Political Mental Illness and Guns

I wonder how Steve Scalise thinks his leadership is working out today?

On Feb 2nd, the NRA gushed over the politicians who showed great leadership in removing the previous administration’s “final gun grab” by eliminating the order designed to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Today, a sick individual shot at a group of lawmakers playing baseball in Virginia, and one of those NRA darlings was shot. The irony is thick. I don’t say that with any satisfaction. In fact, it sickens and angers me that we keep having this same discussion over and over. Trust me, I’m not blaming the gun. I’m blaming our refusal to act in managing their possession responsibly.

Fact:        Mass shootings are on the rise, mostly committed by mentally ill subjects

Fact:        Police killings are overwhelmingly at the hands of mentally ill subjects or felons

Fact:        The American public supports common sense measures like universal background checks and preventing mentally ill individuals from buying guns

Fact:        Law enforcement deaths by gunfire are up 21% so far this year according to ODMP

Yes, I know, we can’t prevent all gun violence, but saying this tragedy couldn’t have been prevented by any of those measures is like saying we shouldn’t have DUI laws because we can’t prevent every traffic crash.

I’m tired of the excuses. We all know better. We in law enforcement especially know better. You see the carnage and live the danger every day. We know that expanding background checks and keeping people on terror watch lists and mentally unstable people from buying guns are all good ideas.

A small possible delay for me in my next gun purchase is not too much to ask to try to prevent more tragedies.

Will today’s shooting of a US Senator make him or his party reconsider their subservience to the NRA? I wish I thought so.

What I do know is this: Mental illness and guns don’t mix. Law Enforcement needs to start leading on this issue. Let’s have the courage to have some honest conversations and speak up. The life it saves may be your own.

Be Safe.


**I was in the middle of writing another (related) commentary on the pending legislation on silencers when this shooting happened. I’ll post that very soon.

8 thoughts on “Political Mental Illness and Guns

  1. It bothers me that you neglected to mention that the NRA opposed the Obama admin’s order on firearms and civil commitments on because of lack of “due process”. They were clear about that in the link that you provided.

    Simply because a person has been confined to a mental ward does not suggest they are prone to violence and commitment does not indicate that they will not be responsible for their actions after release. Most people recover.

    It is why we have “due process” and it is why, if we can afford due process to rapists, murderers, child molesters and muggers, we certainly can afford it those who have committed no crime other then suffered extreme stress or mental disease.

    As for wondering how Steve Scalise thinks his leadership is working, I hope that he is proud of his work and is more determined than ever to defend human dignity and fight the hyper-partisanship that is sickening our country.


    • My friend, I did not get into many specifics because this blog would turn into a novel. The “due process” concern is a hollow one. The same excuse is used for the terror watch list. In both cases there is a provision for appeal. These lists are ways to identify folks who maybe shouldn’t have firearms, but they are flagging mechanisms only. If the NRA and GOP think they go too far, then work on the language and respect the intent, which is clearly spelled out here:
      “The NIAA was enacted in the wake of the April 2007 shooting tragedy at Virginia Tech. The Virginia Tech shooter was able to purchase firearms from an FFL because information about his prohibiting mental health history was not available to the NICS and the system was therefore unable to deny the transfer of the firearms used in the shootings. The NIAA seeks to address the gap in information available to NICS about such prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments and other prohibiting backgrounds. Filling these information gaps will better enable the system to operate as intended, to keep guns out of the hands of persons prohibited by federal or state law from receiving or possessing firearms.”

      I hope, first, that Sen. Scalise makes a full recovery and that we all ask more questions and do what we can on this issue. This was the point of the post. We have a responsibility to do more. I’m tired of expressions of sadness after each tragedy when we do nothing to fix the things we can. I think saving and respecting lives is respecting human dignity.
      Thanks for the discussion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I disagree that “due process” is a hollow concern. It is never is.

        Rights should never be taken away by default and only returned by “due process”. The law as far as I can see makes no distinction between whether an individual has violent tendencies or not. I know a local man who was committed to a mental institution because he was gay. Years ago, in many places, that was not unusual. Is it a hollow concern that this man has to go to court and petition for the right to go duck hunting?

        But let’s look at similar situations. Would we forever deny the right of child custody to a mother because of a single civil commitment? I can cite multiple cases where mothers have brutally murdered their children after having been committed and having their children returned to them without a court hearing.

        In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, implementing the NIAA smacks of “We must do something, this is something, we must do it.” Should we have denied custody to troubled mothers because of Susan Smith?

        None of that makes any sense.

        I do not know whether the NRA or Rep Scalise would be opposed to working on language to the NIAA that would require the state to go through due process to deny rights rather than demanding that a citizen, who may have no violent tendencies, have to go to the trouble and expense to regain a right – but I can say, the obstinance of activists on both sides of this issue is legendary.

        Speaking personally, I am not gun nut. I happen to own one, a cap and ball replica of pre-cvil war pistol. I was however on the team that implemented the civil commitment transaction for the NICS check in our state. As we went through the analysis, I had this sinking, you got to be freak’n kidding me, feeling. In short, I was not impressed with the process or the intended result.

        The shooting of Rep Scalise should have no bearing on this issue, for as far as I know James Hodgkinson had never been committed to an institution.


      • You misunderstand my position. Due process is always important. It’s the false claim that is hollow. There is due process built into the system, as I said. First, the flag is only a guideline to make the background checker look at the applicant, second there is always a legal challenge to remove the designation, if unfair. I think it’s a small price to pay, but again, our reps need to have these conversations not just summarily reject ideas. We need compromise in this as well as all areas of our government. I pray this latest latest tragedy will start a real conversation. I have no idea why little kids dying isn’t a reason, but maybe these men experiencing the terror of thousands of their fellow citizens over the years might move them.


  2. In 2006, Hodgkinson was arrested for domestic battery and aggravated discharge of a firearm. According to the St. Clair sheriff’s department report, he forced his way into a neighbor’s home to find his daughter, grabbed her by the hair and punched his daughter’s female friend in the face. When the boyfriend of the girl who was punched approached Hodgkinson’s house, Hodgkinson answered the door with a shotgun aimed at the boy’s face and struck the boy’s head with the shotgun. We live in a country where a person with a history of domestic abuse and misuse of a firearm faces no impediment to purchasing a semiautomatic assault rifle. If that is the kind of country you want to live in, then doing nothing is the appropriate response.

    Liked by 1 person

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