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Classic Ron Paul on Gun Control

Last week's tragic shootings in Virgina have reignited efforts to pass new gun control laws, including extended "background checks."

Theretofore, this is a good time to revisit Campaign for Liberty Chairman Ron Paul's writings on gun control and the second amendment:

1. Mental Health Screening a Good Way to Decrease Liberty, Poor Way to Increase Security:

Last week Americans were shocked and saddened by another mass killing, this one near a college campus in California. We all feel deep sympathy for the families of the victims.

As usual, many people responded to this shooting by calling for new federal gun control laws, including the mental health screening of anyone attempting to purchase a firearm. There are a number of problems with this proposal. Federally-mandated mental health screenings would require storing mental health records in a government database. This obviously raises concerns about patient privacy and doctor-patient confidentiality, as well as the threat of identity theft. Anyone who doubts that these are legitimate concerns should consider the enormous privacy problems with the Obamacare website; some have even suggested that healthcare.gov be renamed indentifytheft.gov.

Giving government the power to bar some Americans from owning guns by labeling them as “mentally ill” could easily lead to serious abuses. Even authors of mental health manuals admit that mental health diagnoses are subjective and can be based on “social constructions.” Thus, anyone whose behavior deviates from some “norm” could find himself deprived of his second amendment, and possibly other, rights.

People could be even be labeled “mentally ill” because they are outspoken critics of the government. Currently, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s “Operation Vigilant Eagle” program, veterans who express dissatisfaction with government polices run the risk of being labeled mentally-unstable terrorist threats. There has also been at least one federally-funded violence prevention program that determined that holding certain political and social views indicates a propensity for violence. So there is precedent for labeling those with unpopular political beliefs as being “mentally ill.”

We have also seen how US presidents from both parties have used the IRS to target political opponents. Imagine the potential for abuse if those same politicians had access to the mental health records of their political opponents, or the power to label opponents mentally ill because those opponents were “dissatisfied” with the government?

People who say that the threat to liberty posed by mental health screenings is outweighed by the enhanced security they provide should consider that expanding background checks and mental health screening is unlikely to make us safer. Professor Richard Alan Friedman, director of the Psychopharmacology Clinic at Weill Cornell Medical College, has written that it is imposable to predict whether an individual will act in a violent manner.

Read the here.

2. More Guns Plus Less War Equals Real Security:

Last week’s tragic shootings in Canada and Washington state are certain to lead to new calls for gun control. The media-generated fear over “lone wolf terrorists” will enable the gun control lobby to smear Second Amendment supporters as “pro-terrorist.” Marketing gun control as an anti-terrorist measure will also enable gun control supporters to ally with those who support any infringement on liberty done in the name of “homeland security.”

As with most infringements on liberty, gun control will not only make us less free, it will make us less safe. Respecting the right of the people to keep and bear arms is the original and best homeland security policy. Restricting the right of people to arm themselves leaves them with no effective defense against violent criminals or a tyrannical government.

Every year, thousands of Americans use firearms to stop violent criminals. One notable example occurred in September, when Oklahoman Mark Vaughan used a rifle to stop a knife-wielding co-worker who had already killed one person and wounded another. Unfortunately, most of the media coverage focused on speculation that the assailant was motivated by “radical Islam” rather than on Vaughan’s use of a firearm to protect innocent lives.

It is no coincidence that states that pass “concealed carry” laws experience a drop in crime. Since passing concealed carry in Texas in 1995, murder in the state has declined by 52 percent. In comparison, the national murder rate declined by only 33 percent.

Perhaps the best illustration of the dangers of gun control is federal regulations forbidding pilots from having guns in their cockpits. Ironically, this rule went into effect shortly before September 11, 2001. If pilots had the ability to carry guns on 9/11, the hijackers may well have been stopped from attacking the World Trade Center and Pentagon or persuaded to not even try.

Shortly after 9/11, I introduced legislation allowing pilots to carry firearms in the cockpits. Congress eventually passed a bill allowing pilots to carry firearms if they obtain federal certification and obey federal regulations. Aside from the philosophical objection that no one should have to ask government permission before exercising a right, the rules and expensive approval process discourage many pilots from participating in the armed pilots program.

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