The weeping wailers are at it again, this time in Oregon, passing laws intended to show their “compassion” and “concern” for those suffering from acute depression. Did they increase the number of mental health beds available in the state? Nope. Perhaps they increased funding to suicide and depression hotlines or approved more spending for outreach efforts and advertising? As if.
According to this article at kgw.com instead of attempting something that might be useful, the Oregon Senate has chosen to demonize guns by passing a bill ensuring that:
Oregonians worried about a loved one committing suicide or hurting someone with a gun should have legal recourse to get firearms out of that person’s hands.
On the surface that sounds almost reasonable. Almost. But, as the saying goes, the devil is in the details, and this bill (sponsored by longtime anti-gun Senate Majority Leader Ginny Burdick (above) and grieving father Sen. Brian Boquist) has some downright diabolical details.
Let’s start off with their definition of “loved one” shall we?
“Family or household member” means a spouse, intimate partner, mother, father, child or sibling of the respondent, or any person living within the same household as the respondent.
That sounds sort of reasonable, right? I mean if your pacifist Buddhist sister who lives over 1,000 miles is afraid that you might hurt yourself or someone else, she should get a veto on your natural, fundamental, and inalienable, human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of your choice, right?
Or how about that (former) “intimate partner” who’s still ticked off at you for that thing you did in Vegas with her sister and and her best friend. Surely she should have the ability to trump your civil rights. Right?
Better still, how about that estranged husband who keeps dropping by to kick in your door and beat the tar out of you. I’m sure he would have reason to be concerned that you might “hurt someone” (like him) if you are allowed to keep your gun.
But wait, it gets better, because it isn’t just ‘family or household members’ who can request this “extreme risk protection order” (and we’ll get back to that “extreme risk” part in a bit). According to Section 2.(1)A of the bill:
A law enforcement officer or a family or household member of a person may file a petition requesting that the court issue an extreme risk protection order … [emphasis added]
Surely that’s okay, right? Because in this country you can’t be stripped of your rights without the chance to defend yourself, can you? Ha!
Once a petition is filed, the court is required to issue or deny it that same day or the next “judicial business day.” As for getting to tell your side of the story, Section 2.(3) states:
The petition for an extreme risk protection order must be supported by a written affidavit signed by the petitioner under oath, or an oral statement taken under oath by the petitioner or any other witness the petitioner may produce.
Hmmm, I don’t see anything in there about how the respondent must be represented, but they can’t just take your rights away for a trivial reason. Can they?
Section 2.(4)(a-h) lists all the bad things you need to do for the court to consider yourself at risk. As you might expect, the list includes suicide attempts and threats, domestic violence, drug abuse, assaults and so forth. Then all the way down, near the very bottom is the kicker:
(g) Evidence of an acquisition or attempted acquisition within the previous 180 days by the respondent of a deadly weapon
You got that? If, within the previous six months you have attempted to exercise your natural, fundamental, and inalienable, human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to lawfully purchase, a lawful product, that constitutes cause to remove said natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right.
Finally there is no discretion on the part of the court:
(6)(a) The court shall issue an extreme risk protection order if the court finds … that the respondent presents a risk in the near future, including an imminent risk, of suicide or of causing physical injury to another person … [emphasis added]
So if the respondent is at such “extreme risk,” the court will get them help. Right? Provide referrals to mental health services, possibly arrange for treatment, you know…in general offer support to this person who is so clearly in need of help?
Nope. This person — the one everyone is so concerned about — has to give up their guns, but the bill has no provisions for providing any sort of mental health care to this “extreme risk” person.
That’s OK though, because everyone knows that most suicides are caused by guns, right? I mean the article even says:
Suicides-by-firearms vastly outnumbered homicides committed with guns in Oregon in 2015 … That year almost 77 percent of gun deaths in Oregon were suicides, and 19.5 percent were homicides …
Well there you have it. Although, I wonder just how many non-firearm related suicides were there in Oregon in 2015. It must not be very many, otherwise the legislators wouldn’t be so concerned about guns, would they?
Let’s go to the CDC’s WISQARS Fatal Injury Reports page, agree to their Data Use Restrictions so we can look at state-level data and check the suicide rates in Oregon in 2015. We find that there were (as the article states later) 373 firearm-related suicides. Unfortunately nothing in the article gives you any clue as to total number of suicides for the state.
Fortunately the WISQARS website makes that information readily available. In 2015, in the state of Oregon, there were 389 non-firearm-related suicides, so 51.05% of suicides did not involve the use guns. This is hardly an anomaly; from 2006 – 2015 53.3% of suicides in Oregon involved guns, meaning that 46.7% of suicides did not.
So instead of doing something which could help all Oregonians at risk for suicide — something like passing legislation to somehow improve access to mental health care services — the Oregon Senate has chosen to stigmatize guns. That will make it even less likely that someone who owns firearms will risk losing them by reaching out for help to those state-defined “loved ones” who might be in the best position to provide it.
 Please note that as a good libertarian I believe that taxes are theft, and the nanny-state has no business providing “free” healthcare or mental health care; these examples are *not* suggestions.