More than 17 million people 65 and older own a firearm in the U.S. and many suffer from memory, thinking and judgment problems and Alzheimer’s disease say public health researchers. Hallucinations and “aggressiveness combined with a highly intimidating and lethal weapon like a firearm creates a particularly dangerous situation for the person with Alzheimer’s and his caretakers,” say researchers, even imperiling whole neighborhoods.
Now Congress has voted that Social Security recipients so impaired that they need help managing their own personal finances cannot be kept from buying guns– overturning one of Obama’s last executive orders. The order sought to address the many missing mental health records in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—estimated to be 19 out of 20. Federal law prohibits people suffering from a mental health issue from buying guns but, and it is a big but, states are not mandated to supply mental health records to federal authorities—sending them is voluntary.
Grasping at Straws
Many have observed with a pro-gun Congress, White House and Supreme Court, the gun lobby is running out of clarion calls to raise money and members and grasping at straws. Does anyone really believe the lack of “reciprocity” laws, guns in schools or too many silencer laws is the first step toward “confiscation”? Really?
Still, during the summer of 2015 with massacres at a Charleston church, Lafayette movie theater, Chattanooga recruitment stations and at a live news broadcast in Roanoke, the lead story on the NRA’s facebook was not the bloodshed (all by legal gun owners) but what it called the “largest gun grab in American history.”
The “Obama social security system plans to deny 4.2 million people the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” screamed the NRA, capitalizing the phrase to Make It More Important. Denying people who cannot manage their own affairs and have dementia, schizophrenia, psychotic disorders and other problems guns is persecution screamed the NRA.
People with dementia, cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s should have guns for the same reason people who have been hospitalized for mental illness, convicted felons, domestic abuse suspects and people on the No Fly and Terror Watch Lists should have guns: the NRA does not believe in “gratuitously tak[ing] away the rights of people because when you begin taking away the rights of people that you don’t like, that’s the slippery slope,” says NRA lobbyist Marion P. Hammer. “Don’t like?” How about “don’t trust with lethal weapons?”
Most mass shooters are known by their families and in their communities as mentally unbalanced yet they buy their guns legally, a list that includes the Orlando, Dallas, Baton Rouge, Tucson, Aurora, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, Planned Parenthood, Chattanooga, Kalamazoo, Roanoke, Umpqua, and Lafayette murderers. The Fort Lauderdale airport murder suspect walked into an FBI field office and admitted hearing voices yet Alaska cops returned his gun to him. He had “gun rights” says the gun lobby and now…Congress.