“The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” said NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
As recent reporting shows, the nation’s laws concerning well-armed and dangerous people with a mental illness are barely even bothered by those good guys with guns.
In a lengthy article in Sunday’s New York Times, reporters examined “a central, unresolved issue in the debate over balancing public safety and the Second Amendment right to bear arms: just how powerless law enforcement can be when it comes to keeping firearms out of the hands of people who are mentally ill.”
In case after case, reporters Michael Luo and Mike McIntire described men who were (a.) clearly struggling with severe mental problems, (b.) well-stocked with firearms and (c.) making legitimate threats to harm others and themselves.
In far too many cases, the best law-enforcers could do was to temporarily confiscate weapons of the disturbed person.
The Times reported on a 55-year-old Connecticut man suffering from paranoid schizophrenia who earlier this year had 18 firearms removed from his trailer after threatening his family.
Police can only hold the weapons for so long. “I plan to get all my guns and ammo and knives back in April,” the man told reporters.
Keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill should be a point of wide agreement in the United States. Shootings in Washington, D.C., Aurora, Colo., Newtown and elsewhere ought to be enough to spur lawmakers to action. Not all people with a mental illness are dangerous, but there should be tougher laws to disarm those who are shown to be a lethal threat.
Newtown could have been that wakeup call. Instead, too many states, including Alabama, went in the opposite direction. They passed laws that made it tougher for good guys in police uniforms to keep guns out of the hands of potentially dangerous people.