Senate Does NRA’s Bidding, Lets 75,000 Mentally Ill People Buy Guns

Republicans voted to end a policy that sends the names of people unable to work because of ‘severe’ impairments to have their backgrounds checked.


Photo Illustration by Kelly Caminero/The Daily Beast

Wednesday morning, the Senate decided to join their brethren and sistren in the House of Representatives and vote to place guns in the hands of people too mentally unstable to manage their own bank accounts. Really.

With every Republican and a few mindless Democrats joining them because “please don’t hurt me, voters, already supporting my opponent” seems like sound strategy, the Senate gave its imprimatur to H.J. Res. 40. This will rollback the Social Security Administration (SSA) policy begun under President Obama to share with our NICS background check system the 75,000 individuals who are unable to work because of “severe mental impairment” and an inability to manage their own Social Security benefits.

No worries—here's your AR-15!

You might think to yourself, given that we’ve just learned that the Trump Campaign had regular get togethers with Russian intelligence to share secrets and play Twister last year, that the Senate might have something better to do with its time. You might also think that Republican legislators who pretend to support better mental health after each mass shooting would gag at the irony piled upon hypocrisy of passing legislation such as this. But then you'd have to have never observed the people running the majority in both our House and Senate.

When folks out there—usually those who have busy lives and understandably just want Washington to solve our major problems—ask “why can't both sides just work together and get common sense, moderate legislation passed?”, this is your answer. This is why.

For there’s a legitimate debate to be had about many gun laws proposed by those, like me, who think we need much stricter regulation. It can honestly be contested whether someone who has passed a background check should have the right to an assault weapon, or whether that’s too much military firepower for citizens to possess in a democratic society (my position). There can be legitimate arguments also about how loose or stringent we should make concealed carry laws for legal gun owners. I'd argue that without proven need, a written test and serious time on the range, it's a no go, but others can make legitimate cases for other positions.

There, however, is no legitimate argument for not requiring that people purchasing firearms do what private babysitting services ask of their employees: a comprehensive background check. Why would any sane society not do every single thing in its power to prevent those who have proven criminally violent or incapable of taking care of themselves from getting their hands on weapons that kill?

You can go down the list of mass shootings and in most of these terrible tragedies find enough red flags that a comprehensive background-check system could have prevented them (Virginia Tech, Tucson and Aurora being but a few examples). Yet, beyond the threat to others, what about the threat these individuals present to their own well-being? The very same conservatives who go marching throughout the land fighting to prevent assisted suicide for those in debilitating pain also seem to be most eager to hand a gun to the mentally ill. Does that make sense in any world?

Well, it does in one. National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre's world. You see, there might not be a legitimate reason to allow those on this SSA list to buy guns, but there is a reason. Profits for those who donate to the NRA and sit on its board. These are the major firearm manufacturers, who realize that 75,000 people is still 75,000 people. Like terrorists and criminals, they too can pay in dollars.

This is why whenever there is a mass shooting, in between spasms of drooling on himself, LaPierre hollers and gesticulates about conspiracies, like former President Obama's using a background check database to come and take your guns. It is why radio mad hatter Alex Jones joins in the charade by screaming about revolution, as he collects piles of money from those advertising bunkers to his bonkers audience. Because, there is simply no legitimate argument to be made here.

Which clearly makes no difference to the current crop in the House and Senate Majority. So prepare yourself for more NRA-sponsored, Mad-Max gun, I hesitate to use the word, “policy,” forthcoming. And remember who supported this inanity when it’s time to vote in 2018.