Cornyn Introducing New Mental Health Bill

We’ll Be Watching for Language, since I have not seen any yet. John Cornyn is introducing the “Mental Health and Safe Communities Act” today, which the NRA is already endorsing. It looks like a mix of straight-up mental health funding, along with some more incentives for reporting mental health firearm disabilities to the FBI. Without language, I don’t have much analysis to offer, except that we’ve seen several of these reporting bills become law, and there are several states that still aren’t reporting. I don’t know how much more incentive can be offered, and the feds can’t force them to report anything.

Usually you see this kind of thing run when there’s lawmakers who for one reason or another, want some cover from the “something must be done!” crowd, so they can argue they did “something.” I do know Bloomberg is trying to run a competing bill that, needless to say, probably goes further than this one will.

I sincerely hope this isn’t a sign that politicians are becoming afraid of Bloomberg’s money. In the past, the gun control movement hasn’t had the money to run “Congressman Spineless voted against keeping guns out of the hands of crazy people, and against commonsense gun reforms that will save the lives of our children. Send Congressman Spinless a message this fall; our children are more important than the evil gun lobby.” Bloomberg’s money changes that.

8 thoughts on “Cornyn Introducing New Mental Health Bill”

  1. This might be a nice vehicle via which to attach a long overdue reciprocity amendment. As I recall, Cornyn was the sponsor of the most recent senate version of a reciprocity bill. Well within the fed’s authority to ensure equal protection of rights under the law.

  2. NRA-ILA has been pushing various measures at the state level to increase NICS reporting, especially in states that have the records in their judicial system and that could therefore report the information. To date, it has not been entirely successful because many states are simply entrenched in their ways.

    NICS provides federal compliance funding as an incentive, but it’s not enough to get the states off their collective asses on adjudicated mental health reporting. And not to be too cynical, but many of the “unfree” states are the ones with the furthest to go.

    There have been states where the psychological associations actually teamed with NRA (yes, you read that right), and various bills to mandate full NICS compliance still went nowhere.

    I suspect this bill will be upping the ante. Federal funding should be dependent on meeting certain threshold obligations, and one of them should be reporting every person who is adjudicated a threat to themselves or others (for any reason). You would not be surprised that this is not reported as often as you would like, and usually states get in compliance only after some horrible incident within their own borders (Virginia is the poster child for this if you compare NICS reporting pre/post VA Tech).

    Some caveats: I am not ILA; and I have not seen the text. But I have worked with the players in the past and am sharing what I think is collective frustration.

    Say what you want about the Brady Bill, but NICS has been our friend more often than not. The other side seriously regrets that one. The stronger the NICS system, the better off we all are.

    If you want to reach for the gold, hope that the Cornyn bill gets rid of POC at the state level. But that’s another horror story (which ironically – again – includes Virginia).

    1. I think that you are viewing NICS with rose colored glasses here. OFF has done a very good job at debunking the background check “ruse”. The number of prosecutions for a NICS BG check failure is staggeringly low in Oregon and I suspect around the country too. NICS may have been a short term gain to stave off a nationwide waiting period, but I think in the long term we may have been better off with the latter.

      It would have created lot more anger and outrage on our side, that would have stood a chance of altering that law post passage. However, because NICS was put in place, we were mollified into subservience to the entire “must have background checks” lie.

      Anything the supports, props up, or in any way underpins the NICS or background check infrastructure is a move away from goodness. It enables the ‘noose tightening’ of future restrictions and the ability to instantly deny purchase for any number of reasons, known to us and unknown. Stronger NICS lays the groundwork for disarming: people in counseling, VETS seeking counseling or mental health treatment, angry soon to be ex spouses alleging mental health issues, people arbitrarily added to “government lists” and more. Stronger NICS is the tool by which disarmament is being expanded.

      We’ve already seen evidence that mass shootings are not on the rise, they are simply being sensationalized more. Adding new restrictions is not the way to increase freedom, nor does it help the shooting community.

      1. I see your points and agree with several of them. That said, you appear to have missed mine.

        Background checks are a given in our current political environment (though the future is getting better). Given that, NICS has been more helpful to gun owners than bad. Edge cases exist, but overall NICS has made it easier to purchase and transfer firearms nearly everywhere in the USA.

        Expanding NICS disabilities (inability to purchase because of NICS) is not a new threat – it was the initial goal of a NICS-like system in the first place. The idea then – as now – was for gun controllers to whittle down the eligible population and to track ownership. Neither has been successful. The reason is the vigilance of the gun community and the NRA.

        NICS could be further strengthened to our advantage. Killing POC status for many states would be a great start – especially for states that do not fully contribute their data to the system. Unfortunately Cornyn’s bill does not do that, but it does keep NICS from being used to further gun control.

        Thanks for your thoughts. Note I did not argue against them, wish to make clear my point: in a world where we need background checks, NICS has done us pretty good and will continue to protect a lot of us from adverse state action so long as NICS stays relevant and current.

        I don’t see NICS as a prosecutor’s tool. I see it only as a way to ensure we don’t get stymied trying to exercise our rights. Everything else (prosecutions, etc) are not even on my radar.

        1. Killing POC states should be a goal. Pennsylvania’s system, PICS, well, let’s just say for us POC stands for Piece of Crap. NICS is actually fairly well run in comparison.

  3. This should be coupled with a rider for permanent funding for restoration of rights. A free society can’t have one without the other…


    BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A group of residents in northern Idaho lined up outside a U.S. Navy veteran’s house on Thursday to protest claims that federal officials are planning on confiscating the man’s weapons.

    Idaho Republican state Rep. Heather Scott of Blanchard said the Veteran Affairs office has sent a letter to John Arnold of Priest River warning him that he cannot possess or purchase firearms.

    The protest -spearheaded by Scott- attracted roughly 100 people. Among them were Bonner County Sheriff Daryl Wheeler, who promised to stand guard against any federal attempts to remove Arnold’s guns, and Republican Washington state Rep. Matthew Shea of Spokane Valley, who described the event as a “defiance against tyranny.”

    “I took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and uphold the laws of Idaho,” Wheeler said. “This seemed appropriate to show my support. I was going to make sure Mr. Arnold’s rights weren’t going to be breached.”

    Veteran Affairs spokesman Bret Bowers confirmed a letter had been sent to Arnold from the VA’s benefits office in Salt Lake City, but he said that VA policy prohibits discussing individual health records without consent. Bowers added that the agency doesn’t have the authority to confiscate weapons.

    “We don’t send officers to confiscate weapons. We are about providing health care to veterans,” he said.

    Currently, the Veterans Affairs Department can bar veterans from purchasing guns if they are declared incompetent. However, this authority has been criticized by Second Amendment advocates. Most recently, Republican U.S. Sen. John Cornyn of Texas proposed legislation that would require court action before barring gun purchases by veterans declared incompetent.

Comments are closed.