Editorial: Well-stocked and dangerous — Keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness is a priority
by The Anniston Star Editorial Board
Dec 23, 2013 | 1838 views |  0 comments | 22 22 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Steve Anderson kneels to attach paper bells to signs calling for No More Silence End Gun Violence on a metal fence at the front of Friendship Fountain Park. Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 was the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown Conn., a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are holding memorial vigils -- with silence and also the ringing of bells -- around the country.  The Jacksonville, Fla., event was held at the Friendship Fountain Park. Photo: The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack/The Associated Press
Steve Anderson kneels to attach paper bells to signs calling for No More Silence End Gun Violence on a metal fence at the front of Friendship Fountain Park. Saturday Dec. 14, 2013 was the anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown Conn., a group called Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America are holding memorial vigils -- with silence and also the ringing of bells -- around the country. The Jacksonville, Fla., event was held at the Friendship Fountain Park. Photo: The Florida Times-Union, Bob Mack/The Associated Press
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In the frenzied reaction to last December’s school shooting that left 20 schoolchildren and six adults dead in Newtown, Conn., the National Rifle Association offered its solution to the ongoing tragedy of mass shootings.

“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.
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