The forces of gun control never rest in the Golden State. There are always more taxes, more regulations, more restrictions that can and must be enacted in order to further limit Californians’ right to keep and bear arms. Along those lines, the Sacramento Bee has published a list of five pending gun control bills to keep an eye on before the legislature adjourns at the end of the month.
▪ SB 1100, by Portantino, raises the age to purchase all legal firearms from 18 to 21. Californians are already barred from purchasing handguns until age 21.
▪ SB 1177, also from Portantino, places new restrictions on gun purchases and bans anyone — with the exception of law enforcement and licensed gun dealers — from applying to buy more than one firearm in 30 days. Existing law prohibits anyone from applying to purchase more than one handgun in 30 days.
▪ AB 1968 by Assemblyman Evan Low, D-Campbell, establishes a lifetime ban on gun ownership for anyone who is involuntarily admitted to a facility for a mental health disorder, and considered a danger to themselves or others, more than once in a year.
▪ AB 2888, introduced by Assemblyman Phil Ting, D-San Francisco, allows co-workers, employers, high schools and colleges to request a gun violence restraining order against employees or students who attended in the last six months. Currently only family members and law enforcement can pursue a gun violence restraining order against someone. If granted, the individual’s guns would be temporarily seized and they would be banned from purchasing new firearms.
▪ AB 3129 by Assemblywoman Blanca Rubio, D-Baldwin Park, creates a lifetime ban on gun ownership for anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence. The bill applies only to convictions on or after Jan. 1, 2019, and is not retroactive to prior misdemeanor offenses.
Our friends at the American Civil Liberties Union have always had a difficult time acknowledging the existence, let alone the legitimacy of the Bill of Rights’ second entry. In fact, for all intents and purposes, the ACLU officially abandoned the right to keep and bear arms as a constitutionally protected freedom to be defended back in March with this policy statement.
So imagine our surprise when we read that . . .
The ACLU is not against the bill that raises the age limit to purchase firearms, but does find problems with imposing restrictions based on mental health.
“This bill stigmatizes people with a history of mental health issues, and perpetuates the harmful and false stereotype that such people are inherently violent and dangerous,” the organization wrote in an opposition letter to the author’s office.
True enough. As the ACLU correctly points out, lumping all individuals with a diagnosed mental illness into a single classification of potentially dangerous people is not only lazy, but it also isn’t borne out by the evidence.
As Duke University’s Professor Jeffrey Swanson pointed out, people with diagnosed mental illnesses are, statistically speaking, no more dangerous than the rest of the population.
Research on the relationship between gun violence and mental illness shows that the vast majority of mentally ill individuals are not violent or suicidal. Our group at Duke recently published a study of approximately 82,000 people diagnosed with serious mental illnesses in Florida between 2002 and 2011. We found that those with serious mental health disorders with records in the public behavioral health system were no more likely than the general adult population in Florida to use a gun to harm others (about 213 vs. 217 gun crimes per 100,000 people per year), and they were only slightly more likely to die in a gun-related suicide (about 13 vs. 9 gun suicides per 100,000 people per year). Thus, people with mental illnesses are no more dangerous to others when they have equal access to guns.
Having the ACLU come out against even this one infringement on the 2A should be seen as the small victory that it is. The fact that they’re only opposing a proposed gun control measure because it happens to adversely impact an often stigmatized, misunderstood minority of the population is probably just a happy coincidence.