Governors Gone Wild!

|

New Jersey's governor has dodged some legal trouble for flouting the state's seatbelt laws.

A self-described gadfly withdrew his complaint Tuesday against Gov. Jon S. Corzine for failing to wear a seat belt when he was critically injured in a highway crash. State police have not yet decided whether to ticket the governor. The complaint filed by Larry Angel was withdrawn just as a judge was to decide whether to approve the complaint.

Angel's complaint had alleged Corzine violated state law by failing to wear his seat belt when his official vehicle, driven by a state trooper at 91 mph, crashed on the Garden State Parkway.

State law requires all front seat passengers wear a seat belt; Corzine was in the front passenger seat. Violators face a $46 fine, and Tom Shea, Corzine's chief of staff, has said the governor should be ticketed if he wasn't buckled up.

The complainer was a harmless kook who just wanted Corzine to suck it up and take responsibility. Corzine will probably find another fulcrum for passing tougher seatbelt laws when he gets back to his job and tries to save face. (I'm guessing. That's how these things usually turn out, right?)

Meanwhile, a few hours down I-95:

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine signed an executive order to broaden background checks for gun purchases Monday… Kaine's order effectively draws the Chos of the world into a state database that prohibits people from buying guns. It says that people who are ordered to receive outpatient treatment, as Cho was, should be flagged and their names sent in to a state database. The law had not been interpreted that way, and Kaine's order clarifies it.

One reporter pushed back a little:

But if Kaine's order had been in effect two weeks ago, would it have prevented the massacre?

"That is an awful large question," Kaine said at a press conference. "There are a lot of ways to purchase firearms."

And lots more laws to pass!

Advertisement

NEXT: Goldberg on Radicals

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. At a rest stop on the NJ Turnpike about a week ago, the customary photo of the governor inside the entryway had “BUCKLE UP!” scrawled on his forehead.

  2. Recommended outpatient psychiatric treatment = medical advice = doctor/patient confidentiality,no? Is there something I am missing?

  3. For a blog called Hit and Run

  4. And, of course, Governor Corzine’s motorcade was speeding when it took him from the hospital yesterday.

    God, what a tool. Still, I can’t imagine anyone is too surprised that former Master of the Universe/Uberboss of Goldman Sachs thinks that are rules for the Little People.

  5. Kwix, the executive order deals with court ordered psychiatric treatment.

    I don’t know if that helps.

  6. Cab,
    It does indeed, thanks.

  7. Yeah, if our criminal justice system is working properly, and you are ordered to receive psychiatric treatment, you’ve probably demonstrated at best poor judgment. I’m not wholly opposed to some restriction from buying a gun. Probably in that case, simply requiring them to apply for a waiver would be sufficient. That might not prevent him from getting a gun, but it would at least be one more decision point where he has to stop and possibly think. Might not have prevented his actions, but it might have some marginal effect.

  8. lunchstealer,

    OK, smarty-pants… how’s this for a conspiracy theory… Once the anti-gun nuts get a law banning all psych referrals from getting guns, they then declare the desire to want a gun a psychological disorder. What’re you going to do then, huh?

    (Birthday-boys around these parts get trolled! Unless you’re a birthday-girl, then Urkobold writes you a lovely allcaps poem.)

  9. Just for further info – for a while now, Virginia has required reporting when a person was found “mentally ill and a danger to himself or others” and that person was ordered by the court to be “admitted to a facility.”

    This executive order clarifies that outpatient care falls within the definition of “admitted to a facility.”

    In technical terms, you don’t have to be totally whacked-out and sent for a long stay at the looney bin, now a court ordered visit to Bonkers-in-a-Box will get you on the weirdo list.

  10. When you take away rights and privledges from people who recieve mental health treatment, the effect is no-one will ever seek mental health treatment, EVER!!!

    In the rare case that they might be compelled to recieve a psychiatric evaluation, they are going to carefully stick to a script in order not to reveal anything, lest they lose their rights and privledges.

