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Mother Jones: Senate Bill Would Allow "Mentally Incapacitated" Vets to Buy Guns

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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 07:18 AM
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Mother Jones: Senate Bill Would Allow "Mentally Incapacitated" Vets to Buy Guns
Senate Bill Would Allow "Mentally Incapacitated" Vets to Buy Guns
By Corbin Hiar | Mon November 16, 2009 3:03 AM PST

Major Nidal Hasan, accused of killing 13 people at Fort Hood Army base, has been described by former colleagues as "psychotic." As more details emerge about Hasan's troubled state, gun safety advocates are launching fresh attacks on a Senate bill they say would make it easier for mentally unstable veterans to buy firearms.

Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) says his "Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act" will protect veterans' gun rights. But the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence calls it a "dangerous" proposal that could allow "over 100,000 mentally incapacitated or incompetent persons" to buy gunspeople who would previously have been barred from doing so by the Veterans Administration (VA).

With debate over Fort Hood still raging on cable news, one might think that Burr might try to quietly shelve the measure, whose co-sponsors include Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.). Instead, Burr fired back at the Brady Campaign in an interview with Fox News, accusing its president, Paul Helmke, of using the tragedy to "exploit the senseless murder of American soldiers in the quest to secure personal triumph." ..............(more)

The complete piece is at:

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Irreverend IX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 07:36 AM
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1. It doesn't "allow mentally incapacitated vets to buy guns..."
It prevents the VA bureaucracy from disqualifying people from owning guns without due process. The Constitution provides that people cannot be deprived of their rights without a fair hearing in a court of law. A psychiatrist deciding someone's nuts does not meet that standard; evidence needs to be brought before a judge who can then adjudicate the person incompetent.
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marmar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 08:46 AM
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2. And a judge is a better expert on someone's mental capacity than a psychiatrist?
Mon dieu......
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happyslug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 10:37 AM
Response to Reply #2
3. But a Judge can ask for independent evaluation and this is done all the time
In cases where someone's mental capacity is in question, it is up to a Judge to determine is someone meets the LEGAL DEFINITION of being mentally incapacitated. Psychologist and Psychiatrists can NOT tell if someone meets that definition, they can only report on what restrictions a person's mental problems have on him or her.

The classic situation is Insanity, which is a LEGAL definition NOT a definition used by Psychologist or Psychiatrists. It is up a a Judge or Jury to determine if someone is "Insane". Psychologist or Psychiatrists can testify as to what they found when they examine the defendant, including restrictions imposed on him or her by the mental restrictions but that does NOT include if the person is "insane" or not. Now most times Judges and Juries will defer to Psychologist and Psychiatrists as to the restrictions (and thus if the person is insane or not) but if they is any disagreement among the Psychologist and Psychiatrists then it is up to the Jury or Judge to decide the issue.

A good comparison is with the Police, did a crime occur? The Police can report to the Jury what they found and why they think a crime incurred (and they have the expertise to investigate the crime) but it is still up to the Judge and Jury if a crime occurred AND if the defendant did it, no matter what the police say. The reason for this is we want an independent determination if the crime occurred and the Defendant did it, the same with mental incapacity, Psychologist and Psychiatrists can give the Judge and Jury insight as to the Mental capacity of a Defendant, but it is still up to the Judge and/or jury to determine if the person is truly incapacitated. We do NOT give the Police the power to determine Guilt or Innocent relying on their expertise for the same reason we do NOT rely on the reports of Psychologist and Psychiatrists as to incapacity. They are often to close to the problem to weigh all the evidence and you often need a person several steps away to see if someone is guilty of a crime, insane or mentally Incompetent, thus it is a job reserved to Juries and Judges.
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slackmaster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Nov-17-09 10:41 AM
Response to Reply #2
4. A judge's ruling carries the weight of law, and rulings are rarely done based on a single opinion
At least in my state, a ruling of incompetence generally requires testimony from more than one mental health professional.

The other thing that's important about a judicial ruling is that it can be appealed.
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