Antigun group attacks NICS bill
the Joyce Foundation bankrolled Violence Policy Center's press release of today. The high points:
"The "NICS Improvement Act" passed today by the Senate would:
-- Resuscitate a failed government program that spent millions of dollars annually to allow persons prohibited from buying guns to regain the ability to legally acquire firearms. The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) would be required to establish a "relief from disability" program to allow persons now prohibited from possessing a firearm because they have "been adjudicated as a mental defective" or "committed to a mental institution" to apply to have their bar on firearms possession removed. As a result of the bill, more than 116,000 individuals would be eligible to apply.... Under the bill, states would also be required to establish such "relief" programs to restore the gun privileges of those with mental health disabilities in order to be eligible for potential grant money to upgrade records submitted to the NICS.
-- Set an arbitrary time limit for the VA to act on applications for "relief." If the agency fails to act within 365 days, applicants could file a lawsuit asking a court to restore their gun privileges, even if Congress fails to provide the VA with the appropriate resources to process these investigations. Some prevailing applicants would be entitled to attorneys' fees. ...
-- Significantly narrow the category of records of people with mental disabilities that would be submitted to the NICS by the federal government. The current permanent bar on persons with certain health disabilities would be replaced with temporary restrictions.
Kristen Rand, legislative director of the Violence Policy Center, states, "This bill was intended to be Congress' response to the mass shooting at Virginia Tech that left 32 people murdered. But rather than focusing on improving the current laws prohibiting people with certain mental health disabilities from buying guns, the bill is now nothing more than a gun lobby wish list. It will waste millions of taxpayer dollars restoring the gun privileges of persons previously determined to present a danger to themselves or others. Once a solution, the bill is now part of the problem."
Josh Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, adds, "It is ironic that the gun lobby has coerced the Senate into providing resources to rearm mentally disabled veterans during a time when the VA is struggling to provide adequate mental health care to those in need."