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By Colby Clark

Freshman, Auburn

Requiring new mental health checks to purchase firearms is an ignorant form of gun control legislation. This is a measure that would affect millions of Americans according to Johns Hopkins. They write, “an estimated 26% of Americans ages 18 and older — about 1 in 4 adults — suffers from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.” In addition, these types of laws already exist in many states and on the federal level. Federal law bans those who have “been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution” from owning firearms. Someone that is mentally defective is decided by a court who believes they are a danger to themself or others. Legislating beyond what is already on the books may win political points within certain partisan circles, but it will not save lives like it is supposed to.

 

Most Americans with mental health issues are able to own firearms while not being a danger to themselves or others. In fact, most people with mental health problems have the same violence rate as anyone else. Only 3%-5% of violent acts are committed by those with a serious mental illness, and they are 10 times more likely to be a victim than an attacker. Take Thom Dunn for example. He wonders why “a peaceful and responsible person who happens to have a weird brain, have less of a right to protect themselves than, say, someone with a history of domestic violence?” To further restrict those just because they have a weird brain should never be allowed as it is not what America is all about. Nothing is black and white and no two Americans with mental illnesses are the same; unless someone could predict how each individual mentally ill person will act in the future— which is self-evidently impossible — this legislation is not only ineffective but dangerous. This would not only be dangerous because it would strip law-abiding citizens of their right to bear arms, but it would also lay the groundwork for potentially more second amendment infringements.

 

This is not the first push for unwarranted gun control and it certainly will not be the last. Looking over the years, gun control measures have been enacted or proposed for different reasons depending on the tragedy that motivated them. When tragedy strikes, anti-gun talking points will inevitably be pushed out through the media. New mental health checks are not new, but rather a recycled response to a gun violence tragedy. While mental illness is a real issue in America, it should be separated from gun issues. Statistics show that those affected by mental health issues are no less capable of taking another human life with a firearm than any other American, setting aside those with serious problems that are already addressed under our current laws. The Second Amendment is something to be protected, not restricted: the more restrictions we put on our Constitutional right to keep and bear arms, the less free we are as American citizens.

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