    Remember folks, seeing a shrink is now like going to court, except that you can’t hire a lawyer, you aren’t judged by your peers, and you can be brought to trial on suspicion.

  11. How did the “scofflaw governor” thread morph into a “crazy Korean” thread?

  12. But if Kaine’s order had been in effect two weeks ago, would it have prevented the massacre?

    This is a simple question to answer. Cho bought one of the guns in March, so no, Kaines’ order couldn’t have prevented the massacre had it been two weeks earlier.

  13. David Hardy at Of Arms and the Law has a pretty good entry on this topic.

    I am somewhat troubled by the possible implications of this development.

    Because of this law, someone’s civil rights could be infringed based on the say-so of a lawyer who’s moonlighting part time as a judge.

    No trial, no jury, no verdict, just one guy who isn’t trained in psychology passing down a decree that could remove someone’s civil rights.

    The problem with Virginia’s system isn’t that it allows people who are recommended for outpatient treatment from buying a gun, it’s that the person making the determination of what sort of care is required aren’t medically qualified to make that decision.

  14. The right of self defense is as fundamental as human rights can get. You’d better have an evaluation solid enough to declare someone a danger to others or incompetent to handle their own affairs (i.e. you’ve stripped their rights anyway) before you take away their right to protect themselves effectively.

    I’m willing to live with this kind of risk, which is not at all high by the way.

  15. What better way to get paranoid schizophrenics to seek help than to put their names in a national database.

  16. I say that that the FBI ought to implant the skulls of paranoid schizophrenics with tracking chips. Maybe they can also send messages from a satellite suggesting possible courses of action.

    Seriously, if someone was diagnosed as slightly-nuts once upon a time and is now Certified Sane, should that one remain on the books? If so, for how long and what should the terms of probation be? Suppose Cho had had second thoughts and cleaned himself up some. Probably he still should not have been armed in 2007. But what about 2009? 2012?

  17. Oh, and is being a “moonbat” or a “wingnut” – or an “anarchist” – proof of mental disorder?

  18. If the right to own a gun truly is a right, then it cannot be taken away from a person simply due to illness.

    Those who are pro-2nd Amendment yet want restrictions on the mentally ill purchasing guns need to decide which side you’re on.

    After all, until he started shooting, Cho deserved to be able to protect himself just like anybody else.

  19. Sugarfree,

    Note that I said “If the criminal justice system is working properly.”

    That one’s a doozy. I’m not convinced that it really is. Hence the necessity of a system for waiving the restriction. And this should not apply to voluntary mental care. An ADHD or clinical depression diagnosis is dime-a-dozen these days, and there’s no reason someone diagnosed with Asperger’s shouldn’t own a weapon.

    The only people who’d be affected by my ideal addition to this gun restriction would be people (like Cho) who had presented a judge with sufficient cause for concern that they might cause harm through some illegal action (in this case stalking) that the judge has to order the individual to receive psychiatric care, and who cannot subsequently demonstrate that they are not a threat and should have a waiver for the gun-purchase restriction.

  20. OK, smarty-pants… how’s this for a conspiracy theory… Once the anti-gun nuts get a law banning all psych referrals from getting guns, they then declare the desire to want a gun a psychological disorder. What’re you going to do then, huh?

    Sugarfree: look around for articles about the program to allow pilots to fly armed (part of Homeland Security Act). Commercial pilots, who all undergo psych screening before they can fly, are subject to additional screening when they request to fly armed. The screening can result in the pilot losing his job.

    You’re gonna have to get a little more out there on your conspiracy theories.

  21. Dan T: ALL government is a pact between the commons and their sovereign. Part of this pact includes the privileges of the free citizen. Not all members of the commons have such privileges.

    For instance: Children have no right to vote, to hold office, or (unattended) to bear arms. We’ve arbitrarily chosen a few milestones to separate them from franchised citizens: the 18th birthday, for instance. Likewise, violent felons lose the right to bear arms as part of their sentence.

