It’s safe to say that most of the recent mass shootings have been perpetrated by men with serious mental problems. Who in his right mind could turn automatic weapons on innocent people going about their business in malls, offices, schools and movie theaters?
So it was good news the other day when Gov. Rick Scott signed into law a bill to close a loophole in Florida gun laws that permitted some persons with mental illness to buy guns. But not everyone agrees with that statement. The governor’s office was flooded with almost 25,000 emails urging him to veto the bill.
Why would anyone want to allow mentally ill people to buy guns? Because the bill applies to people who have voluntarily submitted themselves to mental health exams or treatments. The old law allowed such people to buy guns once they are released from mental health institutions. The new law requires a judge and doctor to concur that an individual is no longer a danger to himself or others in order to get off the database of those prohibited from buying a gun.
To the surprise of many, even Marion Hammer wanted Scott to sign the bill. The longtime National Rifle Association lobbyist seldom gets behind any restriction on gun ownership, but even she could see the sensible justification for this one. In fact, she and her allies flooded the governor’s office with 200,000 emails asking Scott to sign the bill.
As was noted in our Village Square forum on guns held on May 22nd, (http://bit.ly/120hazK) the Second Amendment‘s guarantee of the right to bear arms is not voided by reasonable restrictions to protect public safety. No “right” is absolute; no “liberty” is open-ended. Preventing harm to others seems a reasonable limitation.
By David Klement
Executive Director, Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions
St. Petersbug College