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If Half an Onion is Black With Rot, It Is A Rotten Onion; A Man is Good or He is Evil* | Main | Bob Kerrey Apologizes to Obama
December 20, 2007

Gun Control Bill Passes Congress

The final form of what some had labeled the "Veterans Disarmament Act" passed both the House and the Senate today after adjustments to reassure my senator, Tom Coburn, that veterans would not be unjustly denied gun ownership. The law's official title is the NICS Improvement Act of 2007.

Prompted by the Virginia Tech University shootings, Congress yesterday approved legislation that would help states more quickly and accurately identify potential firearms buyers with mental health problems that disqualify them from gun ownership under federal law.

The deaths of 32 people in a shooting rampage by a mentally ill student on the Virginia Tech campus spurred Congress to address long-standing gaps in state records reporting that allowed the killer to purchase two guns.

President Bush is expected to sign it.

This is a difficult policy area. Should the Second Amendment's protection be absolute? Textually, there is no exception for depriving anyone of a firearm, not even prisoners. Of course, in practice we realize that the constitutional rights of citizens can and must be restricted in certain situations. When it comes to convicted felons, that curtailment is often imposed beyond the period of incarceration, depending on which jurisdiction tried the crime.

But what about for the mentally ill?


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