“Mentally ill Oklahomans are buying guns and there is little gun shop owners can do to stop them”

Well duh. What are they supposed to do, give them a psych exam? And if they did, where would you draw the line between “normal” and “mentally ill”? Did you know that some 17 million Americans take prescription anti-depressants? Do we ban all of them from gun ownership? In fact, where’s the evidence that this is a problem? I mean specifically this: law-abiding citizens with mental health “issues” buying guns and using them to commit a crime? Yes, I know: Jared Lee Loughner. But . . .

Jared Lee Loughner was the exception that proves the rule: an armed anomaly whose anomalous nature made him the subject of enormous media attention. I mean, if crazy people with legally obtained guns was a big issue, Loughner’s rampage would have been just another day at the office. Pity the poor gun dealers [via newson6.com]:

The federal registry is part of the criminal background check buyers go through when purchasing a gun. There is a box on the form  to check that asks if the buyer is mentally ill, but gun sellers have no way to confirm whether a person is mentally ill or not.

Employees at H & H Gun Range in Oklahoma City said their hands are tied. They would like to follow the federal law, but Oklahoma has not provided names to the registry because of patient confidentiality.

“We are not medical doctors and we cannot make a determination just on a simple interview when someone comes in to purchase a firearm,” said Trent Painter, H & H Gun Range employee . . .

Gun owners do not want mentally unstable people to have guns, but also don’t want their medical records accessed.

“Our privacy is already getting invaded a lot already and would be awful having it invaded even more. But it’s one of those balancing acts where there has to be some give and take,” said Emily, who owns a gun.

Says who? If someone’s truly nuts, would a denial at a gun store really stop them from murderous mayhem? Of course not. The security theater is now open for business.

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

22 Responses to “Mentally ill Oklahomans are buying guns and there is little gun shop owners can do to stop them”

  1. The antis don’t care how they get them !! They just want to get’em all!!

  2. avatar2yellowdogs says:

    Has anyone who advocates this kind of registry actually proposed how it would work in the real world? Do they really expect people who are truly mentally ill (the Jared Lee Loughners of the world) to check the “yes, I’m a wack-o” box? Will FFLs soon be required to enroll in basic psychology courses?

    This is idiocy on a stratospheric scale. As RF said, it’s more security theater, not designed to actually reduce the likelihood of another Lougher-like incident, but to make those who dreamed this up feel like they’ve really done something.

    • Isn’t the idea that states will better report their mental cases to the NICS. Then when conducting the standard background check, the FFL guy would have to disqualify them just like he does the felons.

      The only “idiocy on a stratospheric scale” was your trying to say it’s supposed to be based on the honor system.

      Robert asked a good question, where do you draw the line. But we’d all be better off if the line were drawn to exclude at least the worst of the worst. Don’t you think?

  3. avatarstateisevil says:

    Angry, tired, upset,drunk, and otherwise distracted people are getting behind the wheel of 2,000 lb vehicles killing hundreds of thousands of more people than guns and there is little we can do to stop them.

  4. avatarRalph says:

    In Oklahoma, the mentally ill buy guns. In New York City, the mentally ill get elected Mayor. It’s a Red State/Blue State thing.

  5. avatarNCG says:

    Mental health care is a serious issue in this country. It’s hard to get, a lot of insurance doesn’t cover it, and it’s stigmatized. On the one hand, you have the stupidity of combat vets being denied their gun rights because they’ve sought help for psychological issues (the DOJ and the VA have been woefully slow in dealing with this), and at the other end of the spectrum, you’ve got the very rare crazy like Loughner, who showed every imaginable warning sign.

    Only recently has the FAA eased up on banning commercial pilots from taking anti depressants. Would you rather have a clinically depressed pilot, or one that was dealing with her issues and taking her meds? Same with vets – I’d much rather vets get the help they need, rather than turning to alcohol or other drugs, as far too many do, sometimes with tragic consequences. Punishing vets (or anyone) for seeking help with mental health issues is plain stupid.

