keep firearms out of the hands of people that really want them? Cmon, almost all gun crimes are already committed with illegally owned firearms.
...He suggested that "every American citizen" should own a rifle and train with it on firing ranges "at every courthouse." -Chesty Puller
April 22nd, 2007 12:11 PM
Funny though that they very people that will raise civil liberty questions and fight about background checks will be the same opposed to gun ownership.
April 22nd, 2007 07:05 PM
I think they are going to probably limit it to commitments to mental health facilities. This makes sense to me. They should have a provision allowing appeals of denials. The applicant can then be given due process.
April 22nd, 2007 07:51 PM
The statutory bases for determination of mental instability or illness ("incompetence" for lack of a brief description) are present in all 50 states, as well as the federal code, and well developed in the judiciary as well.
IMHO, anyone that argues against keeping guns out of the hands of the "incompetent" risks marginalizing their position. Ergo my original comment.
Having said that, the answer is as much in the phrasing of the question as the answer. Note the "Pro-Life" movement and the "Pro-Choice" movement.
We can be Pro-Gun, and Pro-CC, but still against illegal carry (as I believe most of us are), or against sales to the incompetent. I don't really see it as a slippery slope.
April 22nd, 2007 07:54 PM
I'm on your side, SixBravo.
Originally Posted by SixBravo
Yes, I'm very concerned about who draws the line and where, but there are people that shouldn't have guns.
Of course it doesn't always work, niether does the minimum age to purchase alcohol always work, but I got turned down at 7-11 when was in high school, and never tried again. Background check didn't stop Cho because his history wasn't reported. It has worked for some felons (ask a dealer, denials happen). Some of these people will of course go on to get a gun elsewhere, but some will not have the connections. In Cho's case, he wasn't a gangbanger or street thug...I doubt he had the connections.
The notion that "if something doesn't work always, that it is no good" is much like the antis' view that because the very occassional ccw'er commits a gun crime, that nobody should get a gun.
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