    The Second Amendment was drawn up based on the 18th-century understanding of mental illness, whereby you were in Bedlam if you were “mad” and out free if you weren’t. (And there were a *lot* of frontier murders back then.)

    I propose that he whom a state-licensed psychologist has found mentally unfit to bear arms, ought not to bear arms, at least until he is Certified Sane again.

  22. Ryan,

    I was joking with lunchstealer for his birthday. It’s horrific that my faked paranoia is a real policy. I going back to blaming everything on fluoride. 🙁

  23. I commented last month that Cho seemed to have wiggled his way through VA’s regulations. Rex and mediageek both raise good points about the effect of the new regulations. I’d like to see them do some follow-up on individuals who are ordered into outpatient care. If those so ordered don’t complete the course of treatment, they should definitely remain in the database. If they do complete it, they ought to be reevaluated. Somebody could have a temporary “blip” in their mental health, especially someone as young as Cho, and if they get the help they need they might be able to be trusted with weapons after awhile. Others will have more serious problems that ought to disqualify them long-term, if not permanently. Some legal process for having the bar against ever owning a weapon ought to be available, too.

    Who would you rather hear was packing: a 50-year-old who was forced to be a psych patient for a short while in his teens, but got straightened out and hasn’t caused anybody trouble in a quarter century, or a serious whack-job who has avoided being remanded to care by a court by agreeing to voluntary treatment, then avoids taking his meds or following any of the other treatment he may need?*

    David Ross: I don’t think shrinks should be licensed by the state, so I’m going to disagree with you a bit. They ought to be certified by some respectable accreditation outfit, and any order to suspend someone’s 2nd Amendment rights ought to be done by a court, under due process and equal protection.

    Kevin

    *Of course, some may answer “neither.”

  24. “If the right to own a gun truly is a right, then it cannot be taken away from a person simply due to illness.

    Those who are pro-2nd Amendment yet want restrictions on the mentally ill purchasing guns need to decide which side you’re on.

    After all, until he started shooting, Cho deserved to be able to protect himself just like anybody else.”

    See my comment above. We have procedures in place whereby we deny people the right to refuse medication and force them into treatment. At that point, you have decided such a person does not have rights. You should only do this sparingly, but the prohibition against self defense shouldn’t come into play until you have made this level decision.

    “He was angry,” is insufficient to deny a fundamental human right, you are correct.

  25. I going back to blaming everything on fluoride. 🙁

    sugarfree, you could try being paranoid about childhood vaccinations. That seems to be a hot new source of paranoia.

  26. I’m very much against changing someone’s leagal status based of a psychiatric diagnosis. If a court order for treatment means taking away other rights, we need to make psychiatric hearings more like criminal hearings. In a criminal court, you have the right to remain silent. In psychiatry, being nonresponsive is grounds for committing someone. The grandfather clause prevents criminals from being convicted unless their action was outlawed before they did it. Psychiatric symptoms are so vague they easily apply to people retroactively. How about just making, “danger to others” a crime and sending people who risk others through the criminal system?

  27. I understand the need for this type of thing but I worry the anti’s seeing this as a toehold. Maybe mental fitness evaluations for all gunowners? Will it continue to be a state by state thing?
    Here in Alabama I can be dying but can refuse medical care from a paramedic if I can tell them no. I dont know if that includes mental health care.
    Didn’t Cho get evaluated and was given a positive evaluation? Could he have argued for the purchase on those grounds had this been in place then?
    I just worry that it is a very slippery slope based on a troublesome but very isolated incident. Is there any other case like this that would suggest a pattern of failure in the current system?

  28. Meanwhile, back on topic, I’m just pissed that all the focus has been on his apology for not wearing a seatbelt! No apology for recklessly endagering innocent lives by speeding over 90 mph? GAH! And it’s worse that none of the articles I see on this take any note of it whatsoever. All the talk is whether or not the Gov is going to get a seatbelt ticket; what about the fucking speeding ticket? Or review of motorcade policy?

