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Can You Smell It Yet?

The distinct odor of bullshit over HR2640 was beginning to subside, but it’s passage has once again caused me to smell the odor. I’m completely willing to give Gun Owners of America a break to be what they are, the “no compromise” gun group that stands ready to charge up and take the hill. I don’t expect them to like HR2640. I do expect, however, that they will make factual and non-inflammatory arguments against it, and not try to smear other pro-gun groups who support it as the enemy. That does not help the cause. Let’s take a look:

The bill — known as the Veterans Disarmament Act to its opponents — is being praised by the National Rifle Association and the Brady Campaign.

As far as I know, GOA is the only group that’s called it the Veterans Disarmament Act, it’s an odd title for a bill that will help restore the right to bear arms to a great many veterans who might have had problems when they first came home, but don’t now.

The core of the bill’s problems is section 101(c)(1)(C), which makes you a “prohibited person” on the basis of a “medical finding of disability,” so long as a veteran had an “opportunity” for some sort of “hearing” before some “lawful authority” (other than a court). Presumably, this “lawful authority” could even be the psychiatrist himself.

This is nonsense. Here’s what the section in question actually says:

(1) IN GENERAL- No department or agency of the Federal Government may provide to the Attorney General any record of an adjudication related to the mental health of a person or any commitment of a person to a mental institution if–

(A) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, has been set aside or expunged, or the person has otherwise been fully released or discharged from all mandatory treatment, supervision, or monitoring;

(B) the person has been found by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority to no longer suffer from the mental health condition that was the basis of the adjudication or commitment, respectively, or has otherwise been found to be rehabilitated through any procedure available under law; or

(C) the adjudication or commitment, respectively, is based solely on a medical finding of disability, without an opportunity for a hearing by a court, board, commission, or other lawful authority, and the person has not been adjudicated as a mental defective consistent with section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code, except that nothing in this section or any other provision of law shall prevent a Federal department or agency from providing to the Attorney General any record demonstrating that a person was adjudicated to be not guilty by reason of insanity, or based on lack of mental responsibility, or found incompetent to stand trial, in any criminal case or under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

This section is specifically calling for due process protections for people who are prohibited persons. I challenge GOA to show me any state law where a psychiatrist can unilaterally commit someone for mental health treatment. The very term “adjudication” requires that it be some legal authority. This is not a psychiatrist.

ARGUMENT: The Veterans Disarmament Act creates new avenues for prohibited persons to seek restoration of their gun rights.

ANSWER: What the bill does is to lock in — statutorily — huge numbers of additional law-abiding Americans who will now be denied the right to own a firearm.

And then it “graciously” allows these newly disarmed Americans to spend tens of thousands of dollars for a long-shot chance to regain the gun rights this very bill takes away from them.

Show me where in the bill is adds a new class of prohibited person. Seriously. It’s not there. They are pulling this out of their asses. What they also aren’t saying is that “gracious” allowing of people who are prohibited persons for mental health reasons doesn’t exist at all under current law, and the new senate version will actually allow them to attempt to recover legal fees from the government.

More to the point, what minimal gains were granted by the “right hand” are taken away by the “left.” Section 105 provides a process for some Americans diagnosed with so-called mental disabilities to get their rights restored in the state where they live. But then, in subsection (a)(2), the bill stipulates that such relief may occur only if “the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the GRANTING OF THE RELIEF WOULD NOT BE CONTRARY TO THE PUBLIC INTEREST.” (Emphasis added.)

Um, doesn’t this language sound similar to those state codes (like California’s) that have “may issue” concealed carry laws — where citizens “technically” have the right to carry, but state law only says that sheriffs MAY ISSUE them a permit to carry? When given such leeway, those sheriffs usually don’t grant the permits!

No, it actually sounds nothing like that. Sheriffs in California and other may issue states have much broader discretion than this. Here’s the actual language:

(a) Program Described- A relief from disabilities program is implemented by a State in accordance with this section if the program–

(1) permits a person who, pursuant to State law, has been adjudicated as described in subsection (g)(4) of section 922 of title 18, United States Code, or has been committed to a mental institution, to apply to the State for relief from the disabilities imposed by subsections (d)(4) and (g)(4) of such section by reason of the adjudication or commitment;

(2) provides that a State court, board, commission, or other lawful authority shall grant the relief, pursuant to State law and in accordance with the principles of due process, if the circumstances regarding the disabilities referred to in paragraph (1), and the person’s record and reputation, are such that the person will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety and that the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest; and

(3) permits a person whose application for the relief is denied to file a petition with the State court of appropriate jurisdiction for a de novo judicial review of the denial.

The emphasis there is mine. GOA’s argument is hinging on the subjectivity of the language, but almost all language in legislation is subjective. But again, I stress the relief this bill is creating is still better than the current system, which is to have no relief.

But section 101(c)(1)(C) of HR 2640 would rubber-stamp those illegal actions. Over 140,000 law-abiding veterans would be statutorily barred from possessing firearms.

