The Washington Post is really getting on my tits (as the Brits are wont to say). The paper that once defined journalistic excellence is once again forgetting the basic principles of objective reporting or editorial balance. Case in point: the paper’s coverage of the so-called Safeway Massacre. “Arizona gun laws, which have been criticized by gun-control groups, permit any law-abiding resident older than 18 to buy or possess a firearm,” the Post tells its readers, trying to link the murders to Arizona’s “lax” gun laws. “To buy a handgun, as opposed to a rifle or shotgun, federal law requires the buyer to be at least 21.” Hello? Laughner’s 22. And the Post knows it—though they somehow forget to mention it. Deep breath . . .
There’s plenty more misleading information and pro-gun control spinnery pokery where that came from. For example, guys, not all guns traced by the ATF were involved in actual crimes. And tagging on a quote from the NRA at the end of every gun-related story does not absolve you from a responsibility to tell both sides of the story in a full, frank and fair manner.
So here’s the wider question: given that Laughner qualified for a gun under the provisions established by the Brady Law, what regulation or regulations could have stopped him from committing his heinous crime? Here’s one suggestion from (you guessed it) The Huffington Post:
The easiest way to prevent psychotics from obtaining guns, in a manner that is low-cost, constitutional and minimally infringes upon the prerogatives of law-abiding gun owners, is to require a brief psychiatric examination and a prescription in order to purchase a gun . . .
A prescription requirement need not be onerous. Requiring a brief psychiatric check up prior to issuing a gun license, and possibly a renewal every fixed number of years, could be done in a manner to impinge only minimally upon the activities of psychiatrically healthy gun owners. While mental health remains in some respects a nuanced art, it does not require great psychiatric acumen or years of Freudian analysis to determine that a man like Jared Loughner ought not to be packing heat. In states with significant gun-owning populations, mental health workers might even be employed by the state to conduct such screenings on-site . . .
With time, gun owners would surely come to see such screenings as routine — like annual car inspections — and the massacres prevented might change public perceptions regarding lawful gun ownership.
What a bizarre idea: letting the generally anti-gun mental health profession decide who gets to exercise their constitutional right based on criteria they devise. Catch-22 much? Even if there was a mental health check for gun owners, how would such a process prevent a disturbed person from acquiring a gun illegally. And how do you count prevented massacres?
Anyway, what else you got? Seriously. I’m all ears.