The Current Crop Of Whoppers On Capitol Hill

The vote on a bill to restrict the Second Amendment rights of people in America is described as still “too close to call”. The story, as reported in FloridaToday.com, goes under the heading, Background check plan needs GOP.

Words, words, words–it all becomes a blur, especially when so many of those words are just plain lies.

The plan would “strengthen the background check system without in any way infringing on Second Amendment rights,” Maine Sen. Susan Collins said in a statement explaining her support for the measure. But she added that “it is impossible to predict at this point” what will be in a final bill.

Excuse me, Senator Collins. If you are going to enter the names of people, many of whom are citizens, who AREN’T criminals, into a criminal background check system, for the express reason of denying them their Second Amendment rights, you CANNOT do so without infringing on Second Amendment rights.

Do I need to repeat myself!?

These background check measures that may be pushed through congress are unconstitutional so long as we have a bill of rights, but this is hardly the first time we’ve had unconstitutional laws on the books. If I remember correctly there was once this remedy to the mixing of the races called Jim Crow for the longest kind of time in the southern states of the USA.

The measure requires background checks for people buying guns at gun shows and online. Background checks currently apply only to transactions handled by the country’s 55,000 licensed gun dealers. Private transactions, such as a sale of a gun between family members, would still be exempt.

Thus, family members will still be able to sell arms to ex-felons, illegal aliens, spousal abusers, mental patients, and other errant human beings, and all is hunky dory. It is just licensed gun dealers who won’t be able to make such sales.

[Senator Joe] Manchin urged lawmakers to read the 49-page proposal. He said it should dispel any misconceptions about infringing on the constitutional right to bear arms.

I’m sorry. It will take more than a 49-page booklet to convince me that legislation enacted expressly for the purpose of infringing on the constitutional right of American citizens to bear arms is not legislation infringing on the constitutional right of American citizens to bear arms. When you diminish the citizenship of a segment of the population by subtracting this right or that, usually we have to call this subtracting, or restriction if you will, an infringement.

This attack on civil liberties and civil rights is plowing ahead full stream. It has been in effect, through unevenly enforced, since the insanity defense was used to condemn and excuse John Hinkley for shooting President Reagan. Blast the insanity defense! Incarceration should be about punishment, and not about therapeutic rehabilitation, regardless of the criminal’s mental state at the time of the commission of the crime. “Mental illness”, that ‘will o’the wisp’ of consensus reality, should not be an used to excuse people from punishment for criminal activities and, likewise, ill health should not be used as an excuse to imprison people.

Civil Rights Under Seige

If you thought former President George W. Bush, who wanted to screen every man, woman, and child of us for “mental illness” was bad, President Barack O’bama has climbed onto the same band wagon. President Obama essentially wants to turn our entire public education system into a mental health police state.

According to a report in the Bangor Daily News on the subject, White House wants $235 million for mental health programs.

President Barack Obama’s budget proposal will include $235 million in funding for new mental health programs focused on initiatives to help schools detect early warning signs and train thousands of new mental health professionals, an administration official said.

Alright that sounds benign enough, but just keep reading.

The new budget plan will propose $130 million for programs that train teachers and other adults to help recognize the early signs of mental illness in students. That includes $55 million for a new program called Project AWARE (Advancing Wellness and Resilience in Education), which will give states and local school districts grants to administer such programs, while also collecting data on how well they work.

I’ve got nothing against ‘wellness’ nor ‘resilience’, I just have many reservations about whether that’s what we’re going to get out of these programs or not. On the other hand, training people to recognize signs of “mental illness” can be very questionable, especially when one of those early signs is being under the age of 18.

Another $50 million would go toward training master’s-level mental health specialists, such as psychologists, nurses and counselors, who work in schools. The idea is to expand the mental health workforce to prepare for the demands of millions of Americans who will gain health insurance coverage next year under the Affordable Care Act.

The “mental illness” labeling rate has been skyrocketing for years. Imagine the present “mental illness” labeling rate. Imagine that rate going up even further. It’s got to be extremely difficult to sell insurance plans, treatment options, and anti-“stigma” campaigns, without also selling the “diseases” that go along with them.

The consequences of this “mental illness” selling platform doesn’t concern the President very much as, following the Newton Connecticut tragedy, making scapegoats of people in the mental health system rather than achieving any real gun control legislation is one way for him to give the appearance that he’s doing something about the problem of gunmen in schoolyards. I’m afraid it is going to be causative in so far as increased “mental illness” labeling is concerned, and I’m also afraid that it’s not going to be preventative when it comes to massive acts of violence.

