“Mental health gun laws won’t do anything to stop gun violence. If somebody wants to go on a shooting spree, he’s going to get a gun no matter what.”
As a gun owner, I feel like this statement is bullshit, and I’m going to tell you why.
1) At several points in my life, the thought of putting on pants has stopped me from leaving the house. Had I been wearing pants already, I most likely would have left the house. Because I was not wearing pants, I was forced to think about what it would take for me to put on pants and leave the house (getting off the couch, walking ALL THE WAY upstairs, finding a pair of pants you like, putting them on, sliding on a pair of socks, sliding on a pair of shoes, tying your shoes, walking ALL THE WAY back downstairs, walking out the door), and I decided against leaving the house altogether. That extended process allowed my want of the outdoors to “cool down” to a point where I was no longer interested in it. See where I’m going with this?
2) I have no idea where to get an illegal gun. Do you? I have no clue how to even begin that process. Type “how do I get an illegal gun” into your Google search bar, and your driveway will be full of black panel vans and bomb sniffing German Shepherds within the hour. Do I have to perform an intricate hand movement at the counter of a gun shop in order to be led through a secret passageway leading to a bunker full of cold war era Yugoslavian firearms? Do I have to keep visiting public restroom after public restroom until I find “for a good illegal pistol, call 555-1212”? I’m saying this as a person of sound mind and body, and I can’t imagine it would be any easier for somebody under extreme emotional turmoil.
3) If you’re super drunk, your bartender is going to stop serving you because he’s afraid you’ll crash your car, and the coroner is going to find a receipt for thirty-seven wine spritzers at Goofy Gary’s Libation Station in your pocket. A bank doesn’t want to give you a loan if your credit sucks, because there’s a great chance you’re not going to pay it back. I don’t feed my cat lasagna and make Garfield jokes all day because I don’t want to mop his foamy diarrhea off my hardwood floors. The bartender doesn’t want to lose his job, the banker doesn’t want to lose money, and the Miker doesn’t want to be knee deep in a river of terrifying cat shit. These are examples of what we call “self preservation”.
The same principal of self preservation applies to gun dealers in regard to a pre-purchase mental health screening process. A legal gun dealer isn’t going to want to skip that process, because he’s not going to want to lose his job, or get fined or even imprisoned over a few extra bucks. At the same time, an illegal gun dealer (if you’re actually able to find one) isn’t going to want to sell a gun to a wackadoo, because he knows the wackadoo is going to do something stupid with it, and he doesn’t want his down low cash flow to be interrupted by the inevitable ATF raid that will follow a mass shooting with national media attention.
4) “But what if there’s a gun in a house where a crazy person lives? What’s stopping him for using that to Swiss cheese a local day care facility?” Great question. Drafts of gun control laws include the stipulation that a gun owner living in a home with a mentally ill person must properly store and lock their weapons, and a failure to do so would result in the prosecution of the gun owner. I have yet to meet a gun owner who is upset with this proposal, as most are already responsible enough to lock their weapons up when they’re not in use.
5) I own a gun, and I have no issue with going through a mental health screening to make sure I’m safe to continue owning my gun. That’s because I’m sane. If you are afraid of mental health screenings because you think the government is going to intentionally skew your results in order to take your guns away, or if you use the argument that “Hitler loved gun laws because it kept the people powerless”, then there’s a great chance you shouldn’t be anywhere near guns in the first place, Paranoid Pete.
Will mental health screenings eradicate gun violence in America? Will mass shootings completely drop out of the news? Of course not. There’s no perfect solution to the mess we’ve gotten ourselves into. Somebody can still steal a gun, purchase one through illegal channels, or eventually figure out how to 3D print a Luger in their high school computer lab. There will always be exceptions to the rule, but will mental health screenings serve to severely reduce the number of needless gun deaths, and help us make sure most gun ownership in America is responsible, reliable and safe gun ownership? This pantless author says yes.