Monday, February 07, 2005

"Preventing gun violence" in Indiana

Journal Gazette | 02/04/2005 | Preventing gun violence

This from The Unofficial IPSC List member John H, who voices a certain ... reluctance ... to accept the presumed expertise of LEOs to accurately identify citizens who suffer from "Mental Illness".

Legislation allowing law enforcement officers to temporarily seize guns from individuals when there is a reasonable suspicion of mental illness is not a gun-rights issue. It’s a safety issue.

You can tell right away that the publication has no opinion in this unattributed article which is NOT part of the Editorial or Features sections of the website.

Here's one way you can tell it's not an opinion article: if the item makes some attempt to provide more than one side of the story, OR if it resists the temptation to judge the subject, it may be a News item.

So just how does the Fort Wayne, Indiana, Journal Gazette handle this sensitive subject?

Indiana’s lawmakers need to support this legislation, which would protect people from firearm violence.

Well, that sounds fair and neutral to me, don't you think?
But wait ... there's more:

Legislation in the House would permit law enforcement officers to confiscate firearms from individuals for 45 days when an officer thinks the person is mentally ill and dangerous. It allows prosecutors to petition the court to extend the hold on the weapons and gives the court the authority to issue search warrants for weapons possessed by someone who is dangerously mentally ill. It also allows individuals whose guns were seized to petition the court for a review of the weapon retention order.
Where do we start?
How about qustioning the practice leaving the evaluation of mental illness to the judgement ... or opinion, or bias ... of the arresting officer?

Maybe, to go right to the point, we should wonder when a Psychologist or other person who is qualified to evaluate mental competence becomes involved?
As nearly as we can tell from this article, the answer is ... NEVER!

Don't get me wrong here. I don't like the idea of a NutCase With A Gun any more than the average Joe does. But the whole situation is a set-up for abuse. What's to stop a cop with a grudge from arbitrarily deciding that, for example, his girlfriend's husband (to use an extreme example) should be unilaterally disarmed?

Where's the review process?

Well, I don't know. I don't see it in the article. Maybe it's in the text of the bill, which is conveniently missing.

So what does the NRA have to say about this?
Rep. Larry Buell, R-Indianapolis, who authored the bill, says that he consulted with the National Rifle Association when he drafted the bill and that it supports the legislation. “We think it’s a balance to a person’s right to bear arms and the safety of individuals who might be harmed,” Buell said.
I subscribe to the NRA-ILA newsletter, and they didn't send me an ALERT about this today. Nor is it mentioned on the NRA website. Nor is it featured on the NRA "Reckless Lawsuits" website.

Hmmmm... this is three days AFTER the Indiana Journal Gazette article, and the NRA still hasn't acknowledged their support of the bill. I know it's risky to judge from negative input, but I can't help thinking that if the NRA signed off on this one, they should have said something by now. You don't suppose that Rep. Buell lied, do you? After all, I can't find it in the NRA's Legislative Alerts and Updates, nor in their NRA-ILA Grassroots Alerts feature.

There's more, much more, in the article. Go read it yourself. I have no expectation that the supposed concern for mentally ill people is the primary concern of the sponsors of the bill. Sorry, maybe I'm paranoid, but I'll leave it up to you to decide.

And while you're at it, you can decide for yourself how much you trust the ability of the average Cop On The Corner to determine the difference between a mentally ill person, and somebody who just pisses him off.

1 comment:

Gothamimage said...

Noticed your blog on "The Dasboard" after I posted- I wish I knew Greek- I am going to Cyprus one day.