The most dangerous impulse of a government is to answer the cry, “Do something!”
Classic example? Gun control.
Obama plans to meet with his Attorney General tomorrow. At that meeting they will develop rationalizations for using executive orders in place of gun control legislation they are unable to pass.
Maybe you believe in gun control, and you therefore support these executive actions. You place your desire for “doing something” over and above the express limits of the Constitution. You might feel secure, even smug, in the fact your president, Obama, is doing the right thing.
But you’re wrong.
The Constitution does not permit the president to do things contradicted by the laws of the nation, to say nothing of the Bill of Rights. As feeble and generally worthless as this Republican Congress is when it comes to opposing Obama, it does appear willing to hold its ground on banning guns. This makes Obama really angry, and when Obama’s angry he simply goes and does whatever he wishes.
Even if you like what Obama does with gun control, it will come back to bite you. Sooner or later, there will be a president who uses executive orders—outside of Congress—to “do something” you don’t want him or her to do.
Obama’s misuse of executive power is arguably the worst legacy of his time in office. And given what he has done to the economy, medical care, the military and the morale of America in fighting Islamic terrorism, that’s really saying something.
Donald Trump correctly opposes tinkering with the Second Amendment. It’s not clear, however, if he objects to Obama’s misuse of executive authority on principle.
“I don’t like it,” Trump tells “Face the Nation” moderator John Dickerson about Obama’s expected plan to expand background checks. “I don’t like anything having to do with changing our Second Amendment. We have plenty of rules and regulations.”
“We have a tremendous mental health problems,” he adds.
“We are closing places all over the world, all over the country they are closing – but they are closing all over the world. Tremendous mental health problems — nobody is doing anything about that.”
Can or should the federal government (or state governments) be “doing something” about mental health problems?
If anything, that could be even worse than what Obama proposes.
Mental health problems are not something the federal government can “do” anything about, even though Trump (and others who say the same thing) rarely specify what they mean.
Mental health problems have to do with the mind. The mind is outside the purview of the government, at least in a free society.
The moment the government begins defining what is mentally sound and unsound is the moment you have the modern equivalent of a totalitarian, Nazi-like or Communist-like state.
If you’re a Democrat, do you seriously want a Republican president or Congress defining what is mentally sound and unsound? And vice-versa, if you’re a Republican? If you’re independent, like I am, you are horrified by the prospect of any politician, or anyone with power, making such determinations (or hiring those who do).
Government’s job is to hold people accountable. If someone initiates force or fraud against another, it’s none of the government’s concern as to whether the actions occurred because of a mental disorder, or not.
John Hinckley, who shot President Reagan, was mentally ill by anyone’s definition. Does this mean he should be getting weekend passes from a mental hospital as he continues to fantasize about impressing his imaginary girlfriend? Yet he does, because of government’s acceptance of using psychiatric diagnosis as an excuse for crime.
Government’s job is not to “do something,” but to do as little as possible, outside of protecting rights. No lone wolf gunman will access mental health services or hospitals, any more than they would have been willing to obey national gun bans, if we had them. They would have bought their guns on the black market, the way drug users buy their illegal products on the underground market now.
As for Islamic radicals subjecting themselves to mental health services … it’s an absurd joke to even suggest such a thing.
The hard truth is that the government cannot “do” anything to make citizens, the mentally disturbed or the religiously radical into more rational, benevolent human beings. Taking away the guns of people who are not mentally disturbed will not solve a thing, any more than building more mental hospitals would.
The best thing government can do? Stop punishing the would-be victims of crime by eroding their rights. Instead, hold the perpetrators of crime — foreign and domestic — way more accountable. By seeking unconstitutional gun bans, Obama is doing precisely the opposite.
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