Another Day, Another Gun Control Scheme

It’s another beautiful sunny day here in California, at least where I am right now. In other words, it’s the perfect time for politicians to come up with another gun control scheme that has nothing to do with public safety, preventing violence or saving lives. Its only function is to open up an entirely new avenue to deny California residents of their Second Amendment rights. I give you the California Do Not Sell List.

On January 24, 2018 Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, introduced AB1927, the California Do Not Sell List. The bill would allow individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts to voluntarily submit their name to the state office responsible for background checks. This submission would be added to the California background check system as well as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill allows self-registering individuals to subsequently request removal of their names by showing they were no longer a danger to themselves or others.

Bonta pointed to a study that Californians who took their own lives usually did so in the first week after a gun purchase. As expected, the usual suspects in the gun control community have backed the proposal. The Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence said, “We support legislation that would empower people struggling with suicidal urges to promote their own health and safety in moments of calm and clarity by voluntarily adding their names to confidential gun background-check databases for a temporary period.” Their support is no wonder, since this bill opens up a Pandora’s box for abuse and expansion of gun control options.

The main point of this bill is suicide prevention, supposedly something no rational person could argue with. Of course, we’re not supposed to look behind the curtain and see how badly it misses the mark and what’s really going on. The bill completely ignores California’s mandatory 10-day waiting period from the time of purchase to the time of delivery for firearms. This cooling down period as the State calls it, is specifically designed to help prevent suicides and firearm violence by putting a delay on the delivery of a firearm, a period in excess of Assemblyman Bonta’s seven day period of supposedly heightened concern.

While the bar for getting on this list is incredibly easy, filling in a form on a website, the process for getting off is incredibly difficult. The individual must file a petition in the Superior Court to have their name removed from the list once he or she establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that he or she is not at elevated risk of suicide. Exactly what will constitute sufficient “preponderance of the evidence” isn’t spelled out, however I expect this would include, among other things, certification from a mental health care professional, a potentially significant expense along with other legal fees and court costs. Given the California court’s negative view of personal firearms ownership, getting off the list may be next to impossible.

And then, there’s the potential for fraud and abuse. What could go wrong with a state run secure online website for individuals to voluntarily submit their names? Other than the folly of thinking the State will keep this information confidential and ONLY use this information for firearms background purposes, think of how many people have taken a copy of your driver’s license including your employer, landlord, doctor, auto dealer, etc. etc. etc. All more than enough to verify who you are to a state run secure online website. And that doesn’t include how much of your personally identifiable information can be found online with very little trouble. How about that NIMBY neighbor who wants to have a ‘gun-free’ community? And guess what, you won’t even know about it until you try to purchase a firearm (or ammunition) and get denied. Good luck proving it wasn’t you who submitted your information and getting your rights back in your county court system.

And if that doesn’t scare you enough, think about California’s Firearms Emergency Protective Orders. This allows your close family members to have your firearms and ammunition taken away and prevent you from purchasing new ones if they are afraid you may hurt yourself, or another person, with a gun. But it requires a secret (you don’t get notified or allowed to attend) court hearing to authorize. How long do you think it’s going to take to get “close family members” added to who can “voluntarily” add your name to the California Do Not Sell List?

The way Bonta puts it; you would think the United States, with the highest percentage of firearms owners in the world, would have the highest suicide rate. In fact we are tied for 50th with Uruguay. Many of the countries with higher rates, such as Japan at 17th, highly restrict or outlaw civilian firearm ownership. Eliminating one mechanism, a firearm, is going to have no impact on the suicide rate. Other means will always be found. Further, thinking that at-risk individuals will voluntarily add themselves to a list to eliminate this single option during “moments of calm and clarity” is absurd.

Suicide is a significant issue in this and every other country. I don’t profess to be any kind of an expert in the field, but everything I see indicates it is a combination of mental health AND societally issues. There are many stimuli that can lead individuals down a path to take their own life. Depression, a primary cause from any number of sources, is generally treatable. However, the way we view mental health and depression can be a roadblock in treatment and prevention. Just the shame of seeking help for a mental health “issue” can keep people from seeking the help they need. Just mentioning depression to a health care professional can initiate scrutiny from many levels and include heavy doses of medication and the potential to lose your job or rights and privileges that are a necessary part of our daily lives. By stigmatizing any form of assistance, we make the problem worse and lose lives we might otherwise be able to save.

Together with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) started a pilot program, involving community-based AFSP chapters in four states. This is the first time a national suicide organization has collaborated with firearm retailers, range owners and the firearm-owning community about suicide prevention. There are also other partnership programs in Washington, Vermont and other states bringing together mental health professionals and retailers to help identify those at risk and get them the help they need.

I, like the rest of the firearm industry, promote safety, security and responsible firearms ownership. This includes helping individuals get the help they need. But when I see the elitists come up with another gun control scheme in the name of ‘saving lives’, I have to call it out and identify it for what it really is, just another way to strip away your Second Amendment rights.

Bob

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