As Swanson and his colleagues see it, gun ownership restrictions related to mental health are too broad and too narrow all at once. They capture a lot of people because of some contact with the courts or health care system, in some cases minor or a long time ago, who are actually at low risk of perpetrating gun violence. At the same time, they miss people who have yet to be diagnosed, adjudicated mentally ill or involuntarily committed, including people who are suicidal or have pathological anger, he said.
However much of what they propose I would find more unacceptable than the current status quo. For instance, I am steadfastly against restricting firearms because some people might commit suicide with them, something the article suggests would be a positive thing.
We’ve seen the gun control movement in recent years switch from an emphasis on crime to an emphasis on suicide, probably because crime has dropped to record low levels, and to be frank you can fundraise more easily from suicide victims. As the article notes:
Some observers say that talking more about suicides will change the focus of the gun control debate, in part by bringing a new demographic of victims into the discussion. Where often the victims of firearm-related homicide are young black or Hispanic males, nearly 80% of those who use guns to take their own lives are white men, according to the CDC.
They point to this study:
Our empirical analysis suggest that firearms regulations which function to reduce overall gun availability have a significant deterrent effect on male suicide, while regulations that seek to prohibit high risk individuals from owning firearms have a lesser effect.
Restricting access to lethal means has been identified as an effective approach to suicide prevention, and firearms regulations are one way to reduce gun availability.
No regulation of this kind, intended solely to discourage the exercise of an enumerated right, should ever be constitutional. I’m also just philosophically opposed to restricting access to dangerous objects because someone might kill themselves with it. That leads to a society that enfeebles it’s citizens, keeping them in a child-like state where dangerous things have to be kept from them by their parental figures (government) for their own good. Such a society may be regarded as kind, but it is not a free society.