Marion Hammer’s been lobbying on behalf of the National Rifle Association for donkey’s years. The last time we heard from the former NRA Prez was April 2011. The cat fancier was explaining why it was OK for the Gunshine State to ban doctors from asking their patients about their firearms. TTAG thought that was a really dumb and insidious idea; the government has no business interfering with doctor – patient communications. Marion & Co. eventually lost that one in the courts. And now she’s back, backing another Big Brother-boosting bill: HB1355, Protection of Vulnerable Persons . . .
The premise of the bill is relatively simple. It would extend a ban on purchasing firearms to people who voluntarily seek mental health treatment after being examined under Florida’s Baker Act statutes. The Baker Act applies to people deemed a danger to themselves or others.
Under current law, people involuntarily committed to treatment are prohibited from purchasing a firearm, but those who volunteer are not.
Volunteering for treatment is more common. Miami-Dade County Court Judge Steve Leifman told the Herald/Times that only 1 percent of the 115,000 people processed under the Baker Act last year were involuntarily committed.
The other 99 percent voluntarily submitted to treatment, which means they could purchase guns upon their release.
Marion Hammer’s all for Florida Governor Rick Scott to sign HB1355 into law. No surprise there. The NRA helped craft the legislation. Here’s their case for passage:
Currently, people being held in a mental health facility under a Baker Act Commitment and who are subsequently determined to be a danger to themselves or others, may voluntarily agree to be committed for treatment to avoid going to court.
If they don’t voluntarily agree to treatment, a petition is then filed for a court hearing for involuntary commitment. When a court orders a commitment, the person’s name is entered into the National Instant Check System (NICS) database of people who are prohibited from purchasing firearms. If they voluntarily agree to commitment their names are NOT entered in to the database.
Fair enough, right? Other than a vague whiff of coercion. Anyway, here’s the tricky bit:
Under HB-1355, people in this category may still agree to voluntary commitment for treatment, but they would be informed (and must sign a statement acknowledging that they have been informed) that because they are deemed to be dangerous, their names will be entered into the NICS database until they have had treatment and are no longer considered a danger to themselves or others and may apply to have their names removed from the database. The process for removing a name from the database is exactly the same as already prescribed in law for those who have been involuntarily committed for treatment.
If the person disagrees or feels strongly about not giving up his gun rights, the person can refuse voluntary commitment and a petition for involuntary commitment would move ahead through the full court process, in which the person has the opportunity to fight it in court.
So, under the new bill, if you agree to treatment/continued commitment you agree to give up your gun rights. If you don’t they take you to court and . . . take away your gun rights.
And then, later, you can have your natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms restored. By the State and then the FBI. In theory. In practice, highly doubtful.
The National Association of Gun Rights and the Gun Owners of America aren’t happy about HB1355. They’ve sent email blasts urging The People of the Gun to express their desire for a veto. Marion’s fighting back, tooth and nail. She reckons . . .
Gun owners are being deceived by reckless people who are sending out email blasts attacking the bill as being anti-Second Amendment . . .
“These are not organizations that are here on the ground, working the issue,” said Hammer, who worked with the bill’s sponsors during the legislative session. “They are full of disinformation designed to inflame and upset people and help them raise money.” . . .
“All it does is stop people who are a danger to themselves or others from being able to buy a gun,” she said.
‘Cause the NRA would never inflame people to raise money. That aside, what could possibly go wrong? The history of the Soviet Union is our guide.
The basic problem here is not the bill’s language. It’s Marion and the NRA’s assumption that the State-fed, federally-administered NICS is an effective system for stopping mentally deranged people from gaining access to firearms and committing heinous crimes with same.
It isn’t. The sooner Marion’s mob accepts that fact, the safer we’ll all be. Really.