by Corey Graff, Executive Director
“I’m very sorry we can’t sell you this handgun,” the gun dealer tells you as he snatches what was to be your new hunting revolver from your hand. “FBI denied your background check. Said something about you being ‘mentally defective.’ Sorry.”
As you leave the gun shop you’re confused, infuriated and empty-handed. You’ve never committed a crime in your life. You’re a hunter education safety instructor, a father, a life-long sportsmen, a military veteran and are active in your church. Yet somehow a bureaucrat who knows nothing about you claims you’re a mental case. Finally you remember: almost two decades ago, your family doctor sent you to see a “specialist” who prescribed anti-depressants for a temporary bout of depression you were dealing with after your father passed away. In hindsight, the pills didn’t help much and it all seemed so innocent at the time.
But that was then and this is now — when law-abiding gun owners get entangled in the nets of the NRA’s new-and-improved federal gun control scheme: NICS.
Recently Wisconsin Republican State Senator Alberta Darling (River Hills) announced she will sponsor a post-Virginia-Tech gun control bill in the state legislature. Her bill will dump mental health data at the state level into the federal National Instant Check System (NICS) database. Darling claims these records will be used to disqualify those “adjudicated mentally defective” from buying guns.
Darling’s bill is a response to federal legislation introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) — formerly HR 297 which has now morphed into HR 2640, the “National Instant Check System (NICS) Enhancement Act” — which would expand the scope of point-of-sale background checks to survey the new influx of mental health records provided by states. The Federal Department of Justice (DOJ) has issued letters to state attorney generals requesting they voluntarily supply court-held health record data to the feds. So far only 23 states comply with those outlandish demands.
This all came about when it was discovered that Virginia-Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui had been known to have had received psychological treatment in his past and later legally purchased a handgun through NICS — a gun he used to kill 33 people. Representatives from both sides of the aisle in congress “began negotiations” with NRA leadership to ram a gun control bill into law to “close the loophole.”
NRA Chief Lobbyist Chris Cox claimed, “We’ve been on record for decades for keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally adjudicated. It’s not only good policy, it’s good politics,” he said.
Not so fast, Mr. Cox. An honest examination of this multifaceted issue reveals that an expansion of NICS buys into a dangerous false premise for all gun owners concerned about their liberty and is not sound policy or good politics for the Second Amendment community or anyone else. Here’s why gun owners must not only oppose expanding the NICS background check system, they must fight to repeal it.
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About the Author: Corey Graff is the executive director of Wisconsin Gun Owners, Inc. (WGO), a pro-gun activist, and a life-long gun owner from Wisconsin.