Sooner or later, later apparently, it’s going to come around to acknowledging that these citizens who have had their citizenship rights taken away from them are still citizens. Then comes the revelation, now that we’ve got two unequal castes of citizens, how do we refer to them? Dividing people into sick and well no longer works as what we’ve actually got is a legal distinction rather than a medical one. Sick people get well. Lower class citizens get lower wages, if they get wages at all, substandard living conditions, and the distinction of being deprived of their constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Repercussions from the Sandy Hook tragedy slight in Florida

It looks like Florida may not suffer as extensively from the fallout over the Newtown Connecticut massacre as some other states. The Palm Beach Post headline,  State May Shrink Mental Health Spending, doesn’t tell the whole story.

Despite a growth in the state’s anticipated revenue for the first time in six years, Gov. Rick Scott’s proposed 2013-2014 budget does not include any increase for mental health services. Neither Scott nor GOP legislative leaders mentioned the issue as a priority on the opening day of the legislative session Tuesday. And lawmakers appear split on the only two proposals in play — mandatory mental health screening of elementary school students and extending the observation period for patients who are involuntarily committed by law enforcement or health officials.

The problem concerns these two pieces of legislation that I hope our legislators will have the common sense and decency to table or vote down. Busting school children for “mental illness” is what mandatory mental health screening is all about and, frankly, if there’s one thing we don’t need, that is it. Labeling children “mentally ill”, and putting them on powerful pharmaceuticals, is not good for their educations, nor is it good for their futures. Extending the Baker Act would be a completely absurd, unnecessary, and as far as humanity goes, a wasteful thing to do.

Thankfully, given our republican controlled legislature, as bad as things are, these representatives are not in hurry to make them worse. Praised be the tightwad when the spending he isn’t spending on is repressive and draconian legislation.

The issue with spending is that it could, if it were used for something else besides busting people for “mental illness”, reduce mental health spending in the state anyway.

More than half of Florida’s mental health spending goes to hospitalization. Other states, on average, spend less than 30 percent on hospitalization, said Florida Council for Community Mental Health President Bob Sharpe.

Hospitalization is very costly. Keeping people out of the state hospital system through building a statewide community mental health care system is one way to potentially save a lot of money.

As for the Baker Act…

DCF estimates that 35,000 out of 110,770 people held under the Baker Act last year had been Baker Acted before. Sharpe points to at least one man who was Baker Acted 100 times in a single year, meaning he was hospitalized nearly the entire year.

It would seem that one person would have a pretty good case for suing the state, if he had any legal rights to stand on at all, which apparently, as a mental patient, he doesn’t.  On the other hand, when the state can Baker Act one person 100 times in the course of a single year, there is certainly no reason to extend the Baker Act. It seems institutions here have that power already.

Civil rights and civil liberties lose ground along the beltway

Generally, and to make it look good, in the context of mental health care gun restriction laws only go after people who have come under some kind of court order. The criteria for civil commitment, after all, most typically has something to do with being construed ‘a danger to oneself or others’. The legislature of the state of Maryland though has outdone itself by enacting laws to restrict gun use among former patients who went into the hospital voluntarily.

The story, as reported at delmarvaNow.com, bears the heading, Mental illness gun report usage questioned.

The gathering took place just hours after the Senate Judicial Proceedings committee passed Gov. Martin O’Malley’s gun bill with an amendment to restrict access to guns by voluntarily admitted patients.

Now the fact that former mental patients aren’t violent as a rule didn’t seem to phase the law makers behind this legislation one bit. Nor the fact that people labeled “mentally ill” are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violent crime, by a 3 to 1 margin, according to one recent study.

Previously only those involuntarily hospitalized for mental illnesses were placed on a list of individuals who cannot purchase regulated guns in Maryland, according to the bill.

Personally I have a great deal of trepidation about restricting the constitutional rights of my fellow Americans, even when those fellow Americans have seen harder times than the average citizen.

This is certainly a shot in the arm for so called “stigma”. I could not see myself in good faith encouraging anybody to enter a psychiatric facility if it was going to mean, as it will in Maryland, a reduction of his or her rights as a citizen.

Governmental Persecution of Former Mental Patients

What’s wrong with entering the names of people who have been in the mental health system into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database, and barring them from gun purchases?

1. The law behind this action deprives US citizens who have committed no crime of their constitutional second amendment right to bear arms. In doing so, it is an UNCONSTITUTIONAL and, therefore, ILLEGAL law.

