Todd Peterson: Malloy off base with latest gun proposal

23 Dec 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Gun Violence.

Congress may have declined to ban the sale of guns to people on federal terrorism watch lists, but one state — New Jersey — has, at least theoretically, been stopping such purchases since 2013. Three years after a deranged young man gunned down 20 children and six educators in an elementary school, two weeks after a radical Islamist couple killed 14 people at a holiday party, the U.S.

If one thing has become clear in the wake of the most recent string of mass shootings we as a nation have experienced this year — beginning with Charleston, through Chattanooga and Lafayette, and, most recently, in Colorado Springs and San Bernardino — the American people are tired of waiting for action.Those who oppose expanded gun-control legislation frequently argue that instead of limiting access to guns, the country should focus on mental health problems. “People with mental illness are getting guns and committing these mass shootings,” said Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, after the shooting in San Bernardino, Calif., early this month.A Tuesday report from a liberal think tank offered an assortment of recommendations for state governments to battle gun violence — including stricter background checks.

And Republicans in the Senate backed mental-health legislation even as they rejected bills to require universal background checks and bar people on the terrorism watch list from buying guns. The Washington-based Center for American Progress, in a 67-page report, suggested five other areas where states could exercise their power: Enhanced enforcement of current laws, improved date collection and analysis, increased community involvement, increased oversight of gun owners with concealed-carry permits, and better regulation of the gun industry. “With more than 30,000 people killed with guns each year in this country, gun violence can easily be called a national crisis,” said Chelsea Parsons, the CAP vice president for guns and crime policy.

But the system could potentially serve as a model for a handful of other states, including New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Illinois and California, where lawmakers have been exploring ways to restrict sales without an act of Congress. We simply do not have the luxury of waiting while Congress continues to debate these issues and the National Rifle Association throws up every conceivable roadblock to thwart common sense, lifesaving gun laws that have the support of the vast majority of Americans.

The group, while acknowledging not all of its 28 recommendations were “appropriate or feasible in every state,” said it was trying to lay out a variety of possible options for local officials. Malloy for once again bringing some common sense to the frustrating and polarizing issue of gun safety.” Dan Malloy has either given us a lesson in partisan peacocking or shown that he has no regard for due process under the law.

Malloy announced his intention to use terrorist watch lists to screen gun buyers, it remains unclear how his executive powers would allow him to unilaterally alter criteria set by state law. Governors, who typically control state police, should take the lead in prosecuting when prohibited individuals attempt to buy guns and fail background checks.

The office of Attorney General George Jepsen said Tuesday that no one has asked for a formal or informal opinion about whether Malloy could change the background checks by issuing an executive order Malloy, his general counsel and his communication staff have not provided a detailed rationale of the legal basis for his proposal, while repeatedly asserting the governor has the authority, once federal officials sign off on using the data. “Coupled with federal approval, we know we have the ability under existing state law to direct DESPP to deny permits to those seeking firearms,” said Devon Puglia, his communication director. Chris Christie, people buying guns or applying for a firearm permit in New Jersey can be blocked as part of the routine criminal history check, conducted through the National Crime Information Center. They should require state and local law-enforcement to systematically track all guns used in crimes — and use the data to identify the largest sources of crime-enabling guns in their states. Over all, less than 5 percent of gun homicides between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people with diagnoses of mental illness, according to a public health study published this year. The chief spokesman for the New Jersey State Police says his department’s firearms unit is able to run names against the watch lists through NICs, the National Instant Criminal Background Check system created by the FBI in 1998.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the LA Times, both far to the left of my worldview, have responded in print and in court to the no-fly list and the infringement of Americans second and fourteenth amendment rights supported by Obama and Malloy. Through pension divestment and state purchasing power, they should pressure gun manufacturers into cutting off sales to bad-actor dealers whose weapons are likely to land in the hands of criminals. State executives — such as governors, attorneys general, law enforcement leaders, and mayors — have a substantial opportunity to use their existing authority to implement smart policies, programs, and regulations that would have a significant impact in reducing gun violence and saving lives. In June 2010, the ACLU filed suit on behalf of 10 U.S. citizens and permanent residents who the government banned from flying to or from the U.S. or over American airspace. (Three more people joined the suit later.) Those 13 people, which included four military veterans, were never told why they were on the list or given a reasonable opportunity to get off it.

Estimates of the percentage of mass shooters who are mentally ill vary widely, as both “mass shooting” and “mental illness” can be difficult to define. Some of the strategies include background checks for all private sales at gun shows on publically-owned property and divesting public funds from gun manufacturers that don’t adopt so-called best practices. Another analysis, by the group Everytown For Gun Safety, found that in about 11 percent of shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 in which four or more people were killed, concerns about the killer’s mental health had been reported to a doctor or other authority before the crime took place. Cuomo, a stalwart crusader, is pressing the feds to add the terror watchlist to their federal background check so that New York, at least, can ban would-be terrorists from getting weapons. In recent years, many more states have made an effort to submit such records to the federal system; the number in the databank has more than doubled since the 2012 mass shooting at a school in Newtown, Conn.

The state police are the sole issuing authority for certificates of eligibility, which allow the holder to purchase a firearm and possess it in their home or place of business. There is a whole bunch of reasons for that, not the least of which is every Republican who serves is afraid of a challenge from the right, and why would you stick your finger in the eye of the NRA? Supreme Court.” The terror watch list, a database maintained by the FBI’s Terrorist Screening Center, had about 480,000 names on it in 2011, and it has since grown to about 1.1 million names, according to the ACLU. Meanwhile, President Obama has likewise indicated that he is considering a number of new federal executive actions on guns, including one that would expand background checks on gun sales.

Momentum to take serious action to reduce gun violence continues to build, and the groundswell of support and activism on this issue in communities across the country is stronger than ever. California, for instance, bars those who have been involuntarily hospitalized for a short time from owning guns for five years, even if they were not committed. In the 10 years after Connecticut passed a “permit to purchase” law requiring would-be gun buyers to pass a background check and complete a gun safety course with a certified instructor, gun homicides in the state fell by 40 percent. That gives us pause.” However, Malloy is trying to sell us on the idea that these concerns are unfounded because anyone on these lists that can’t legally buy a firearm can appeal that decision to the State Board of Firearms Permit Examiners. Thirdly, a decision barring an individual from exercising a constitutional right based not on a criminal conviction, but by mere suspicion, is turning the law on its head by presuming a citizen to be guilty until proven innocent.

A version of this editorial appears in print on December 16, 2015, on page A34 of the New York edition with the headline: Mental Illness and Gun Violence . Jeff Klein, a Democrat, said the bill would amend New York law to ban anyone “on the FBI’s terrorist screening database or federal no fly list from obtaining a New York State issued gun license.” New York Gov.

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