  29. ooops, just saw that the gun thing actually *is* on topic.

  30. brotherben:

    Cho did not receive a positive evaluation. He was not found a danger to others, but was deemed a danger to himself. The temporary detention order was lifted after the magistrate heard from the shrink who evaluated him. Cho didn’t follow through on the outpatient treatment that was ordered. (See the link in my earlier post for more linkage backing all this up.)

    A mandatory psych eval for all gun owners would make the 2nd A a dead letter, and would amount to mandatory licensing by the back door. I’m not for it.

    Kevin

  31. Is mental health the same as brain health? I understand heart health and lung health but I’ll be damned if I know where the mental is? Having been married to a person diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia, the symptoms rapidly change. Being a danger to ones self is not a reason to not have a gun. Those youngsters enlisting in the army today would be considered irrational by some of us. They certainly are going to be a danger to others , especially to Iraqis, if the training sticks.How do we know that those doing the evaluation don’t have a problem? Just say no thanks to “mental health experts”.

  32. I aam sorry. I didnt mean i wanted evals for ownership. I am suggesting the anti gunners will use this tragedy as an argument for such a requirement.
    As for Cho. not being a threat to others. Well I guess we see how useful such evaluations might actually be. Not to mention the rabid soon to be ex-wife telling lies about the mental fitness of hubby the legal gun owner.
    These cases are so rare that a sane person would not see them as valid in a right to bear arms discussion.

  33. No worries, broben. I knew you were speculating on what the anti-gun crowd night propose.

    Can’t the rabid (ex-)spouse thwart gun ownership by the estranged partner by filing for a restraining order? Some commentary I’ve read suggests that those are handed out like Chiclets?, though I suspect that might be hyperbole.

    Kevin

  34. Kaine’s executive order bans people who were ORDERED by a court to receive treatment. In the case with Cho, he was accused of stalking and was evaluated by state psychiatrists. The judge used those as evidence to issue the Temporary Detention Order. There is a procedure for these kinds of things, and barring few exceptions, no judge is going to declare someone to be a looney without some kind of recommendation from a shrink. Lets not get a carried away with the slippery slope argument here, because it is small measures like this that will satisfy the majority of the public.

  35. Unlike the gun-grabbers, the public at large doesn’t want to ban guns, but they do want to see that the law is clarified so nutjobs like Cho have a harder time getting a gun. And to be honest, small but somewhat effective rule changes that prevent shit from hitting the fan, but don’t infringe on my right to pack heat don’t bother me very much.

  36. “””When you take away rights and privledges from people who recieve mental health treatment, the effect is no-one will ever seek mental health treatment, EVER!!!”””

    I saw Dr. Phil on Leno talking about this last night. He made the point that his show is partly about saying mental health issues are ok to talk about and no one should fear addressing their problems. Trying to bring them “out of the closet” so to speak. He viewed the opening of mental health records as a slippery slope that would have a negative effect on those thinking about seeking help.

  37. “””Those youngsters enlisting in the army today would be considered irrational by some of us.”””

    Certainly!! The desire to kill the enemy is still a desire to kill. Should people with the desire to kill be allowed a gun?

    But a more realistic problem is that they hand out the Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder like candy to anyone that has served and presents some issue. Case in point. I have a friend that was diagnosed as PTSD because he told them he was involved in the Lebanon back in ’83, despite the fact he told them he never left the ship nor saw any combat. They viewed him as a Marine IN Lebanon, which was inaccurate.

    People with PTSD can snap, and if your looking into peoples mental health records this would probably be a flag.

  38. “””Kaine’s executive order bans people who were ORDERED by a court to receive treatment.”””

    So those who are extremely nuts and are NOT ordered to recieve treatment are ok?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.