Graham bill: Ban guns from some mentally ill
Shocked into action by a Lady’s Island woman who legally bought a gun and allegedly took it to a Charleston school, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., rolled out a bill Wednesday that would ban some people who are mentally ill from buying firearms.
Under current law, court decisions involving mental competency do not have to be reported to the federal gun database, according to Graham. Gun stores around the nation rely on the database to identify potential gun buyers who are ineligible to buy firearms.
Under the bill, backed by a bipartisan coalition of senators, certain federal court records pertaining to a person’s mental health would have to be included in the database. That would block gun purchases, according to the senators.
That would include people whom federal courts have found to be:
• Not guilty by reason of insanity or mental disease or defect. That was the case for Lady’s Island resident Alice Boland, who was allowed to buy a handgun at a Walterboro gun store last month. She took the gun to Ashley Hall school in Charleston, pointed it at two school officials and pulled the trigger, according to police. The gun was loaded but did not fire because there was no cartridge in the chamber of the semiautomatic weapon, police said. Boland pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity in 2009 after threatening President George W. Bush, members of Congress and others, according to court records.
• An imminent danger to themselves or others, as well as those involuntarily committed to treatment by a psychiatric hospital.
• Incompetent to stand trial in a criminal case.
It does not include those who seek voluntary treatment for mental illness and those in mental institutions for observation. It also requires a process for reinstatement of gun-ownership rights at the state and federal levels for those who recover from mental illness.
“Our bill addresses the Boland case, and other similar instances, to ensure that those who have been declared an imminent danger to themselves or others aren’t legally able to obtain a firearm,” Graham said. “I would expect overwhelming bipartisan support for our legislation.”
That support includes the National Rifle Association, which endorsed the bill Wednesday.
“The NRA strongly supports this legislation to improve the National Instant Check System,” said Chris W. Cox, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action. “This bill will create accurate definitions of those who pose serious threats and should be barred from the ability to buy or possess a firearm, while protecting the rights of law abiding citizens and veterans.”
South Carolina is one of 12 states that does not report mental-health data to the federal government and is one of six states with no laws limiting those who are mentally ill from purchasing firearms in certain circumstances.
**Editor’s Note: We here at The Jeenyus Corner have nothing against keeping fire arms out of the hands of mentally disturbed people. However, who is tasked with making that distinction is a big cause for concern. It is the government that labels people as sane or insane, and government who comes up with the guidelines for making such a diagnosis. One only has to recall the unjust arrest of one former Marine, Brandon Raub, who was taken into custody and detained in a Virgina mental facility over posts he made on Facebook that the government found threatening.
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