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My recent letter to my local paper about the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act

Leucosticte

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#1
Editor:

I note with concern that In the wake of the El Paso and Dayton shootings, President Trump and Congressional Republicans and Democrats are working to pass a "red flag" gun control bill called the Extreme Risk Protection Order Act.

The aspect of this bill that has gotten the most media attention is the part that gives states funding for personnel, training, technical assistance, and so on to help police seize guns from individuals who have been deemed by a court to be a danger to themselves or others. After the defendant's home has been raided and any firearms taken, he would be entitled to a court hearing where a judge would determine based on a preponderance of the evidence whether his gun rights should be taken away for a year.

A less-known aspect of this bill is that violation of such a court order would be a federal felony punishable by 10 years in prison. So, for example, if a suicidal individual were to violate a court order by attempting to purchase a gun with which to kill himself, he could be prosecuted and have his future prospects ruined by a prison sentence and felony record. Ironically, in trying to save his life, the government would destroy much of his ability to have a happy and meaningful existence.

Instead of getting people the help they need in times of crisis, this legislation would treat some of our society's most vulnerable citizens as criminals. They would be taken from where they could have the support of friends, family, treatment providers, and so on, and locked away in a correctional facility to be surrounded by murderers and rapists, despite the fact that the only danger they may have posed was to themselves.

Even aside from the Second Amendment issues such legislation raises, it should be opposed on humanitarian grounds. Incarcerating people for suicidal behavior is not going to equip them to be successful and productive citizens when they get out. On the contrary, it take away many of their reasons for hope in the future, and subject them to a stressful environment where they don't have the same resources for coping that are available in the outside world.

With suicide rates already on the rise, the last thing we need to do is take a punitive, criminal justice-oriented approach toward those who, in desperation, make known they are having thoughts of harming themselves.
 

Leucosticte

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#3
Do you expect them to publish it?
I dunno, they've probably published about 2/3rds of the letters I've sent them in the past. But now I'm more famous, and the editor of that paper definitely knows who I am since she's interviewed me before.