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Mental Disorders and Firearms Disability

Lynn Stuter is worried that we’re all going to be diagnosed with mental disorders, and it makes the H.R.2640 dangerous.   It may be true that we’ll all be diagnosed with some kind of mental disorder, but the fact is that’s not sufficient for a person to have a firearms disability.  Remember that you actually have to be committed to a mental institution against your will, which isn’t going to happen unless you’re as nutty as a fruitcake (and even then, it’s hard).   The only other conditions that suffice for a firearms disability are outlined in 27 CFR 478.11, which we covered on Monday:

Adjudicated as a mental defective. (a) A determination by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority that a person, as a result of marked subnormal intelligence, or mental illness, incompetency, condition, or disease:
(1) Is a danger to himself or to others; or
(2) Lacks the mental capacity to contract or manage his own affairs.
(b) The term shall include–
(1) A finding of insanity by a court in a criminal case; and
(2) Those persons found incompetent to stand trial or found not guilty by reason of lack of mental responsibility pursuant to articles 50a and 72b of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, 10 U.S.C. 850a, 876b.

This is far less encompassing than just being diagnosed with something from DSM IV.   I am quite open to arguments against H.R.2640, but I’m seeing quite a lot of opposition out there that’s based on poor information and bad facts.  When I see them, I’m going to keep pointing them out.

Via SayUncle

6 Responses to “Mental Disorders and Firearms Disability”

  1. LLR says:

    If a person should not have a gun why are they even on the outside and not in a nut house? If they are a danger to others or him/herself, why does the gov’t allow them to walk the street? It makes more sense to me that they should be locked up just in case they can get a gun out of the back of a van.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I agree with the argument, I think originally by David Codrea, that if a person can’t be trusted with a gun they can’t be trusted without a custodian. The general public, however, doesn’t see things that way. To some degree I think the criminal justice and mental health systems are probably always going to fail us. That is they won’t lock up people who should be locked up.

    Strangely, I think the public feels better when said killer gets his gun from the back of a van, because society did everything it could to prevent it. When people hear that a deranged killer or hardened criminal got his guns through legal channels, people presume that, of course, had the laws been more strict, it would have stopped him. It’s a delusion, but it’s a delusion the public seems reluctant to give up.

  3. Dano says:

    Define lawful authority…

    So why have ‘… by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority…’? Shouldn’t just court be good enough?

    My brain trips whenever I try to read that… still trying to figure out why.

  4. Sebastian says:

    It’s meant to cover the many ways that states determined whether someone needs to be committed. In some states, it’s not a formal court of law that hears mental health cases. A mental health board, or some other body can do it. It would take a very tortured reading of this to mean anything other than an authority that is established by state law with the power to adjudicate mental cases.

    Perhaps some states make it too easy to commit someone, or are too eager to issue a danger ruling, but that’s a problem with the state’s mental health laws, not really an issue with NICS per se. Remember that mental health laws can limit the freedom of someone put under it’s ward to a substantial degree. It’s a general civil liberties issues, rather than specifically a gun issue, though it’s that too.

  5. Dano says:

    Ok, makes more sense now.

    I wonder how Virginia’s lovely little legal bits will work here…

    Use to be that if you say phrase ‘I want to kill myself’, and someone calls the cops, you got a one way ticket to a psychiatric ward for a couple of days of observation. You’ve been involuntary committed, would your name now have to go on the list?
    (hopefully not, just a thought that I had)

  6. Sebastian says:

    Actually, no, because the federal regulations specifically exempt observation.

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