In his diary last Wednesday, Robert P. did his best to describe the middle ground he takes on gun control. There are probably many of us who fall in line with him on this issue.
I don't necessarily consider myself a gun rights or a gun control advocate. Like Robert, I fall somewhere in the middle. I realize that making something illegal isn't necessarily going to keep it out of the wrong person's hands. Then again, when it comes to something deadly, you err on the side of caution, right? Unless, you're a Republican Congress sitting idly by while the assault weapons ban is lifted.(This one I supported)
The articles in last week's Newsweek caught my attention. There was a series of articles about guns, gun control legislation, Democrats on gun control and psychological profiles of mass killers. Pages and pages of information. I read it all and only one thing jumped out at me:
The 9mm was a major visual trope in such powerful films of the early 1990s as "Boyz n the Hood" and "New Jack City." Today it's the gun of choice for the everyday criminal and cop alike, accounting for 263,000 of the roughly 815,000 handguns manufactured in the United States in 2005, according to government figures. The U.S. International Trade Commission tracks imports of handguns, which totaled 878,000 in 2005, but those aren't broken out by type, and so not even the government knows how many 9mm guns are actually sold in this country. (emphasis added)
Scary, isn't it? We track just about everything that enters this country. What we don't track are weapons that are capable of using high-capacity magazine clips. The very clips that take the advantage away from law enforcement. The very clips the filled the 9mm Glock used in the VT killings. The very clips that became legal again as Republicans sat idly by.
We shouldn't get our hopes up that Democrats will push another assault weapon ban through, however there is some positive news. It appears the gun lobby/NRA is not opposed to having mental health records added to the database used for background checks.
One Democrat who is talking: New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed by a gunman in a 1993 shooting spree. For years, she has pushed a bill that would give states incentives to report information about criminals and the mentally ill to the National Instant Criminal Background Check database. As it is now, some states don't supply records, and others only do so sporadically. That kind of information could have stopped guns from getting into the hands of Cho, who was ruled an "imminent danger" by a judge in 2005.
McCarthy's bill passed the House in 2003, but the Senate never took it up. It will get more attention now. McCarthy's ally, Democratic Rep. John Dingell, long a gun-rights advocate, has been quietly talking with the group in hopes that the NRA will back a version of McCarthy's bill, according to The Washington Post. "We have no problem with mental-health records being part of the [database]," a source close to the gun lobby, who asked not to be named talking about internal matters, tells NEWSWEEK.
What do you think? Is this a no brainer, or does it infringe on the rights of the mentally ill? Could this be handled so that private medical data remains private?