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The Unworkable Federal Mental Health Background Check

The more I watch government drama and how political animals jockey around to try to gain the most mileage from each and every issue they take on, the more I am convinced that we desperately need to eviscerate the size and scope of the federal government and let the states do what only they can do best.

Personally, while I know it is infuriating — even at the state level — to watch zealous legislators take advantage of every major event to draft more regulations and laws that infringe on our freedoms, listening to the federal drama over gun-control efforts reinforces why this issue should be left to states to deal with.

At this point, many talking heads are stating that one area that everyone can agree on in the debate over gun-control is to strengthen background checks — especially of the mentally ill — when someone wants to purchase a gun.

Sounds simple, succinct and would surely prevent more Connecticut massacres, wouldn’t it? Hardly.

It would be another grandiose idea that would violate the 2nd Amendment rights of every person who has ever sought counseling and prove impossible to implement, especially at the federal level.

The first huge hurdle is how could this be done without violating the strict confidentiality laws that are designed to protect the privacy of those who seek mental health treatment? And who would be the mandated reporter? The patient, the counselor or a family member? Does that mean that every time someone seeks marriage counseling or suffers from mild depression and goes on an anti-depressant for six months, they must be reported to this federal data base and prevented from ever purchasing guns? And what about our beloved warriors returning from the middle east with PTSD? Should they be permanently stigmatized and never allowed to own a firearm because they sought professional help and needed a little time to decompress after years of being on the battle field defending our freedoms? (An oxymoronic idea laced with hypocrisy.)

Maybe we would have to devise a system whereby mental health diagnoses — which can be very arbitrary and many times wrongly diagnosed — would be two-tiered sort of like we do with criminals who commit misdemeanors vs. felonies. Certainly, paranoid schizophrenics are more dangerous than someone who is suffering from post-partum depression. What about people with eating disorders? Surely they could not be trusted to own a firearm. The list could go on and on until the feds convince themselves they are the only ones who can be trusted to own guns.

These ideas are ridiculous. The answers lie at the state level. Trying to impose feel-good answers from Washington will never work and is a waste of time. Get over yourselves, Washington, and let the states deal with this issue as they see fit.

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