Saying it over and over doesn’t make it so. There’s no reasonable reading of that section which supports that argument. I have no problem if GOA wants to oppose this bill. Reasonable people can disagree on its merits, and it’s certainly reasonable to argue it doesn’t go far enough. But I can’t stand to see GOA going to such lengths to deceive people as to exactly what this bill does, and doesn’t do, and couch their opposition in hyperbolic and inflammatory language. I will never give a dime to GOA because of crap like this, and that’s a shame, because we need other groups to go out on limbs that NRA isn’t able to.

23 Responses to “Can You Smell It Yet?”

  1. I’m a life member of GOA, and frequent critic of the NRA (although I’m also paying on a life membership there), and I definitely don’t like HR 2640–and yet even I’m embarrassed about this “Veterans Disarmament” hysteria the GOA has been trying to whip up.

    I cannot for the life of me begin to figure out what they expect to gain by doing this, that could be worth as much as the amount of credibility they’re pissing away.

  2. Sebastian says:

    I think they figure it’ll help raise their profile. It does speak to a certain crowd that doesn’t trust the NRA. I wouldn’t have taken this beyond “I disagree with GOA on this issue” if they had just come out and said “We don’t like HR2640, we think it’s an unnecessary compromise. We disagree with the NRA for thinking this is a good bill, and here are some of our reality based concerns with the bill.” I would have expected them to not like HR2640. But the way they’ve gone about this is just so far over the top it’s not even funny.

  3. teqjack says:

    “I challenge GOA to show me any state law where a psychiatrist can unilaterally commit someone for mental health treatment.”

    Not in the context you mean, but any practicing MD [or psycholgist] can indeed incarcerate “patients” unilaterally, e.g. for [suspected] suicide attempt.

  4. David Waldrip says:

    The way they went about this cost everyone. I’m an NRA volunteer, and former GOA member, with ties to a state organization in Tennessee that is not the NRA state affiliate. Several of the people in that org blindly followed what Larry said abou this legislation. Some of the private disagreements got rather heated, and friendships/relationships damaged as a result.

    So be it.

    And, Sebastian, you’re right, I do still smell the odor. Perhaps it will decline at the same rate of decline of GOA memberships here in Shelby county.

    Merry Christmas, Larry Pratt.

  5. Ahab says:

    It’s typical GOA tactics. Since they’re essentially a non factor, the only way that Larry Prat can continue is to yell provactive stuff at the tops of lungs.

  6. Sebastian says:

    Not in the context you mean, but any practicing MD [or psycholgist] can indeed incarcerate “patients” unilaterally, e.g. for [suspected] suicide attempt.

    That’s true in many states, but that doesn’t disqualify you from possessing a firearm. The regulations specifically exempt that kind of commitment.

  7. straightarrow says:

    You will eventually see how wrong you are. Unless, of course, you have a different agenda than the one you profess.

    And no, I do not belong to the GOA. Nor am I particularly a fan. My opinion is based on the certainty that sheep will be sheared and the consistency with which history shows us how the first step is always followed by another after government establishes the precedent. That is the hard work. The rest can be done at midnight in a few years. And it will be.

    If I am no longer with us, when it happens, remember you had a chance to not be fooled.

  8. Fiftycal says:

    Pratt is just trying to get more money out of the “truthers”, stormfront members and the rest of the black helicopter crowd. I don’t believe any of his propaganda anymore. Shame also. GOA USED to be a reputable organization. Now the media uses them as an example of a moonbat whacko and paints the rest of us gun owners as just like them.

  9. Wade Jensen says:

    Sebastian,

    Giving Mr. Pratt the benefit of the doubt so as not to split up the freedom movement, there are a core of people, who happen to be behind bills such as HR 2640, who wish the rest of us no good. They will, if they think they can get away with it, completely pervert the clear written meaning of the law, and attempt to disarm us with it. Witness New Orleans during Katrina. The more laws that are on the books, the more confusion can be created, the more likely they will succeed. I think it is time we stop giving the other side advantage of believing their motives are pure, and that they just need to be better educated. No, these people are the enemies of Liberty, and those would live free. Now, Mr. Pratt may be faulted for calling them on this at times when a more subtle approach would be better, but I would never msitake his motives. He is on our side. What is it Reagan said? Something to the effect of “never criticize anyone to your right?” I know I’ve garbled that quote, but I hope I have the essence.

    Finally, NRA spin aside, I think it was a bad bill. As passed, it is neutral, and does, for a change, represent some compromise. My hat is off to Wayne LaPierre, and to Senator Cornyn.

    Regards,

    PolyKahr
    Member of NRA and GAO

  10. Just to make myself clear, I fully agree with Pratt’s opposition to HR 2640–I just think that the chief reason he cites for opposing it (that it will somehow “disarm veterans”) is sheer fabrication.

