Friday, January 3, 2014

Obama's new anti-rights "executive actions"

Most, if not all, high-profile shootings and other acts of violence have involved perpetrators known to somebody to be dangerously ill. I've written repeatedly about this problem. Clearly, persons who have a mental illness combined with behavior or other signals that makes them a danger to themselves or others should be restricted from possessing dangerous items of any kind.

I therefore support reasonable steps to accomplish this goal provided there is absolutely no compromise of the right of responsible persons to easily and responsibly acquire, posses, and use arms.

I also support the restoration of gun rights to formerly mentally-ill adults who have been successfully treated and to former criminals who have reformed their lives.

I am concerned by today's Whitehouse announcement of new "executive actions" on background checks for gun purchases. It appears to me that the Obama Administration is struggling to expand the pool of gun-restricted mental-health patients in an effort to limit gun ownership.

In its announcement, the Administration, " proposing to clarify that the statutory term 'committed to a mental institution' includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments....."

Until this "executive action", your medical information (including some mental health information) has been protected by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996). Until now, no one, not even the government, could legally access your private medical records. Yet, with the stroke of a pen, President Obama has unilaterally struck down parts of this important privacy law to make medical and mental health information available to the FBI for firearm background checks.

This move will be a huge disincentive for gun owners to voluntarily seek appropriate help when they need it. For example, I know an individual who had serious psychological reactions to a combination of medications for ADHD. Because to the side effects of these drugs, this person needed hospitalization to be safely taken off the drugs. That person is is fine now, but I fear that Obama's "executive action" would permanently bar this person from the enjoyment and protection of arms.

Other gun-rights activists are also concerned. For example, Jeff Knox announced:
We really have a problem with what they're doing and the way they're doing it. Congress has looked at this issue and has rejected action on this issue. When Congress looks at something and says 'no', that's not traditionally a green light for the White House to go and do it on their own. That's an overreach on the part of the executive — and if we had a Congress and a system that was functioning properly, they would slap him down for this and they would refuse to allow this to happen.
The Administration's latest move seems to me to be another deliberate step down the slippery slope toward Soviet-style gulags where political enemies -- especially gun-rights advocates -- are branded mentally-ill sufficiently to justify the deprivation of their God-given rights.

On that point, Knox has more to say:
There's a reason we hate the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives). The agency is under the Justice Department and operates the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). They've earned our animosity. They came after us over and over again....Every time they promulgate a new law or a new regulation, they try and make it sound like it's about keeping violent and crazy people away from guns, but the way it's enforced is always they come after us -- the regular gun owners, because we're the easy targets. It's really difficult to find violent and crazy people and catch them in the act. It's really easy to find me -- to comb through my files, my gun safe, my paperwork -- and find some error that I've made and hang me out to dry because of it. They're using these laws to attack us, not to go after criminals, and that's the big problem.
This "executive-action" raises several important questions, none of which the Obama Administration seems willing to answer publicly:
• What is mental illness?
• Who is mentally ill?
• How mentally ill must one be to justify revocation of a fundamental right?
• How "normal" must a person be to own and use firearms?
• Who makes the determination of a person's fitness?
• Are mental-health professionals and facilities really trained, experienced, and equipped to accurately and reliably identify those who pose a risk without infringing the rights of those who are not a risk?
• What steps will be taken to ensure uniform and reasonable standards will be applied to all?
• What qualifies as a mental health facility?
• If treatment (outpatient or inpatient) is successful, will the patient still be barred from possessing arms?
• Will there be due process of law?
• What steps will be taken to protect privacy?
• Which is more important in the minds of the policymakers -- individual rights or security (control)?
• Who gets to make the rules? Will there be an opportunity for public comment or legislative oversight?

Most who are treated by mental health professionals are not mentally ill at all or their illness does not cause them to be a threat to self or others. Nevertheless, Obama's initiative seems destined to trap these responsible Americans into the gun-restricted category. Unfortunately, the NRA seems willing to scapegoat these people in exchange for letting the rest of us off the hook. Such people could be "outpatients" who: • Check themselves into a "fat farm" or otherwise seek help for weight loss, • Seek help to overcome addictions such as food addictions, pornography, or gambling, • Seek the help of a psychiatrist for treatment/counseling for ADHD, PMS, domestic abuse (as a victim), PTSD, rape, or anxiety, • Attend a parenting class or marriage or family counseling, • Respond affirmatively when asked by a physician whether you have a gun in the home, • Attend a diversity-sensitivity class required by your employer, or • Attend a driving re-education course because you have a lead foot.

We already know how hostile our nation has been, from Clinton to today, to the gun rights of our war veterans. More than 150,000 law-abiding veterans have already lost their constitutional rights -- with no due process whatsoever -- because they consulted a VA therapist about a traumatic incident in Iraq, Afghanistan, or the Balkans. This has been a test to see what our politicians can get away with. They got away with it with our vets. Does anyone think that non-vets will be treated any better?

Obama, his staff, and handlers are probing and testing to see how far he can go with their anti-gun agenda. We know he has nearly half of the voters behind him (virtually all of those who voted for him still have no regrets) along with a majority in the Senate and much of the House of Representatives. It is no problem for the Administration to shop around for federal judges who will side with him and his anti-gun supporters. All of these expect Obama to legislate from the Whitehouse -- to unilaterally impose harsh restrictions on civilian arms. Exploiting the mental health aspect is an ideal foot-in-the-door to bypass the People and their elected representatives.

Under Obama's new regulations, tens of millions of police and firemen with PTSD and or people who, as children, were diagnosed with ADHD could lose their constitutional rights without any court order, merely because they sought treatment a benefit under a federal program.

According to the US Constitution, the central government has one legislative branch. That means that only that branch is authorized to legislate -- to make law. The executive branch is designated -- and sworn -- to faithfully execute those laws which are constitutional -- not to make up its own laws as it goes. The executive and judicial branches are out of line when they make laws. The legislative branch is out of line when they authorize the other branches to make laws or ignore them when they do so without congressional authorization.

Every congressman has a sworn duty lead the fight against any president's usurpation of power, including Obama's expansion of what constitutes a gun-restricted person. I also urge Congress to establish a functioning process whereby the mentally ill and former criminals can have their gun rights restored after a reasonable period of responsible behavior. And it must firmly defend its sole-legislative authority.
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. -- Edmund Burke
The few good people in Congress are doing nothing. The same is true of most American voters.

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