Responding to the prevailing wind of “do something-ness” howling up from South Florida, President Trump has lofted a trial balloon. Or trial medicine ball, depending upon your point of view.
I will be strongly pushing Comprehensive Background Checks with an emphasis on Mental Health. Raise age to 21 and end sale of Bump Stocks! Congress is in a mood to finally do something on this issue – I hope!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 22, 2018
To be charitable, these are some dumb ideas.
I don’t even know how you do a “comprehensive background check” is? Is it more than National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)? Is it like an Entrance National Agency Check (ENTNAC)? If it is more like the latter than the former, who pays for it? The current problem is not with the background check being insufficiently comprehensive. To the extent that background checks are even a factor they are because reporting agencies aren’t sending data to NICS (Sutherland Springs) or the processing agency isn’t updating the file (Dylan Roof).
Why an emphasis on Mental Health? Long ago, getting venereal disease in the military was a court-martial offense. If you got the clap you also lost stripes and got fined. Guess what happened? No one sought treatment for VD until it was well advanced. Some bright guy decided why punish rather than focus on treatment? In order to get mental health information other than court-ordered commitment records, requires the government to be able to search your medical records. Fortunately, that is illegal under HIPAA but that can always change. Which mental issues are we going to look at? Autism spectrum? Eating disorders? Anxiety disorder? Megalomania? Mild paranoia? Who decides what is a barrier to firearms ownership because there are no clinical tests for mental health. It is all the opinion of the practitioner. And what about the guy he decides to not seek treatment for mental health issues because he doesn’t want to end up in some federal database that will flag him for the rest of his life? How is any of this a good idea?
Why 21? This is the dumbest part.
Since the 1966 shooting at the University of Texas, an incident which many believe touched off the modern phenomenon of mass shootings (defined as a public shooting in which 4 or more people were killed), there have been 150 shootings involving 153 individuals, according to a detailed database published by the Washington Post. Of those, 150 were men, and the ages of 148 of them are known.
The average of those male mass shooters is just over 33 years old. While media coverage of these shootings can often give the impression that they are committed primarily by young men in their late teens or twenties, the data show otherwise. In fact, 55 percent of all public mass shootings in the U.S. since 1966 have been committed by men who were at least 30 years old. The deadliest mass shooting in American history, which occurred in Las Vegas in 2017, was perpetrated by a 64-year-old man. Forty-one percent of shootings, according to data from The Washington Post, were committed by men between the ages of 18 and 29 (4 percent were committed by those younger than 18).
Hard to believe the same people that think this is a good idea also believe 16-year-olds should be allowed to vote:
Lower the voting age to 16.
— Jon Lovett (@jonlovett) February 22, 2018
I have a better idea. Why not raise the voting age to 21 and lower the age for buying beer and firearms, of all types, to 18. The idea that you can vote and get your ass shot off in Afghanistan at 18 but are too immature to own a rifle and drink until you are 21 is truly bizarre.
Bump stocks? WTF?
I really don’t care about bump stocks. But anything you can make on a 3-D printer is going to be damned hard to outlaw. And defining it so it doesn’t make felons of people you don’t want to make felons of is going to be real hard:
With this, as with evading the assault weapon ban, you are just creating an engineering challenge to be overcome.
There are people claiming that Trump is going to go to war with the NRA over this. Not hardly. Trump and his political team know that this will burn itself out and they know they need the NRA.
Red state Democrats aren’t going to fight the NRA this November. Jim Jordan has said gun control is going nowhere without concealed carry reciprocity. And I don’t take these ideas as being all that serious. I think Chris Hayes may have it right:
Prediction: the president will approach gun safety legislation the same way he has approached DACA. He will lie about what his own position is and attempt to blame others for nothing getting done.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 21, 2018