No, Congress Isn’t Letting Mentally Ill People Get Guns

No, Congress Isn’t Letting Mentally Ill People Get Guns

The rule in question does not, in fact, ‘keep guns from the mentally ill,’ and repealing it will not allow the mentally ill access to firearms.
Daniel Payne
By

Why do the media lie so spectacularly and regularly about guns? Nominally the answer is, “Because there are a lot of liberals in the media, and liberals generally do not like guns all that much.” But this is only half an answer, because at some point one imagines shame would kick in and the lies would eventually stop.

Well, it apparently doesn’t and they apparently won’t. The latest gun lie comes courtesy of numerous major media outlets and media figures. “Senate wants to block rule on guns and the mentally ill,” says PBS. “Congress Just Repealed Rules To Keep Guns From The Mentally Ill,“ says the Huffington Post. “Senate votes to block rule meant to prevent people with mental disorders from purchasing guns,” says the Hartford Courant.

Congress just repealed a rule to keep the mentally ill from buying guns,” tweeted Huffington Post editor Marina Fang. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow declared that Republicans were voting to “make it easier for seriously mentally ill people to get guns.” The Associated Press announced: “Congress blocks rule barring mentally impaired from guns.” USA Today termed the vote “the gun lobby’s brazen attempt to tap into a market of seriously mentally ill Americans.”

The headlines continue: “Congress Says, Let the Mentally Ill Buy Guns” (The New York Times); “Senate votes to let mentally ill people buy guns” (AOL News); “Congress Blocks Rule Barring Mentally Impaired From Buying Guns” (NBC News); ”Congress nixes regulation that would block gun sales to mentally ill” (Christian Science Monitor); “Mentally ill, and armed” (Vice); “Republicans in Congress just made it easier for mentally ill people to get guns” (Washington Post). “Senate abolishes Sandy Hook gun rule to keep guns from the mentally ill” (“The Today Show”).

These are all spectacularly shameless lies, almost superlatively so, the kind of lie you might have told when you were five years old and unable come up with anything better. The rule in question does not, in fact—fact being the key word here—“keep guns from the mentally ill,” and repealing it will not allow the mentally ill access to firearms. This is a falsehood, one that would require roughly 3.5 seconds of fact checking to disprove. Where are the fact-checkers? They have all apparently gone on vacation, leaving a bunch of third-rate copyediting staffers in place to write the false copy.

Really, It’s You’re Mentally Ill If You Want Guns

As the AP itself noted just a few lines beneath its categorically dishonest headline, the rule did not affect “seriously mentally ill Americans” but rather “[Social Security] beneficiaries with mental impairments who also have a third party manage their benefits.” As the Obama administration defined it, requiring some financial help to manage your government benefits is enough to strip you of your constitutional rights. According to the media, it’s enough to get you labeled, in Maddow’s words, “seriously mentally ill.” (Maddow added: “I swear I’m not kidding.”)

Ask yourself: do you want to live in a country wherein innocent citizens are denied their fundamental rights because they need some financial management assistance?

Most reasonable people would not. Indeed, a great many reasonable people opposed the Obama rule: not just the National Rifle Association but also “the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities, the Disability Law Center of Alaska, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Association of County Behavioral Health and Developmental Disability Directors, the National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy, the National Association for Rural Mental Health, the National Council on Disability, the National Council of Independent Living, the National Coalition of Mental Health Recovery, the National Disability Leadership Alliance, the National Disability Rights Network, the New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, and Safari Club International,” as well as the American Civil Liberties Union, the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, and numerous other advocacy organizations.

Were these groups also engaged in a “brazen attempt” to sell guns to mentally ill people? Or were they concerned about and opposed to an arbitrary and capricious rule from an incompetent and vindictive administration? The media did not even bother to look, much less care. They just wanted to lie, so they did.

Either way, it looks like this law is on its way out. Thank goodness. In the meantime, we can expect the media to continue to lie about it—and to lie about the next gun issue that arises, and the next one after that. It’s what they do.

Daniel Payne is a senior contributor at the Federalist. He is an assistant editor for The College Fix, the news magazine of the Student Free Press Association. Daniel's work has appeared in outlets such as National Review Online, Reason, Front Porch Republic, and elsewhere. His personal blog can be found at Trial of the Century. He lives in Virginia.

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