Will that public intoxication ticket you received back in ’85 prevent you from owning a gun? What about the prescription for Xanax to the widowed wife suffering from panic attacks after losing her husband in Afghanistan? If President Obama and the Democrats in Washington get their way, these two things could DENY a person the right to own a firearm.
The media tells us the majority of Americans agree with a universal background check system. With poll questions such as this one, “Do you support or oppose requiring background checks for all gun buyers?” it is not surprising to see the high number of Americans who do support background checks. The question is worded in such a way the alternative would essentially be, “Do you support or oppose that anyone can buy a gun?”
Unfortunately, there are plenty of lies the media try to tell us. Phrases such as the gun show loophole are misleading. There is no loophole in the law. What the media has called the gun show loophole is really a protection of personal property rights. If you purchase a firearm from an FFL dealer, either from a shop or at a gun show, the FFL must—per federal law—run a background check on the purchaser.
What is a background check?
Since November 30, 1998—due to the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993—all Federal Firearms Licensees must perform a background check on everyone who intends to purchase a firearm. When you intend to purchase a firearm from an FFL dealer, you fill out ATF Form 4473. The form is ran through a division of the FBI and instantly the person is either flagged with proceed, deny or delay. There could be any number of things that show up on a background check that will deny you ownership. The ATF has a list of who cannot own a firearm.
It is not required to run a background check on person-to-person individual sales, inheritances and gifts of firearms. However, by law those who are prohibited from owning a firearm are still prohibited to possess a firearm. It is illegal to give a firearm to someone who cannot legally own it.
Proponents of a universal background system or expanded background checks say that it will keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. They think our current system is not working. However, since the end of 2012, over 980,000 NICS checks returned denied.
ATF Agent, Jeff Wachtel says, “Let’s be honest. If someone wants a gun, it’s obvious the person will not have difficulty buying a gun, either legally or through the extensive United States black market.” Seventy nine percent of convicted criminals of gun crime report obtaining their gun from the street or from a friend or family member. The other percent receive guns from theft or corrupt FFL dealers.
How do we define “mentally defective?”
As of right now, involuntarily committed to a mental institution and court-mandated records may show on a background check. It is up to each state to report those people who have either been involuntarily committed or court-mandated mentally defective. Twenty-seven states send their mental health records to the NICS. The government has allotted millions of dollars in incentives for more states to submit their records, but there has been recurring problems in getting states to submit those records. President Obama’s executive orders say, “make sure dangerous people are prohibited from having guns,” but the experts overwhelmingly agree it is virtually impossible to determine who is going to become violent.
The Institute of Medicine reports, “People with mental illnesses are responsible for no more than five percent of all violent acts in the United States.” Further, James Alan Fox who is a criminologist at Northeastern University says, “most mass murders do not have criminal records or a history of psychiatric hospitalizations.”
Obamacare made it mandatory to have a national electronic database of everyone’s medical records. Other healthcare providers besides your general practitioner may see your records. I can see how this would be helpful. There have been times I had to see quite a few doctors for the same issue. It would have been nice to have some sort of report they could all see to make my time with a particular doctor more efficient. However, who else other than medical doctors will have access to this database?
Sure, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects our privacy to a certain extent, but if you read through the exceptions, health care providers may share your health information without your permission to law enforcement officers, if they suspect abuse, neglect or domestic violence, or they feel you are threat to the health and safety of yourself or others.
Doctors are just people who all have their own opinions, religious and political beliefs. I’m sure we have all gone to two different doctors with two different opinions. I know I have. Is your doctor anti-gun? If so, would they ever be able to hold it against you?
Why is this Problematic?
It is an invasion of privacy and institutions are already violating it. The taxpayer-funded University of Iowa recently suspended their practice of sending private and personal information on students who applied for a carry permit to the Johnson County Sheriff’s department. The University claims students who apply for the gun permit sign a waiver, and therefore, give up their right to privacy. The Family Education Rights and Privacy Act is a federal law stating that universities cannot share students’ personal information. Patriot Outdoor News reports that included in the information shared with the Sheriff’s department were students’ grades, disciplinary actions, and whether the student was displaying signs of depression. The school says they will stop indefinitely until the United States Department of Education settles the matter. The university has been sending personal information to the sheriff’s department since 1991, when former graduate student Gang Lu, shot and killed five employees and one student on campus.
It is quite probable that a student who knew this and had a failing grade in biology or had gone to the on-campus nurse for stress would sacrifice their safety and choose to not apply for a carry permit.
The American Psychiatric Association agrees. They say this kind of invasion of privacy practices can lead to people who need help not seek it. Further, the APA says the stigma associated with “mental defectiveness” can actually cause worse problems than the original mental disorder.
The CDC reports that one in 10 Americans suffer from some form of depression. To diagnose depression, doctors are supposed to ask a series of eight questions; if a patient answers “yes” to five of those questions, they could be suffering from depression. The questions include:
- “Feeling tired or having little energy”
- “Trouble concentrating on things…”
- “Trouble falling asleep or staying asleep or sleeping too much”
If I asked any mother of a newborn if she was experiencing any of the above symptoms, I’m confident she would answer yes. Does that mean she shouldn’t be able to own a gun?
Currently, people who fill a prescription, have a diagnosis from a psychiatrist or are seeking mental health help are not deemed mentally defective. However, in time could seeking mental wellness from a psychologist or filling a prescription for an anti-anxiety drug be held against you?
I think we can all agree there are some people who just shouldn’t ever own a gun. However, universal background checks are not the answer. If Dianne Feinstein has her way, even veterans would be automatically flagged deny on ATF Form 4473.
I don’t have the answer; I just know this isn’t it. What are your thoughts? Do you believe expanded background checks would prevent mass shootings? Tell me in the comment section.
The mission of Cheaper Than Dirt!’s blog, “The Shooter’s Log,” is to provide information—not opinions—to our customers and the shooting community. We want you, our readers, to be able to make informed decisions. The information provided here does not represent the views of Cheaper Than Dirt!