2. The act of depriving this group of their second amendment rights is an example of PREJUDICE directed people who have been on the receiving end of the mental health system. People who have received mental health treatment are being made the SCAPEGOATS for gun violence in this nation, and gun violence for which they are absolutely in no way, shape, or form responsible; they are being made to pay for gun violence of which they are completely INNOCENT.

3. Statistics show people who have received treatment for psychiatric labels to be more often the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators. They are, as a rule, peaceful, law abiding, and NONVIOLENT citizens. As they are more often the victims of violent crime than the perpetrators, and as it is merely a few frustrated and failed individuals for whom they are taking the rap. This rap is a matter of extreme prejudice, and it is entirely unjustified.

4. Placing the names of former mental patients on, of all things, a criminal background check list, is a blatant example of CRIMINALIZING people who have had mental health treatment. As I pointed out, most of them have broken no laws, and they are, therefore, not criminals. Not being criminals, there is no reason to place them on such a list.

5. When black people are harassed at traffic stops on account of their skin color by law enforcement, we call this harassment racial profiling. Use of the names and information entered into this database are going to be used, as that is its purpose, for doing psychiatric or MENTAL HEALTH PROFILING, that is, targeting former mental patients for harassment by law enforcement. This is not the way we should be treating our fellow citizens, neighbors, and human beings.

6. Through the names and information entered into this database police officers and federal agents are going to have access to people’s mental health treatment records. This access amounts to a BREACH OF CONFIDENTIALITY between patient and therapist at a massive level. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was designed to guard people’s confidential relationships for health reasons, but the law pertains to the mental health system and civil actions, and it can be entirely superseded by the criminal justice system. The result of these breaches ultimately usually serves neither health nor justice.

We’ve got better things to do with our time and energy than to CONDEMN people UNTO PERPETUITY for the mental health treatment they have received. This NICS database only represents one more way of furthering the misfortunes of people who have experienced the mental health system  first hand as patients. It constitutes one more INJURY directed against this group of people, and as such, it cannot be said to be in the interests of mental health and recovery to maintain it.

Let me reiterate for the sake of those of you who may not have been paying attention. The law behind the NICS database is unconstitutional. It is illegal. Former mental patients are being made the scapegoats for violence in this country. Entering information on former mental patients onto a criminal background check database is a form of criminalization. This list is going to be used for mental health profiling, that is, police harassment. It is also going to be used to disarm innocent people who are more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of violent crime. It is a massive government intrusion and an invasion of privacy. It serves neither the interests of social justice nor of mental health.

Okay then. Why the bad law? Law makers, confronted with a monumental tragedy in the form of a number of copy cat crimes, have to give the impression that they are doing something to relieve the situation. Unfortunately, it is more important for them to do something about the issue than it is for them to do something about the issue that is effective or that makes sense. They have their electorate to think about. If they do nothing, they are going to be savaged in the media and by the public. If they have no guilty parties in custody, then someone is going to have to take the heat. In this case, that someone is the set of people who have done time in mental institutions.

Governor Seeks To Change Massachusetts Law For The Worse

The performance of various states differs when it comes to ratting out people who have done time in the Loony Bin. It has been reported that 14 states, for example, have 5 or fewer people listed on the federal background check database for reasons of mental health.

I recently had a close encounter with a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, Mass. doesn’t share mental health data. Apparently in Massachusetts it’s illegal to provide the government with information on a person’s mental health treatment background.

Massachusetts has among the toughest gun laws in the nation, but a 43-year-old law bars the state from providing mental health records to an FBI database for gun background checks.

Of course, when it comes to law breakers there are no law breakers like law keepers, take the FBI, for instance.

The Boston Globe reports that the FBI has processed 1.6 million background checks of Bay State residents who seek to buy guns from federally licensed dealers.

The governor is trying to bring Massachusetts law in line with much of the rest of the nation as far as  the oppression, harassment, and persecution of mental patients and former mental patients is concerned.

Gov. Deval Patrick has twice tried unsuccessfully to get legislative approval for the sharing of mental health data, but both have failed in part because of opposition from gun rights activists.

One of his most recent proposals involves calling for universal background checks in his state to include mental health information.

This insistence begs the question of a citizen’s constitutional rights to bare arms. The federal government has been persistently violating the 2nd amendment rights of a good number of citizens on the grounds that it has them on this list. Officials in Massachusetts, in other words, are not the only folks violating the law.

The news of this friction only goes to further substantiate the recent flurry of rumors about a rash of ‘schizophrenia’ outbreaks in high places, especially among officials in state and federal government..