UPDATE: “Mental health” will be a screen for gun ownership

President Obama’s executive action on gun control includes one of the provisions about which we fretted a couple of years ago.

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I like to camp in the woods and hunt animals.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I want to be able to defend my business in case of Ferguson-style rioting.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I want to defend myself in case of an Islamic terrorist attack.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.]

. . .

Bureaucrat:  Why do you want to acquire a gun?

Citizen:  I fear government tyranny.

Bureaucrat:  [Marks “mentally ill” in his notebook.  Adds Citizen to the FBI watch list.]

The framework starts, according to Politico, with “enabl[ing] health care providers to report the names of mentally ill patients to an FBI firearms background check system.”  Even if this is all that will be in place, what could possibly go wrong?  Let’s see:  delays in background checks; false positives and name mix-ups, followed by a bureaucratic maze akin to the “no-fly” list; data sharing that will find someone’s supposed mental illness being recorded elsewhere; data breaches, either intentional (government bureaucrats spying on their neighbors or their daughter’s boyfriends) or negligent (e.g., OPM); new liability risks for doctors who are found to have treated patients who later commit gun crimes but did not report them.

An even bigger risk is when this program expands, to become compulsory, eventually resulting in an affirmative mental health check being a prerequisite to gun ownership.  “The administration has taken great pain to try to clarify that there is very limited information that would be reported only within a very limited group,” quotes the credulous Politico article, which naturally only cites “mental health” and gun control advocates and does not raise any of these potential pitfalls.

Luckily, we needn’t worry about a government program that begins with “very limited information that would be reported only within a very limited group” and greatly expands, often surreptitiously, thereafter.

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