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Your Turn: Who Shouldn’t Be Allowed to Buy Guns?

by Countable | 11.6.17

What’s the story?

President Donald Trump called Sunday’s mass shooting at a Texas church a "mental health problem at the highest level," labelling the gunman a “deranged individual.”

The suspect, Devin Patrick Kelley, served in the U.S. Air Force until he was discharged for bad conduct in 2014. Prior to the discharge, he was court-martialed in 2012 for two counts of assault on his spouse and child.

Should this individual have been allowed to buy a gun?

Who can’t own a gun?

The Gun Control Act of 1968, which was later amended by the 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, makes it a felony offense for certain "prohibited persons" to own any firearm. It’s also a felony to knowingly sell or transfer a firearm to one of this “prohibited persons.”

The nine categories of people prohibited from possessing firearms under the Gun Control Act include:

  • Persons under indictment for, or convicted of, any felony crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year

  • Fugitives from justice

  • Persons who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, any controlled substance (this includes medical marijuana patients)

  • Persons who have been declared by a court as mental defectives or have been committed to a mental institution

  • Illegal aliens or aliens who were admitted to the United States under a nonimmigrant visa

  • Persons who have been dishonorably discharged from the Armed Forces

  • Persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship

  • Persons subject to certain types of restraining orders

  • Persons who have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence

Kelley’s "bad conduct" discharge fell just short of an dishonorable discharge. And while it’s unclear if his assault charges constituted domestic violence, assault can be treated as a felony, and should have prevented the former airman from owning a gun.

Over the years, a number of other groups have been the target of proposed gun bans:

  • People on the no fly list. Following the mass shooting in San Bernardino, California, in 2015, President Barack Obama urged Congress to pass legislation that would prevent suspected terrorists on the no-fly list from purchasing firearms.

  • Mentally ill individuals. During the twilight hours of the Obama administration, a regulation was put into place that required the Social Security Administration to identify and report to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) those individuals who couldn’t work because of psychiatric disabilities and, because of these severe mental impairments, were assigned a money manager. In February of this year, President Trump repealed this regulationa number of Senate democrats and independents sided with their Republican colleagues in voting to revoke it.

  • Mentally ill veterans. There has also been separate legislation were veterans deemed too mentally incompetent to handle their own financial affairs would be prevented from buying guns.

  • Volatile persons. A study out of Duke University concluded that past violent behavior – not mental illness or substance abuse – is the strongest indicator of future violent behavior; the author and his colleagues therefore recommended that those who’ve been arrested for violent misdemeanors should be banned from owning a firearm. Currently, California bans people convicted of a range of violent misdemeanors from owning a gun for 10 years; some of these misdemeanors include "threatening public officers, employees, and school officials," “assault with a stun gun or taser,” and “stalking.”

  • Protestors. The locations where individuals should be allowed to carry guns is another Your Turn, but following the events in Charlottesville this summer, the ACLU announced it would "no longer defend hate groups seeking to march with firearms." Should protesters be banned from carrying guns, even in states that allow open or concealed carry?

What do you think?

Who shouldn’t be allowed to own guns? Or are there some on the current list of prohibited owners you think should be allowed to purchase a firearm? Given the events in Texas, do we need to expand the law to include those court-martialed for "bad conduct"? Should the rest of the U.S. follow California’s example? Hit Take Action, tell your reps, then tell your fellow citizens below.

— Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: iJacky / iStockphoto)

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Written by Countable

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(150)
  • Kodiwodi
    11/07/2017
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    I’m a gun owner and a hunter and I have very strong opinions on who should be allowed to own a gun. In my opinion a gun owner is someone who has been formally trained and passed a gun safety test. The training should be no less than 24 hours and should demonstrate proficiency in no less than 3 types of weapons, loading, unloading, types of ammunition, stances, aiming, live fire, and gun law at a minimum. Ownership should be restricted to those who have no felonies of any type on their record, no domestic, animal, child abuse, pedophilia or other weapons charges on their records. No semi-automatic weapons should be owed by anyone not on active duty or reserves. No kits or bumps stocks should be legal at all. No silencers should be legal. Those owning guns with children or visiting children must possess a gun safe capable of securing all owned weapons.

