Op-Ed: HR 2640 - Sensible Solution or Trojan Horse?

By Clayton E. Cramer

My last two columns addressed the problem of psychosis, violence and gun control. This column is about HR 2640, a mental illness and gun control bill currently before Congress that has split the gun rights community more than I can ever recall seeing.

Click 'Read More' for additional excerpts.

What does HR 2640 purport to do? (Remember that I am talking about the HR 2640 as of the day that I wrote this column, July 21. Bills change as they work their way thorough Congress.) At least 28 states either intentionally, because of a shortage of money, or by bureaucratic incompetence, fail to turn over mental illness commitment information to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check system.

HR 2640 tries to improve the level of compliance by a combination of carrot and stick. The states that are failing to turn over the information can get additional money to upgrade their computer systems and hire more staff to solve this problem. States that still won't turn over the information will have their federal funding under the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 reduced.

One very poorly thought out provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968 specified that if a person was found to be mentally incompetent, he lost the right to own a forever. What about people who have a mental illness episode in their teens or 20s, and never have another problem? Even 20 years later-no matter how many judges or doctors have declared you competent and safe to own a gun-you still can't legally own one under federal law. At the insistence of the NRA, HR 2640 adds a new provision to federal law that allows the federal government or states to relieve you from this disability.

Now, a lot of gun rights organizations whose commitment to the cause I do not question have broken with NRA on HR 2640. Gun Owners of America and Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership are notable examples of groups that are very concerned that HR 2640 is going to open a Pandora's Box of new gun restrictions, and they have managed to get this concern expressed to a large part of the gun rights community.

...I have spent a lot of time reading their concerns, and those of my many readers, trying to see if they are correct about the dangers of HR 2640. As much as I respect these organizations and their zeal, I'm just not finding anything in the bill that gives me reason to oppose it.

...I appreciate the concerns that gun rights groups have about HR 2640. Anytime that Carolyn McCarthy wants a bill passed, we should definitely read it carefully, and consider if there might be something nasty hiding in the woodwork. But so far, all of the objections that I have seen raised to HR 2640-at least as it is written today-seem to be erroneous.

Click here to read the entire op-ed from ShotgunNews.com.

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