Last Thursday, this column predicted that with the Washington Navy Yard shooting providing no help to those hoping to exploit it to justify banning so-called "assault weapons" and "high capacity" magazines (the shooter brought neither to his atrocity), or requiring "universal background checks" (the shooter passed both state and federal checks, and indeed his background did not even stop him from obtaining a "Secret" security clearance), the other side would be reduced to demanding more intrusive scrutiny of prospective gun buyers' mental health. As it turns out, that prediction came true later the same day, when Coalition to Stop Gun Violence executive director Josh Horwitz wrote "How Aaron Alexis Passed a Background Check and Bought a Gun" in the Huffington Post:
Though Alexis was being treated by the government for mental illness, he was never adjudicated as a mental defective or committed to a mental institution.
The national policy tools that we have just don't cut it. Despite the numerous, glaring red flags in Aaron Alexis' background, he was a "law-abiding gun owner" as far as our National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was concerned. And too few states have gone beyond the weak federal standard to prevent people like him from getting guns.
In other words, background checks are inadequate. That's odd--just last month, blogger Thirdpower noted that when confronted with the fact that gun sales are soaring (a fact that Horwitz has apparently given up trying to call into question), while "gun violence" has plummeted, Horwitz claimed it was background checks that deserve the credit, and that guns sold with such checks are not the problem. From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
But Josh Horwitz, the leader of a national gun-control group, does not find the comparison of gun crime to legal gun sales particularly significant, and views any perceived correlation between the two sets of data as essentially meaningless.
“Guns sold incident to a background check are less likely to be involved in crimes than guns sold without a background check,” said Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “So the real question — which I don’t think we really know — is what’s the level of gun sales without a background check?
“In other words, if people who buy those guns and have a background check, and keep those guns and don’t sell them, then you would not expect that those guns would affect the crime rate,” Horwitz said. “The important analysis is not the total number of guns sold with a background check, but rather the number of guns sold without a background check.”
Thirdpower notes that this is a brand new position for CSGV, who had previously always argued that "More guns = more violence."
Horwitz points to California's draconian gun laws as the shining example that federal gun laws should follow. California, he says, imposes a five-year gun ban for even short-term emergency commitments for people judged to be a danger to themselves and/or others. Hmm--just a teensy problem here--the Navy Yard shooter does not seem to have received such treatment--how would such a law have made a difference?
Horwitz then praises California law for banning gun possession by people convicted of even misdemeanor violent crimes, or who are under temporary restraining orders. Again, Horwitz presents no evidence that either of these situations apply to the Navy Yard shooter. Yes, he'd had some run-ins with the law--including a couple involving guns--but there do not seem to have been any convictions. Are the accused, but not convicted, to be denied their Constitutionally guaranteed, fundamental human right of the individual to keep and bear arms?
Horwitz also lauds California's new (pending Governor Brown's signature) law mandating a gun ban for anyone convicted of multiple DUI offenses. Again, Horwitz's long list of "red flags" that he claims should have justified banning gun possession by Aaron Alexis includes no mention of even one such offense.
So once again, the anti-Second Amendment jihadists are attempting to exploit a high-profile shooting in order to justify more laws that would have done nothing to prevent that shooting. This is not the first time that Horwitz has exploited the blood of murdered innocents to justify invading the privacy of prospective gun buyers (calling for "mental screening" for gun buyers). It is unlikely to be the last. Kinda sounds like mental illness on Horwitz's part, doesn't it?
- Who can we trust with guns? Who can we trust with freedom?
- Who is prohibited from owning guns?
- Does denying guns to 'prohibited persons' ensure public safety?
- Citizen disarmament lobby wants to expand 'prohibited persons' list
- Mental health, background checks, and unintended consequences
- Should gun owners have their heads examined?
- Do mental health study findings demand disarming one in five Americans?
- Citizen disarmament wears a white coat
- Are they nuts? The dangers of increased mental health scrutiny for gun purchases
- Gun rights, 'public health,' and health care
- Mental health ‘reforms’ could cast ‘blanket dragnet’ for gun rights disabilities
- Mental health angle in gun control leads to slippery slope
- Josh Horwitz Hates Logic
- Veterans who want to keep guns had best be careful seeking treatment for PTSD
- Gun control initiative backers exploit Navy Yard attack