Posted by: L | April 30, 2007

Guns forbidden to those deemed dangerous or treated involuntarily for mental illness

AP April 30, 2007

Story Highlights

• Database lists people barred from busing guns
• List would include anyone ordered to undergo mental health treatment
• Virginia Tech gunman was treated as an outpatient
• Court finding that shooter was a danger never made it into database
RICHMOND, Virginia (AP) — Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine said Monday he has closed the loophole that allowed a mentally disturbed Virginia Tech student to acquire the guns he used to kill 32 students and faculty members.

Kaine issued an executive order requiring that a database of people who are prohibited from buying guns include anyone found to be dangerous and ordered to undergo involuntary mental health treatment.

Seung-Hui Cho had been ordered by a court to undergo psychiatric counseling after a judge ruled that he was a danger to himself.

But because Cho was treated as an outpatient and never committed to a mental health hospital, the court finding never made it into the database that gun dealers must check before selling a firearm. The law prohibits selling firearms to people judged to have mental disabilities.

“Whether that treatment is to be provided in an inpatient or outpatient facility is of no moment,” Kaine said.

Cho did not disclose his mental health problems or the court-ordered treatment in a form he completed before buying the guns.

“His lie on the form would have been caught,” had the order been in place before Cho attempted to buy the guns, Kaine said.

But it would not prevent Cho from acquiring guns by several other means that require no background check in Virginia, including buy-and-trade publications, individual transactions among gun collectors or hobbyists, and gun shows — vast firearms bazaars where scores of people sell or swap firearms.

Legislation that would also subject firearms sales at gun shows to instant background checks is introduced annually in Virginia, and just as often it dies without reaching a floor vote in the General Assembly.

Kaine, a Democrat, has said he expects new support for the legislation this year and that he would support it, as he has in the past.

The executive order does not apply to people who seek mental health care of their own will. After the report is added to Virginia’s state police database, it becomes part of a federal database that gun dealers nationwide use.

Cho, a 23-year-old Virginia Tech senior described as a troubled loner, bought his guns legally through gun shops before gunning down 32 people on campus, then killing himself.

No motive has been established for his rampage.

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Responses

  1. I wonder if rules like this will prevent people from being frank with their doctors and therapists.

  2. Yes, that’s one concern. Also – I wonder if it would lend itself to abuse in domestic abuse or divorce/custody cases.

  3. Same rules should apply for the military. Too many instances of civilian casualties in Iraq.

  4. I don’t know how the military handles it. Obviously, if you are insane that is not compatible with military service.

    But if you are under a restraining order from a spouse, can the military issue you a weapon?

  5. Wiki seems to say that the Domestic Violence Offender Gun Ban of 1996, (challenged but upheld in Emerson), “mandates the discharge of servicemembers who have been convicted of domestic violence, and mandates the discharge of all servicemembers who are convicted of domestic violence in the future. This is not explicitly written in the law, but a side effect of servicemembers’ access to firearms in the course of their duties.”

  6. This is from Cato Institute:

    “A restriction on persons subject to a domestic violence restraining order was a reasonable exception to Second Amendment protection. That’s roughly the position of an impressive array of legal scholars, including Harvard’s liberal icon, Laurence Tribe, and Yale’s highly respected Akhil Amar, who agree on two fundamental issues: First, the Second Amendment confers an individual rather than a collective right. Second, that right is not absolute; it is subject to reasonable regulation. To the extent there’s disagreement, it hinges on what constitutes reasonable regulation; that is, where to draw the line.”


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