    I have a couple of friends with pretty serious mental illness. One guy chooses not to own a firearm, although he likes to shoot. But if people get the treatment they need (which usually falls well short of being institutionalized), they can function just fine in society. It’s the untreated people we need to worry about. With proper care and medication, Loughner may have been just another slightly weird, harmless citizen.

    And medical privacy does have limits. If a guy tells his shrink he’s planning to hurt himself or someone else, the shrink has an obligation to report it.

    That’s my bleeding heart liberal/gun rights advocate take on the matter.

  6. avatartype2camper says:

    Much of the gun control [safety] argument feels a lot like what TSA does. One guy gets bad chemicals on a plane so now I can’t bring on a bottle of water. One guy tries to blow up his shoe and now I need to take mine off and have them X-rayed. The few hurt the many and we all give up that inch of freedom to gain a little more “security.” There’s a big camel creeping into the tent and sometimes it seems impossible to stop.

    • avatarNCG says:

      The ratchet effect. Any “security” measure, no matter how asinine, is never repealed, because nobody wants to be the person that repealed it. You think anybody will ever hijack a plane with one of those executive size 1.5″ Swiss Army knives? “Passengers take action to thwart hijacking, details at 11…”

  7. avatarJBS says:

    “Mentally ill” is too encompassing. There are many possible diagnosis of mental conditions. Which are strongly related to violent behavior? Suppose someone with a diagnosis of hoplonphobia has a 5% chance of committing some violent act over the next 5 years. Shall we deprive all 100% of their liberty permanently? What if its 50/50?

  8. avatarJeff O. says:

    Security Theatre: My most favorite term EVER.

    • avatarNCG says:

      FYI, a lot of us on the Left have been using that term for quite a while. It’s totally appropriate. The whole TSA thing is a joke. Not sure what the punchline is. My personal theory is that it’s training us to submit to government inspection if we want to travel. Not sure if I should put on my right or left tinfoil hat for that, but whatever. For the record, that whole cancer did metastasize during the Bush administration.

      • avatarJeff O. says:

        Oh yeah, the term has been around for a long while.

        I just love it.

      • avatarA Critic says:

        My personal theory is that it’s training us to submit to government inspection if we want to travel.

        There are already government inspections for travel. That’s why you need a permission slip for yourself when you drive, plus another permission slip for your car, one for your finances (i.e. proof of insurance, which allegedly is to prove financial responsibility by showing you give money to the most financially irresponsible people around), et cetera.

        The TSA is training you to be used to being treated like sheep being “processed”.

  9. I was going to point out that mentally ill people are running for office and serving in government, but @Ralph beat me to it. :)

    I’ve always thought it was funny that we’re supposed to get worked up over medicated gun owners (or any drug use in the private workplace), why do we allow people who take psychoactive drugs to hold office? They draft, interpret, and execute laws. That’s way more dangerous than private gun ownership. Let’s start testing them and removing them from office.

    And of course, we have to be careful that the state doesn’t expand the definition of ‘mental illness’ so broadly that almost everyone is disqualified from gun ownership. Scope creep, people, scope creep.

  10. avatarA Critic says:

    “Mentally ill Oklahomans are buying guns and there is little gun shop owners can do to stop them”

    Oh my! Just think of those crazy people with OCD “Is the safety on?” (looks down and sees the safety on) “Is the safety on?” (looks down and sees the safety on) “Is the safety on?” (looks down and sees the safety on) “Is the safety on?” (looks down and sees the safety on) “Is the safety on?” (looks down and sees the safety on)

    Or think of those madmen with dissociative identity disorder (commonly called multiple personality disorder) who have the fascinating symptom of “hyper vigilance”. One of my favorite psych stories was about a man with DID who would go armed with a gun and follow young women at night, not to do them harm, but in case somebody tried to harm the young women. Eventually one night a man attacked one of the women under surveillance and the crazy man with a gun sprung out of nowhere and saved her.

    But we can’t let crazy people arm themselves…even if they are safer than ordinary citizens. They might not fear and obey the state and we can’t permit that.

  11. avatarVoI says:

    If you must pass a mental test for your 2A right, shouldn’t you pass one for your 1st amendment right too ?

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