Posted by: JDM..... | January 29, 2013

Defective law…..

and, going off half cocked……

The following statement was gleaned from a recent article regarding the current batting about of the Second Amendment question that, like a cow’s cud, resurfaces periodically for another go at digestion:

“Federal law already bars the sale or transfer of firearms to a person who is known or thought to have been “adjudicated as a mental defective.” In addition, at least 44 states currently have their own laws regulating possession of firearm by mentally ill individuals, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. But not enough states report their mental health data to the federal government, rendering the federal law largely toothless.”

….as it generally SHOULD be. “Federal law” should always be secondary to state law, except in regard to issues clearly addressing national security, and limited additional circumstances as prescribed by the Constitution. The progressive homogenization of “states’ rights” in recent years speaks to the suggestion that “every bad idea started out as a good idea”. In most cases, the original “good” idea remains as such. It is its mutant offspring that are the problem.

First of all, I object to use of the phrase “a mental defective” as a label to describe a person. Such a reference is far too broad a brush to use in describing defined populations in matters of law. While it may seem nit-picky, such generalizations have quickly outgrown their britches more than once during the course of human history. For one thing, it is the terminology of people who have little or no knowledge of the behavioral sciences attempting to talk as if they know what they are talking about. The term is no more medically appropriate than classifying a loosely described assortment of people as “retards”. When discussing the subject of limiting the rights of people for any reason, those reasons must be extremely detailed as to parameters and the restrictions must be equally detailed regarding duration and conditions to be met.

I retired after twenty five years in the mental health field, and quite frankly, I have encountered patients I would trust with a firearm far more than I would have trusted selected members of the staff taking care of them, including at least one psychiatrist.

Secondly, adjudicated is the operative word when it comes to limiting, or eliminating a person’s rights. One of the differences between some state laws and the federal statute concerns the matter of the processes that one must complete before declaring a person disqualified from owning a firearm. There is a vast difference between someone involuntarily committed by a judge and someone admitted for a 72 hour evaluation as a result of some incident or circumstance. The temptation in today’s environment might be to standardize the procedure under a central federal authority, but the “wise” thing to do would be the opposite. In fact, federal authority should go no further than establishing what may be privately owned and what must be reserved for military or experimental purposes in regards to legitimate defense and law enforcement functions. Who may own firearms and the procedures for restricting one’s Second Amendment rights, in keeping with existing Constitutional parameters, should be the province of the individual states. Rules that would be reasonable and appropriate for central Montana or Aroostook County, Maine would probably be ludicrous for Los Angeles or New York City, and visa versa.

The impotency of the federal law requiring states to report mental health data, meaning names and other personal information, to the federal government for a database is hampered by the failure to incorporate an acknowledgment of State’s Rights in the writing of the law in the first place.

The increasing centralization of authority and responsibility for the diverse environments and lifestyles of 315 million people makes it imperative that the scope of such authority and responsibility be minimized and focused. The current trend is to complicate and extend it. That can only lead to tyranny.

The writer observed that the federal law is toothless. Better a toothless federal law than fifty toothless states.


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  1. 🙂

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