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For Want of a Single Word, Innocent Gun Owners Can Be Jailed

Bob Rogers

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 – Adjudicated. It is within the power of an appointed judge to decide if a person – man or woman – should go to prison or other confinement. Depending on the charge, an alleged subject could lose his or her rights to keep and bear arms. Elsewhere on these pages marked with yesterday’s dateline is the headline, Carney-backed legislation looks to keep guns away from those with mental illness. “Carney” is Delaware Governor John Carney “who is backing legislation that would allow a judge to bar someone from owning a gun if a mental health worker tells police the person is dangerous to themselves or others,” according to the story in The Delaware Journal. Thus the word “adjudicated” becomes of primary significance. Because Delaware is influenced by anti-gun politics, that leaves the decision up to a judge’s ideological mindset.

Does a “mental health worker” have tacit education to judge a person dangerous to themselves or others? And on what grounds? “Mental health” can mean many things to different people. If you’re depressed, for example, and show signs of what some semi-qualified person thinks is possible suicidal tendencies, should you be automatically deemed to be “dangerous to themselves or others?”

A tragic report emerged today about a Washington State University backup quarterback who apparently shot himself in the head with a rifle, leaving a suicide note. Details of the note are not yet available so we can only speculate why he took the action he did. His most well-known effort as a QB for his team came when he threw for 240 yards and three touchdowns last season in beating Boise State in a dramatic come-from-behind 47-44 victory over Boise State. While we don’t yet know the reason for his suicidal actions, should someone have declared him as “dangerous to himself or others?”

The fine line between something so complex as personally afflicted unnatural death remains considerably irresolute and, at best, seems to require highly qualified and accomplished experts to cast such judgments that may result in firearms disarmament. For all we know, the young man might have been a hunter. Should some dubious mental health worker be given the power to declare him “dangerous” without the combination of higher level professional diagnosis plus declaration by a qualified judge that the promising pro-ball player should face losing his second amendment rights?

There are no easy answers for mental health difficulties. But until an extensive database of adjudicated individuals is constructed, no one’s rights to self-determination should be cast into the waves of discontent simply based upon what “some mental health worker” witnesses.

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