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This month, Congress repealed a rule that would have registered thousands of Social Security recipients with mental disabilities, who have others manage their benefits, into the National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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Judy

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.

judy

This is too simplistic- it is not necessary to put a stigma on all mental illness- what we are looking at is being aware and reporting and following through when there are multiple signs in the cases such as Nicholas Cruz He should have been flagged, but it seems school policy made it so problems were not reported. If you are worried about a stigma, could not other children be killed? There is a difference between seeking counseling and being a person with a mental problem so deep that this would happen. Please do not simplify because of a stigma. There is a difference.

Anonymous123

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?

Anonymous

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.

Noah

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.

Cheryl

Actually without the second amendment you lose every other right pretty quickly. Also wrong my right to never be sexually assaulted again is everything to me. And for once the ACLU got it right.

Anonymous

the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed ...let me emphasize again the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed. It doesn't say the right of the people to keep and bear Arms except guns especially guns that are semiautomatic with large clips, shall not be infringed.

prsmith

Anonymous,

You don't take a knife or mace or whatever to a gun fight. The bad guys have guns - the good guys must also have guns.

Anonymous

"You statement is a logical fallacy"
no his statement isnt fallacy. YOUR statement is fallacy.
you cannot defend yourself against a gun, using a knife.
the fact is, you need a tool appropriate to counteract the attackers tool.
and unless attackers unanimously decide they wont buy/steal/make guns anymore (and we become stupid enough to believe the word of criminals), then all tools must be made available to potential victims for self-defence purposes.

Anonymous

While I don’t disagree with the general premise of the ACLU action, I often see text of the second amendment as above taken out of context.

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A well regulated Militia. Near the time this was written, congress passed the Militia acts which seemingly were intended to define what “well regulated” meant. “Well regulated” at the time referred to organization and training.

All “able bodied men” between the ages of 18 and I believe 52 were compelled to serve in the militia. They were organized into refinements, required to report twice a year for training, required to maintain a list of provisions and equipment, and compelled to report for duty if called up.

It wasn’t until the 2008 Heller case, supported by the NRA, which disconnected the second amendment from military service. This differed from prior Supreme Court cases.

I’m not opposed to private gun ownership at all and am a gun owner myself... but from the way I read it, the founders feared a centralized army and attempted to disperse military power amongst he citizenry. There was some dissection I this approach and if you read quotes from general Washington you’ll find he had a tremendous disdain for this approach and the militia in general, calling them “not worth the bread they eat”.

So when fragments of the second amendment are taken in islotation and out of the original context the intent seems lost. The framers envisionsled a “well regulated” citizen militia which at the time included everyone... so they needed “the right to bear arms”

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