Monday, August 4, 2008

The Right to Bear Arms & Mental Illness

No matter where you may stand on the right to own firearms in America, there is no denying that the background checks to purchase them need closer inspection.

Josh Horwitz' piece today on the Huffington Post eloquently articulated this. The deficiencies of the background verification system exposed in the aftermath of the shootings at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University have produced little more than lip service to reform. As it stands, an individual with a severe mental illness, with a propensity to violence, can legally purchase a firearm in most areas of the country. By the time President Bush signed the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, which was supposed to improve the screening process, the National Rifle Association had successfully secured new gun-owning rights of the mentally ill. Amazing, isn't it.

I have worked off and on over the last few years with a young man who idolizes Seung-Hui Cho and his Virginia Tech massacre. He has threatened repeatedly to commit a similar act at a local school, which is how he found his way to me. He has shown up at my office, tattered copy of The Satanic Bible in hand, to discuss his latest theories on being the Evil One and how much libidinously-satisfying damage he can really do. Oh, yes, the police are well aware of this young man, but little can be done until something happens.

While we try to contain him, and thousands like him in our midst, it is likely only a matter of time before his hands are covered with blood. And ours, too.
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