Senate Bill 244 first came to my attention when the Concord Monitor last year reported that anti-gun forces were fishing around for ways to put “points on the board” (my words, not the Monitor’s). The original idea was to strip all gun rights from persons who had guardians appointed over them or who were involuntarily committed, with or without a court order.
Since then, the horrible version that was introduced has undergone one revision after another after another. And the most recent revision is somewhat of an improvement over the monstrosity that was originally introduced.
That said, it’s become clear that the process is not going to produce anything good. And I believe it’s time to stop this effort to put lipstick on a pig.
First, the bill deals with guardianship and commitment procedures that are subject to horrific abuse. And it does nothing to address those abuses. The appointment of guardians is frequently accomplished in a “star chamber” ex parte proceeding in which neither the family nor the subject has any representation or right to be heard — in which the subject is deemed to have waived any statutory procedures prior to being stripped of all his constitutional rights.
A recent article in the Union Leader outlines many of the horrific abuses which occur. It is simply not appropriate to visit this legislative cesspool without cleaning out the sewage.
Second, the newest draft doesn’t mandate the removal of Second Amendment rights as the result of unconstitutional procedures. But it doesn’t prohibit it either.
In fact, Barack Obama’s proposed HIPAA regs may be all that is necessary to accomplish that. And, once those rights are stripped away, the draft makes it almost impossible to restore them. There are the mandated 30-day waits, the requirements that the most personal information about the subject be disgorged, the “battling shrinks,” the $10,000-$20,000-plus cost, the requirement that the person who has lost his rights prove compliance with some indefinable subjective standard, and so on, and so on, and so on.
Third, if Senate Republicans sign off on this draft, it is only going to get worse from here. Anti-gun advocates have made it clear that they are still looking for a strategy to pass the universal background check.
By the time we learn what the anti-gun House intends to do with SB244, we will have much less leverage than we do now. Fourth, if we allow (former New York Mayor Michael) Bloomberg to put “points on the board” by passing SB244, it will weaken and demoralize gun owners. It will strengthen and build anti-gun groups. And this is why anti-gun forces are so eager to pass some bill — any bill, because the fact is that SB244 is nothing more than a platform for the next call for gun control.
The bottom line: Please fight any efforts to continue this charade. Please demand that the Senate bury SB244, once and for all.
Michael E. Hammond, a resident of Dunbarton, works for Gun Owners of America and has been temporarily working in Virginia since Newtown to stop gun control legislation.