Guest Author: Robert Romano
17 people are dead in Parkland, Fla. because of the heinous actions of one Nikolas Cruz, who opened fire at the high school there.
This is a national tragedy, and we all share the burden together. Cruz must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. He is responsible for these murders.
The victims are not — repeat, not — dead because of a regulation Congress rescinded in 2017 under the Congressional Review Act, “Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007” that had to do with certain individuals’ names with mental illness being entered into the FBI database for background checks barring the purchase of firearms.
That regulation would not have applied to Cruz.
But that is not the implication being promoted by misleading articles from Quartz’ Annalisa Merelli and Heather Timmons, “One of Trump’s first acts as president made it easier for the mentally ill to buy guns,” or from Mother Jones’ Inae Oh, “Trump, Who Made It Easier for Mentally Ill People to Buy Guns, Blames Mental Health Issues for Florida Shooting.”
Annalisa Merelli and Heather Timmons at Quartz wrote, “By signing the law, Trump made it easier for an estimated 75,000 mentally unstable people to buy weapons.”
Inae Oh wrote, “School officials reportedly identified Cruz as a potential threat who had demonstrated a fixation on guns. Almost exactly a year ago, Trump signed a law to revoke an Obama-era gun regulation that made it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to acquire guns.”
Now, to be fair, nowhere do Merelli, Timmons and Oh actually write that the regulation would have applied to Cruz.
Still, these articles and others, which are being widely circulated on social media such as Facebook and Twitter, have their readers convinced, wrongly, that the regulation Congress rescinded would have somehow stopped Cruz from purchasing his firearm.
There’s only one problem. It wouldn’t have. It’s a monstrous lie. Fake news.
Those making political hay out of that regulation in the wake of the Parkland massacre are in effect diverting blame from where it belongs, on Cruz.
For an individual to have qualified for being entered into the firearm database, the regulation states he or she must have “receive[d] Disability Insurance benefits under title II of the Social Security Act (Act) or Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments under title XVI of the Act and who also meet certain other criteria, including an award of benefits based on a finding that the individual’s mental impairment meets or medically equals the requirements of section 12.00 of the Listing of Impairments (Listings) and receipt of benefits through a representative payee.”
The disorders under the Listings include neurocognitive disorders, schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders, depressive, bipolar and related disorders, intellectual disorder, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorders, somatic symptom and related disorders, personality and impulse-control disorders, autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, eating disorders, and trauma- and stressor-related disorders.
However, nobody has presented any evidence that Nikolas Cruz was either receiving Disability Insurance or Supplemental Security Income for treatment of any of those disorders, let alone that he required someone else to file for it on his behalf, which is the lynchpin for the regulation.
Again, you have to be so impaired by your disorder, that somebody had to file for your Disability or Supplemental Security Income on your behalf, and only then would you be entered into the database as a red flag against a firearms purchase.
Federal law also bars firearms purchases by anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution. Here, Cruz, did not meet that criterium either. Nor was he ever adjudicated by a court as having a mental disorder.
Neither anything in law presently nor under the rescinded regulation would have stopped Cruz’ right to go and purchase the gun he used to commit the murders. Congress repealing that regulation simply had nothing to do with the case of Cruz.
Agree or disagree with those laws, or even with the Fifth Amendment, which states no person shall be denied constitutional rights without having been convicted of a crime, the facts are the facts. You don’t get to shape them to suit a partisan political point.
Gun control regulations, such as the one that Congress rescinded via the Congressional Review Act, are not omniscient. They are not the precogs in Minority Report.
The person responsible for those murders is Cruz, and nothing in the law could have prevented his gun purchase. He should be prosecuted, and if convicted, given the harshest possible sentence. No not guilty verdict for reasons of insanity. He should be held accountable.
Maybe if we want to stop school shooters, we should shoot them first. Post armed guards at schools. Then at least people will have a fighting chance. Make it a hard target and these attacks will be deterred.
But let us not delude ourselves. No matter what the social justice warriors on Facebook will have you believe, if the regulation in question had remained in effect, Cruz still would have never been entered into the federal database for background checks barring firearms purchases. It’s simply not true.