If you feel like bad news is coming at you as fast as a bullet flies, that may be because the Republican Congress has undone a protective measure to minimize gun violence from mentally ill people.
President Obama, in December, signed an executive order that addressed the "mental health component" of so many mass shootings. Republicans and the NRA, even Donald Trump himself frequently call for "more mental health screenings" after a mass shooting, to deflect from any efforts to, ya know, curtail gun sales. Obama called their bluff.
Turns out the bluff was just that. Physicians in Congress is more beholden to the NRA than they are to their MD oath, as all seem to have high ratings from the NRA. Rep. Tom Price, Sen. Tom Coburn (retired), Sen. John Barrasso, and Sen. Rand Paul wholeheartedly support the reinterpretation of the 2nd Amendment, thank you Sen. Orrin Hatch for that.
President Obama's order, which was recommended by the NRA before it happened, then drew cries of disapproval from the usual suspects. Here's what the law dictated.
Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. (sounds pretty damned reasonable, right?) The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The reporting that SSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is expected to require will cover appropriate records of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent. The rulemaking will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.
An excerpt from the modern Hippocratic Oath seems antithetical to gun proliferation.
I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter.
On CNN's New Day, Senator Barrasso addressed his party's latest accomplishment, which destroyed one of the last reasonable executive orders. Thanks John!
ALISYN CAMEROTA: There's just been this measure to lift a gun control restriction that will now allow people with severe mental illness to get their hands on guns. How does that make sense?
SEN BARRASSO: I don't look at it this way. i'm a strong proponent of our Second Amendment rights. It's interesting. this is a rule that President Obama came out with in December long after he was a lame duck president. If this is something he was so committed to, you would have thought sometime in the previous eight years he would have come out with a regulation.
The Wyoming Senator is quite the comedian, as he knows damn well the GOP Congress would NEVER do anything to harm the sales of guns in this country. The NRA and the GOA are vastly more important than the safety of their constituents. Camerota tried again for a logical response.
CAMEROTA: If someone has a mental illness so severe that they cannot work, should they be able to have a gun?
BARRASSO: The question is, is somebody able to have a gun at the same time they're receiving social security disability benefits. You can take a look at how those decisions are being made.
He clarified that murky nonsense later with this proclamation.
BARRASSO: You can take a look at what the Constitution says, which is what I do as a physician who spent lots of time working with patients with all different backgrounds. They're clearly people labeled one way or another, and I'm not comfortable with this late midnight recommendation by the (last reasonable) President as he's leaving office.
Translation: I mean, come on! He was black, don't you remember? Besides, I have an A rating from the NRA!
He's much more comfortable with a crazy autocrat and his gun nuts in Congress allowing the clearly mentally impaired permission to own and likely use, lethal firearms. Barrasso is an unprincipled man who has forgotten what the Hippocratic Oath says and means.