It seems like common sense: mentally ill citizens shouldn’t have access to guns. Republicans and the NRA promote this policy, perhaps as a way to seem conciliatory while opposing more radical restrictions of gun ownership. But conservatives should be loath to concede, let alone expand, our country’s half-century trend of over-diagnosing and over-medicating supposed psychiatric problems. Jacob Sullum reports on government statistics saying that nearly half of all Americans could be diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder at some point in their lives.
Think of all the unintended (or perhaps proponents intend them) consequences: the end of doctor-patient privilege in many cases, government amassing databases of individuals’ mental health, monitoring of citizens’ actions and thoughts, and further exploding of the psychiatrist/social worker/government bureaucrat complex. If one were trying to conceive a seemingly-benign first step toward Stalinist persecution of “mentally ill” dissenters, this would be a winner. Guns are dangerous, so dangerous people shouldn’t have easy access to them. Speech can be dangerous, too.
Think of the new HHS Administration for Mental Health Screening and Monitoring. We can just see the process now: if you list “protection from government tyranny” as your reason to want to acquire a gun, then you’ll be deemed as ipso facto mentally unfit.*
(*This reminds us of a scene from Airplane! II. Paraphrasing a bit, the dialogue goes something like this: Patient in bed in psychiatric ward, looking at his bill, screams: “I can’t stand it! $2,000 a day! For horrible food, lousy doctors, rotten nurses. . .” Patient in next bed, talking with doctor: “Doctor, what’s his problem?” Doctor: “He’s obviously crazy.”)
Update: Courtesy of Alex Jones, New York Police Confiscating Firearms from People Taking Anti-anxiety Medication