“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”
So saideth Rahm Emanuel, former political adviser to President Obama – who has taken said advice to heart and effectively made it his own 11th Commandment.
But it’s not just Democrats who swoop in to take advantage of a crisis. Alas, trying to capitalize on the raw emotional pain of a tragedy for political gain is one of the truest examples of bipartisanship you’ll find in the universe.
Indeed, Nevada state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, Reno Republican, is using both last year’s tragedy of the Newtown, Connecticut “gun free zone” massacre and the bizarre case of Nevada state Assemblyman Steven Brooks’ alleged threat against a legislative colleague to promote passage of a new gun control measure.
In an email to me, Kieckhefer said his proposal is to prohibit individuals from purchasing a gun who “are being held against their will at a psychiatric hospital who have been diagnosed with mental illnessÖand who mental health professionals believe is an imminent danger to themselves or other people.”
Sounds pretty reasonable, right? But wait a minute…
If a person is being held against their will in a psychiatric hospital, how in the world are they going to get to The Gun Store to purchase a gun? Or do they have AK-47 dispensaries in the psyche wards that we all don’t know about?
Kidding aside, if Kieckhefer is worried that current law could allow someone diagnosed as possibly being a threat to the community to be released from a mental health facility, then shouldn’t the solution be to change the law that allows such dangerous folks back on the street? After all, a danger to society can harm people with knives, hammers, baseball bats, axes and even his bare hands, right?
Why only target guns?
Indeed, what Kieckhefer’s proposal would actually do is enter into the federal criminal database the names of individuals who have been tentatively diagnosed as suffering from a severe mental illness but who have NOT yet had their due process day in court and have NOT yet been formally committed to a mental health institution by a judge.
Being named in that database would prevent the individual from legally purchasing a gun. (Of course, obtaining one illegally is another story altogether.)
At its heart, the Kieckhefer proposal would essentially declare someone guilty until proven innocent. And unless I miss my guess, that’s the exact opposite of what we supposedly stand for in this country.
Another troubling fact in this is that Kieckhefer reportedly consulted with all manner of individuals and entities before announcing his proposal. Conspicuous by their absence in these consultations: The National Rifle Association. Or any other gun rights advocates.
Watch out for this one, folks.
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The Bizarre Misadventures of Steven Brooks
So less than two weeks before the start of the 2013 legislative session we have a black Democrat city councilman, Ricki Barlow, telling a black Democrat state senator, Kelvin Atkinson, that a black Democrat assemblyman, Steven Brooks, allegedly made threatening statements about a white Democrat assemblywoman, Marilyn Kirkpatrick.
As bizarre as this story is, I’m just happy that it doesn’t involve a conservative, white, male Republican for a change! The details of this only-in-Nevada tale are still seeping out, but here are some observations and questions…
Mr. Brooks appears to have been arrested on a he-said/he said/she-said complaint. Nowhere yet have I seen any report claiming that Mr. Brooks actually issued a verifiable, specific threat of bodily, not political, harm directly to Mrs. Kirkpatrick.
Now, I’m no lawyer, but I think that’s called“hearsay evidence.”
But apparently that doesn’t matter. You see, there is a special law that protects elected officials from someone making threatening comments; be they direct or indirect.
This, by the way, is a law passed by elected officials that applies to elected officials; not you or me. If Mr. Brooks had said the same alleged things about an average John Q. Public citizen, it wouldn’t have been such a big deal.
Some are, indeed, created more equal than others.
And what about Mr. Brooks’ gun? Especially since this incident took place just days after President Obama – flanked by pre-teen human shields and protected by armed guards with assault weapons – proclaimed a passel of new gun control laws.
Mr. Brooks apparently didn’t own the gun found in his trunk when he was pulled over and busted for allegedly saying something to someone who told someone else who told a third person who called the police. He borrowed it.
The gun was not an “assault weapon,” so Obama’s proposed crackdown measures against those weapons would be meaningless in this case. And Mr. Brooks didn’t obtain the gun at a gun show; so closing the so-called gun show “loophole” wouldn’t help either.
On the other hand, reports clearly indicate Mr. Brooks was suffering from some kind of mental breakdown. Indeed, he reportedly was released from a mental facility the very night before he was arrested.
Hmm. Maybe instead of focusing on new gun restrictions we should maybe look at how someone suffering a severe mental meltdown was allowed back on the streets?
Lastly, it appears that legislators who gleefully support keeping our public schools “gun free zones” have opted NOT to limit their own ability to pack heat in the legislative building to protect themselves from a potential loose cannon busting into a hearing room and shooting up the place.
Again, some people are created more equal than others.