| || |
Heitkamp was right to vote against comprehensive background checks
April 18, 2013 - Andrea Johnson
Good for Heidi Heitkamp.
Heitkamp was one of four Democratic Senators who voted against comprehensive background check legislation yesterday, attracting criticism from the party at large. North Dakota Senator John Hoeven, a Republican, also voted against the legislation, as did the majority of Republicans.
Heitkamp said, and I agree, that "the focus should be on mental health issues, full and accurate reporting into the NICS database and ensuring that we are prosecuting criminals in possession of or trying to possess fire arms. The conversation should be about what is in people's minds, not about what is in their hands." She added that the legislation would have imposed too great a burden on law-abiding gun owners.
Heitkamp is entirely correct. A comprehensive background check would not have prevented the recent shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Connecticut that claimed 26 lives or other mass shootings. The perpetrators in those cases used legally obtained firearms.
However, a stronger mental health system might have saved some of those victims. Jared Loughner, the perpetrator of the January 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage, is a diagnosed paranoid schizophrenic. James Holmes, the suspect in the Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooting last summer, also reportedly suffers from severe mental illness. Adam Lanza, the killer of the children and teachers at Sandy Hook, also apparently had serious mental health issues.
It should be easier than it is for the relatives and friends of people like those men to get them help. Unfortunately, the mental health system has been gutted in the past 30 years and existing laws make it extremely difficult to force an adult with an untreated mental illness to get help until he has actually hurt himself or others. Parents are sometimes forced to surrender custody of a child with severe mental illness to the government to get them the help they need because the cost of treatment is so prohibitive. I encourage Heitkamp and others in Congress to tackle the broken mental health care system.
However, Heitkamp was right to vote against comprehensive background checks for all citizens. Her vote represents the wishes of most North Dakotans, those who voted for her and those who didn't.
Post a Comment
News, Blogs & Events Web