I’ve written a few things about mental health in the past, particularly as it relates to guns. I’ve seen far too many take their own lives and I’ve seen too many people have their lives taken from them by people with clear mental illnesses.
So I’m not exactly ignorant about this.
This means I am really interested in what just happened in Texas.
Legislation to require courts to send mental health and intellectual disability information to the government agency that does criminal background checks for gun purchasers has cleared both houses of the Texas Legislature and is on its way to Gov. Greg Abbott for final approval.
Senate Bill 728 enjoyed broad bipartisan support and is likely the only gun safety measure this year with a chance of being enacted in the first legislative session since last year’s mass shooting in a Uvalde elementary school that left 19 children and two teachers dead.
But the House sponsor of the bill emphasized that the measure is not intended to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners.
“This bill is a response to much of the gun violence we’ve seen in our state in recent years,” state Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano, told the lower chamber on Wednesday. “I want to make very clear, members, this bill does not … change any existing federal or state law regarding firearms.”
I’m not going to lie, I was concerned a bit about the bill. After all, the idea of mental health information being forwarded to various branches of the government is more than a little concerning, especially since most who suffer from mental illness aren’t actually dangerous.
Luckily, that’s a very watered-down description of what the bill does.
Instead of just sending everyone’s medical records to state authorities, it deals with those who have been determined to be so far gone that they’re not responsible for their own actions.
To use the term we see in federal law, it simply relays that the individual has been “adjudicated as mentally defective.”
All the bill really does is make sure that information makes it to NICS and also includes those as young as 16 in the effort.
No one is going to go to the doctor for seasonal depression and suddenly be prohibited from buying a gun. At least, not with this bill.
I’m not saying people shouldn’t be skeptical–if you trust your government after the news of the last week, you’re too trusting by far–but from my admittedly layman’s reading of the bill, this isn’t something that will make the anti-gunners overly happy.
This isn’t any of the stuff they wanted after Uvalde.
Sure, they’ll take it, but it’s not any of the stuff they desperately wanted. It’s also not likely to stop another mass shooting in the state. Most of those who commit such atrocities may have diagnosed mental health issues, but they’re not people who are legally barred from buying a gun at 16 but slip through the cracks at 18.
So don’t expect anything to happen in Texas as a result of this.