Mother Jones Seemingly Defends Gun Rights

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

Mother Jones isn't exactly a publication that's going to be aligned with the NRA or GOA anytime soon. They're a left-leaning publication with a long history of anti-gun advocacy. The writers and editors favor gun control and that's not likely to change anytime soon.

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Or, at least, it wouldn't have were it not for Hunter Biden.

The presidents last living son has a long and sordid history with drugs, prostitutes, firearms, and pretty much anything else we might think of as sinful. In particular, he purchased a firearm at the same time he admits to using elicit drugs, something one is asked on the Form 4473.

That landed him in hot water.

So now Mother Jones seems to be asking some interesting questions about gun rights, and not whether they should vanish entirely.

On June 3, jury selection for the federal trial of President Joe Biden’s son Hunter on gun charges is expected to begin. Hunter Biden allegedly lied about past drug use when purchasing a gun in 2018, during a period in which he has since shared that he was struggling with crack cocaine addiction. He has pleaded not guilty.

The debate around gun control and mental health is very heated in the US, especially in conversations about mass shootings. Research does show that there is no link between mental illness and mass shootings, but gun-related suicides are on the rise, especially among men.

Biden’s case opens the question of whether and when someone with a history of mental illness, including addiction, should have their Second Amendment rights taken away. A fairly recent federal court ruling, Tyler v. Hillsdale County Sheriff’s Department, could offer some insight.

In 2016, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, which generally covers the Midwest, ruled that someone who has been “adjudicated intellectually disabled” or “committed to a mental institution” couldn’t be barred outright from owning guns on those grounds alone. The case surrounded a Michigan man, Clifford Tyler, who was permanently barred from owning a gun because he had been institutionalized once, 25 years prior, for suicidal ideation.

I spoke with Dr. Paul Appelbaum, Columbia University’s Elizabeth K. Dollard Professor of Psychiatry, Medicine and Law, and former president of the American Psychiatric Association, about the Tyler decision, Biden’s case, and psychiatric ethical dilemmas at the intersection of gun ownership and mental illness.

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Now, it should be noted that the author keeps essentially conflating Hunter's issues with those of Clifford Tyler because drug addiction is considered a mental illness.

There's a key difference, though. Tyler was suicidal and was involuntarily admitted for treatment. Hunter was a drug addict. While addiction is a mental health issue, drug addiction involves a criminal act, thus differentiating it from what caused Tyler to lose his gun rights.

I'm not saying it's right. I'm just saying it's different.

Had Hunter been an alcoholic, for example, there wouldn't have been an issue in the first place. While we can argue that someone regularly under the influence of alcohol may not be a responsible gun owner, there are no laws prohibiting one from obtaining, possessing, or consuming alcohol and thus no criminality involved in being an alcoholic.

Again, it's different.

Yet the interesting thing here is that at no point does Mother Jones try to frame the stripping of gun rights due to mental illness as a good thing in general. While I'm sure they still favor some people being stripped of those rights--those who represent a threat to others, for example--here the truth is that they're not favoring restrictions.

It's almost like Mother Jones suddenly realized the right to keep and bear arms matters simply because this president's son is the one in hot water.

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Somehow, if it were Donald Trump, Jr. in hot water, I doubt they'd be so understanding.

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