A couple of days ago, Pat Richardson wrote about HR 127 by Rep. Shiela Jackson Lee. He outlines some of the more egregious parts of this bill, and I agree with him.
However, I wanted to take a few moments to talk about the licensing portion of that bill. In particular, this requirement:
Now, the idea of psychological evaluations is common among those who don’t really ascribe to the absolutist view of the Second Amendment. I get it. After all, if the problem is deranged people getting guns, why not evaluate people before letting them buy guns to make sure they’re not deranged?
It sounds like a hell of an idea if you don’t know any better.
The truth, though, is that it’s a trainwreck. That’s especially true the way this one is structured.
First, let’s look at the attorney general deciding what the evaluation process is. This is an attorney deciding how a psychologist is supposed to do their job. Nevermind that between that and needing approval by the AG, it’s possible to create a system where absolutely no one can get a gun, ever. Hell, just by not approving any psychologists, the AG could bar anyone from buying a gun.
Sure, that would spark some legal action and he or she would eventually have to approve some, but it could still create an unconstitutional backlog.
Yet even if you took all of this out of the equation, psychological evaluations are still a non-starter for the gun rights crowd.
At that point, you’re putting the determination of who can exercise a constitutional right in the hands of individuals. That means these are people who have their own biases and hangups. Some of these people think anyone who wants a gun is psychologically unsound.
Look, we have mechanisms in place already to deal with people who are psychologically unsound. That’s by people noticing others are unsound and availing themselves of the system and have mentally unbalanced people adjudicated. If they’re not so bad off as to warrant that, then great. Stop trying to disarm people, then.
But telling us we need to sit down with a psychologist in order to determine that we’re somehow fit to exercise our rights isn’t going to fly. We don’t do that with any other right, nor should we. We don’t evaluate someone’s mental state before they begin preaching–and when you think about things like Jonestown, there’s reason to be concerned–nor do we evaluate them before we allow them on the internet where they can spread whatever bizarre conspiracy theories or hateful rhetoric they want.
Yet arguably, those create more problems than lawfully purchased firearms ever would.
So yeah, mental health evaluations aren’t going to fly with the gun rights crowd. They never will, even if they would actually work (spoiler, though: They won’t!), because we’re tired of seeing the Second Amendment being treated as a second class right.