    There are (or were, this being a done deal) valid reasons to fight HR 2640, but those reasons must not have seemed dramatic enough to Pratt, so he came up with something that he hoped would mobilize people. It didn’t work, because that “something” is fiction.

  11. Sebastian says:

    Giving Mr. Pratt the benefit of the doubt so as not to split up the freedom movement, there are a core of people, who happen to be behind bills such as HR 2640, who wish the rest of us no good. They will, if they think they can get away with it, completely pervert the clear written meaning of the law, and attempt to disarm us with it.

    Believe me, I don’t like giving Carolyn McCarthy a win any more than other folks. That this is going to raise the political stature of anti-gunners in Congress and the Brady Campaign, who now get to go back and talk about the wonderful “gun control” bill they’ve passed, is one of the arguments against this bill that I think makes sense.

  12. Billll says:

    I seem to remember a story recently, from PA, I believe, in which a gun owner was causing political trouble for the officialdom. The DA ordered a mandatory mental health evaluation for the gun owner, thus placing him in the prohibited person category.
    I can’t put my finger on the story right now, but I remember thinking this was reminiscent of the Soviet practice of throwing dissidents into mental institutions.

  13. Sebastian says:

    I know the case of which you speak. The DA is not correct. The UFA specifically exempts observational stays, and so does federal law. This guy was committed in 302 of the Mental Health Procedures Act, which is the observational portion of the law.

  14. Dennis Stonehocker says:

    What seems to be missing is that there is no reason to enact ANY Bill in regards to what happened at Virginia Tech. However well intentioned this Bill may be, it will be used at some point in the future to ban legitimate gun ownership. The Brady bunch have lost nothing and gun owners potentially something. The gun control lobby knows that they have to take our rights away incrementally and this provides a good first step. Don’t forget, the leftest lawyers are still arguing over the meaning of “is”.

    Dennis

  15. Wade Jensen says:

    Well said, Dennis Stonehocker, well said!

    PolyKahr

  16. Sebastian says:

    However well intentioned this Bill may be, it will be used at some point in the future to ban legitimate gun ownership.

    How? What mechanism in the bill allows this kind of thing to happen?

    The Brady bunch have lost nothing and gun owners potentially something. The gun control lobby knows that they have to take our rights away incrementally and this provides a good first step. Don’t forget, the leftest lawyers are still arguing over the meaning of “is”.

    How have they lost nothing? They had to take their original NICS improvement bill and add a bunch of pro-gun stuff to it I can promise you they don’t like. What did we potentially lose? What rights have been taken away?

  17. Boyd says:

    I’ve noticed a trend among the folks who don’t like this bill: they keep saying that bad things will happen to gun owners, yet they never cite what part of the bill will do these bad things.

    Larry Pratt, in fact, did cite portions of the bill that would do bad things, but intelligent people read his citations and responded along the lines of “One of us doesn’t know how to read.”

    Net positive. I would never believe that gun banners can’t take something good and turn it into something bad, but for the life of me I can’t see where this bill opens that door.

  18. Dennis Stonehocker says:

    A couple of things here: 1) There was absolutely no need for this Bill, it accomplishes nothing, so what was/is the purpose? 2) There is some reason that extreme anti-gunners like Schumer love this Bill and pushed it through. After 22 years as a cop, spending endless hours in court and dealing with attorneys, I have come to one conclusion: Attorneys can take the best, most well intentioned laws on the books and along with an activist Judge twist it until they say the exact opposite of the original document. I say, if it ain’t broke ,don’t fix it.

    Dennis

  19. Sebastian says:

    1) There was absolutely no need for this Bill, it accomplishes nothing, so what was/is the purpose?

    So allowing people who had mental health episodes years ago, but are fine now, to clear their name “accomplishes nothing”?

    Schumer was happy with the bill because it was a good way to make him look like he was doing something about Virginia Tech. Both sides are declaring victory in this, but on balance, they didn’t get much, and we walked away with being able to flush a small piece of GCA 68 down the toilet.

  20. Dennis Stonehocker says:

    So allowing people who had mental health episodes years ago, but are fine now, to clear their name “accomplishes nothing”?

    I certainly hope that happens! But…I’ll bet that there are current laws that would do the same thing. I hope you are right, however I still think that there is a rat hiding somewhere in this legislation or some loop hole that was purposely put in that some slimy lawyer is just waiting to punce on.

  21. Sebastian says:

    It’s going to happen. It’s in the law that just passed. There are no current laws that would do the same thing. A lot of pro-gun attorneys who have been working in this issue for a long time like the bill. If there’s a rat in there to be found, there’s a lot of very smart people haven’t been able to find it.

  22. Dennis Stonehocker says:

    You may be right. Just read a little of David Hardy’s viewpoints ( he’s NOT a slimy lawyer, he’s one of the good guys) and he seems to agree with you. I hope that you are right and I’m wrong on this one as it seems that this will pass. The fewer laws the better!

    Dennis

  23. straightarrow says:

    A lot of progun people would seem to be fools who keep falling for the same old shit.

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