It is no secret that many mass shooters have severe psychiatric illnesses at the time of their crimes. From Virginia Tech, Aurora and Tucson, to the Navy Yard, Umpqua, Roanoke and Orlando shootings, most shooters exhibited clear mental illness before their deeds.
What is a secret is that while the gun lobby says the “real problem” behind gun violence is mental illness, it actually works–stealthily- behind the scenes to restore the “gun rights” of people with severe mental illness.
After the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists were successful in pushing through a provision in the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] 2007 amendments that allows the restoration of gun rights of mentally ill people if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and if “the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.”
The NRA, in a newsletter to its followers, did not hide the fact that the maneuver was a con job that looked like tightened gun access but actually did the opposite–improved access to guns for people with mental illness.
“In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law,” read the NRA website. “Under H.R. 2640, certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm. Examples are adjudications that have expired or been removed, or commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required. Also excluded are federal decisions about a person’s mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent.”
Thanks to the gun lobby maneuver, Sam French, a Virginian who was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility and told authorities he heard voices, had his right to possess firearms reinstated and his gun returned after a short court hearing in 2009. Why should hearing voices intrude on his “gun rights”?
Another man who was involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric facility because of a meth addiction also had his “gun rights” restored, reported the Oregonian. He soon had a “new XDM Springfield handgun at his side,” wrote the paper. Nice.
Reject These Gun Lobby Lies
The U.S. gun violence epidemic which takes 90 lives a day, 31 from homicides, is predicated on key gun lobby lies. “Criminals don’t follow laws,” says the lobby despite the fact that 85 percent of mass shooters since 1981 have been legal gun owners not criminals.
“It takes a good guy to stop a bad guy” says the lobby despite the fact that 18 law enforcement officers were shot by legal gun owners (not “criminals”) in one week this summer.
And finally, “the real problem is mental illness” says the lobby even as it helps people with mental illness own guns. But of course every country in the world has mental illness–rich and poor, industrialized and developing. What they do not have are massacres like Virginia Tech, Aurora, Umpqua or Orlando because they don’t have the gun lobby arming their mentally ill population.