Muzzling Gun Rights

Loughner panic continues


When Jared Lee Loughner wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and murdered six others in Tucson last January, many people were appalled to learn that a known weirdo like him could legally buy a gun. One of those appalled was Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who in March introduced the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, which includes several ways to keep law-abiding citizens from exercising their Second Amendment rights.

Schumer's bill would expand background checks, which currently apply only to sales by licensed dealers, to all transfers of guns except gifts to immediate family members. It also would add to the criteria that disqualify people from owning guns, barring anyone who has been forced into counseling by a "lawful body," regardless of whether he is deemed dangerous; anyone who has been arrested (not necessarily convicted) of any drug-related crime in the last five years; and anyone who has made an "admission to using or possessing a controlled substance unlawfully within the past 5 years."

What counts as an "admission"? No one knows for sure, but it could mean any public discussion of one's drug use. Federal money would be withheld from states that don't report to the feds information indicating a citizen does not meet the new law's standards for gun ownership. The bill also would command colleges receiving federal money to create a system for identifying people who seem to "pose a safety risk to themselves or others," appoint a committee to assess such individuals' mental health, and adopt procedures for committing them involuntarily.