Gun Control Laws Should Be Fair

This month, Congress repealed a rule that would have registered thousands of Social Security recipients with mental disabilities, who have others manage their benefits, into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to prevent them from owning firearms.

The American Civil Liberties Union does not oppose gun control laws. As an organization dedicated to defending all constitutional rights, we believe the Second Amendment allows reasonable restrictions to promote public safety.

But gun control laws, like any law, should be fair, effective and not based on prejudice or stereotype. This rule met none of those criteria.

In this era of “alternative facts,” we must urge politicians to create laws based on reliable evidence and solid data.

The thousands of Americans whose disability benefits are managed by someone else range from young people with depression and financial inexperience to older adults with Down syndrome needing help with a limited budget. But no data — none — show that these individuals have a propensity for violence in general or gun violence in particular.

To the contrary, studies show that people with mental disabilities are less likely to commit firearm crimes than to be the victims of violence by others.

Data show that young, white men are most likely to be mass shooters — the issue that politicians care about most, despite accounting for a tiny fraction of gun violence. And men under 35 commit most murders. Shall we enter all young men into the national database? The statistical correlation with gun violence would be stronger.

The ACLU and 23 national disability groups did not oppose this rule because we want more guns in our community. This is about more than guns. Adding more innocent Americans to the National Instant Criminal Background database because of a mental disability is a disturbing trend — one that could be applied to voting, parenting or other rights dearer than gun ownership. We opposed it because it would do little to stem gun violence but do much to harm our civil rights.

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Thanks. I know it seems easy to say this is not a good idea, but I feel it reinforces stigma against those with mental illness.


Overall, I support the general premise of this statement, however, I don't not support the insinuation that gun rights are somehow less important than other rights ("other rights dearer than gun ownership"). Is not the right to self-defense one of the dearest rights?


You statement is a logical fallacy. Gun rights And the "right" to self defense are not the same. At all. One can defend herself with mace, martial arts, a key ring, a whistle, a foot, her fists, a knife, a taser, a stick, a gun, and many other things.


I agree! The right to protect ourselves is something we should aggressively defend. A gun being one of the most effective tools in protecting our own lives.


"or other rights dearer than gun ownership"

For those of us who actually care about the entire penumbra of civil rights, how would you suggest we start ranking our dear individual liberties? Should we start first with those we see and use daily, or those recommended by ACLU? Can we see your ranking methodology? Or is it a bracket, like college basketball? If our city doesn't stop-and-frisk, should I rank the 4th Amendment lower? If I don't want to protest or write political manifestos, does that place the free speech as the "least dear," right? If I've never been arrested, can I completely sell-out on Gideon and Miranda?

Plz advise - asking for a friend.


If only our civil liberties were ranked some way, say, in a neat list of rights, perhaps...?


I have to agree with the other comments on the 'ranking' of 'dearest rights.' None of the Constitutional amendments are more important than the others. Rather, they support and uphold each other. The main purpose of the 2nd amendment, for example, is to ensure the protection of all the other amendments by allowing an armed citizenry to overthrow any oppressive government that may potentially arise. Though ideally we would use our rights to free speech and assembly first.


The original intent of the Second Amendment was clearly and unambiguously (if you read the history of its drafting and passage) to guarantee that members of the state militias (which were to be used for national defense given the lack of a standing army) the right to have guns for use in their militia duties. ("A well regulated militia, being necessary for the defense ..."). With the advent of the standing military and the administrative consolidation of the state militias into the National Guard, the Second Amendment has lost most of its original purpose.


This is in response to Anonymous reply to your comment ( since I cant respond to it directly)

From the Federalist Papers by James Madison

"Besides the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation, the existence of subordinate governments, to which the people are attached, and by which the militia officers are appointed, forms a barrier against the enterprises of ambition, more insurmountable than any which a simple government of any form can admit of. Notwithstanding the military establishments in the several kingdoms of Europe, which are carried as far as the public resources will bear, the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms. And it is not certain, that with this aid alone they would not be able to shake off their yokes. But were the people to possess the additional advantages of local governments chosen by themselves, who could collect the national will and direct the national force, and of officers appointed out of the militia, by these governments, and attached both to them and to the militia, it may be affirmed with the greatest assurance, that the throne of every tyranny in Europe would be speedily overturned in spite of the legions which surround it"


it is true that most serial killers are young white men but most murderers are young black men


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