home > this article
|New gun control measure threatens the safety of the elderly
By Samuel Bocetta
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the left would have a new target after the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas. After the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, it was so-called assault weapons (and various AR-15 models in particular), even though that wasn't even the gun Omar Mateen used in his terrorist attack.
After the mass shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas perpetrated by Stephen Paddock, the media became obsessed with bump stocks. Ask any reporter what a bump stock was before the attack, and they wouldn't have had a clue, but suddenly, they became experts on this tool of death and destruction.
The media had an easy target after the Sutherland Springs shooting, in addition to their usual attacks on gun owners and conservatives. The FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) had failed to stop Devin Patrick Kelley from buying a Ruger AR-556 semiautomatic rifle, even though he had a domestic violence conviction on his record from a court martial while he served in the U.S. Air Force.
Technically, the Air Force was at fault for not inputting Kelley's domestic violence conviction to the NICS, but it's not like NICS was passing with flying colors, either. It regularly failed at stopping people with records from buying guns, leading to thousands of gun purchases that should not have gone through where the FBI needed to request seizures of those guns later.
That's par for the course with the U.S. government, as it has a poor record when it comes to large computer systems. Just look at the recent attempts by the Fed to build blockchain systems, which have been characterized by a complete failure to understand the technology.
And so, one of the latest gun control measures for politicians to get behind was the Fix NICS bill, which was notable for getting bipartisan support. Now, House Leadership decided to add this legislation onto H.R. 38, the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.
Adding the Fix NICS legislation to the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act is a fairly obvious ploy to hopefully win some support among the Democrats. H.R. 38 is anything but popular. It certainly makes sense and it simplifies a system of reciprocity that is currently very convoluted, with each state choosing to honor concealed carry permits from some, but not all, of its neighbors.
The Democrats don't care about simplifying systems or doing what makes sense, though. They consider anything that makes life one iota easier for law-abiding gun owners to be a step in the wrong direction, and already, there has been an outcry towards the idea of concealed carry reciprocity.
Unfortunately, House Leadership only made the bill worse by tacking on that Fix NICS legislation. Taken at face value, fixing NICS may seem like a sound idea. The problem is that it will add a large number of people to the list who don't have serious conditions, and those who will be affected the most are the elderly and veterans. Many elderly people, whose only means of defense are small pocket pistols on the nightstand, could find themselves stripped of their gun rights.
If Fix NICS goes through, records from Social Security, Medicare and many other benefits programs would be passed along to log people dealing with ADHD, PTSD, Alzheimer's disease and other mental conditions that range in severity. All those people would be ineligible to own firearms. People with psychiatric disabilities who have had a guardian appointed would also be considered ineligible.
Although mental health conditions can be serious, that's not always the case. Many are more moderate, and most people suffering from mental illness don't demonstrate any violent or suicidal behaviors. One Duke study of 82,000 people who have serious mental illnesses found that they didn't present a heightened risk of harming anyone with a gun. Keep in mind that those were people with serious mental illnesses.
Gun control measures such as Fix NICS do more harm than good. They don't stop criminals from getting their hands on guns because even if a criminal can't get a gun legally, they'll just do it illegally. The only people who can't get guns due to gun control measures are those who respect the law, and in the case of Fix NICS, that will be primarily older Americans who may not have any self-defense option as effective as a firearm.
Sam Bocetta is a retired engineer who worked for over 35 years as a defense contractor for the U.S. Navy, specializing in electronic warfare and advanced computer systems. He teaches in Ottawa, Canada as a part time engineering professor and is the ASEAN affairs correspondent for Gun News Daily.