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  • Andrew
    11/07/2017
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    We should follow Canada who looks for people with mental disorders, and any domestic abuse charges because of this Canada has a very very low murder rate with firearms, background checks are very important would keep people from being able to access a gun illegally in most cases, and would allow hunters or people who just want a gun can still have one as long as they pass them

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  • Reeni
    11/07/2017
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    Ban semi automatic weapons and magazines. Weapons of war have no place in our society. Are we in Afghanistan? A war zone? BAN semi automatic weapons and magazines.

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  • Jody
    11/07/2017
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    This has gone to far! There have been to many deaths due to gun violence. It doesn’t make sense for mentally ill or violent individuals to be able to purchase guns. How can the president say this isn’t a gun issue? We all know that it is the individual who does the killing not the gun itself. We’re tired of the arguments given by gun lovers and the NRA. Please stand up for the victims and the people. We don’t need to continue with these senseless deaths!

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  • Norma
    11/07/2017
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    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. NO WE DON’T! We must live in FEAR to go to our schools, churches, public spaces because we worship guns over people! Stop being so corrupt in your values Congress, you have children too. I’m they would like to feel safe. Commonsense gun control, background checks, banning of ridiculous war level weaponry should not be in the hands of every day civilians.

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  • Yvette
    11/07/2017
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    Juat because one has a mental illness doesn't classify them as deranged. A person with a mental illness can be anyone from depressed to schizo affective to Attention Deficit. You have to look at each individual on a case by case basis and simply can't lump all that are diagnosed with a "mental illness" as dangerous.

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  • Robert
    11/07/2017
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    In 2004 when they remove the ban on sales of military style assault weapons to civilians is when this started. Since 2004 5 to 8,000,000 assault weapons have been sold in the USA, maybe this one is too far gone to make a change. When you have a small percentage of the population (arms manufactures and ARA) spending the amount of money to sway the politicians to listen to a small group of the population and making them override the majority, shows that the system is broken, the government is broken. I don’t know how these politicians can sleep at night knowing that they’ve sold their constituents a bag of shit. These weapons are designed for one thing, killing people and if anybody says they need this for hunting they shouldn’t be hunting.

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  • Gerald
    11/07/2017
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    I think the question is who should buy assault weapons. One purpose...killing humans, lots of them. Battlefield Ok. Church, concert, movies, not ok. Get real. It’s just crazy. Literally crazy! Ban them or lose more innocents.

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  • Brad
    11/07/2017
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    I believe this is a over reaching as it is worded already and adding more groups would be unconstitutional. Let’s use another industry as an example of how this is over reaching. A person claims bankruptcy. Using these rules, this person would no longer be able to get a loan FOR THE REST OF THEIR LIFE! Not all people charged with a felony is a criminal for their entire life. What about mentally ill? Who determines who is ill? A single doctor? Or a board of doctors? Or elected officials who could be mentally ill themsleves? At what point do we stop classifying people as ill? What about what meds they are on? Do we ban guns for everyone on Prozac, Xanax, and Ritalin?What about anyone who has been in therapy once in the last 15 years. Banned from a gun regardless of what it was for? This is a basic right of being in this country. Continuing to limit who has access to firearms will not stop these events from happening. The only way to truly stop gun violence is to remove gun free zones. Every person has a right to defend themselves at all times.

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  • K
    11/07/2017
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    Sure blame the gun not the person. Luckily their was a good guy with a gun nearby, that stopped the shooter.

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  • RadicalModerate
    11/07/2017
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    Don’t forget, we may need to defend our selves from corrupt law enforcement or even the military. It’s our duty when faced with tyranny. Or would you all throw our founding fathers in Guantanamo if they were alive today? As for medical cannabis users, there no more addicted to weed than the rest of us are to vitamins. So let them have guns.

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  • Sergeant
    11/07/2017
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    Endorse the laws on the books. No new laws!

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  • LukeDuke
    11/07/2017
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    It has been determined that the Air Force dropped the ball on reporting the Texas Church Massacre shooter's dishonorable discharge to the appropriate authorities to show in a background check. So we don't need new laws, we simply need to enforce the ones that we already have. He should not have been allowed to purchase the firearms. It was illegal for him to do so and Air Force dropped the ball.

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  • Leslie
    11/07/2017
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    Yes, I agree with these restrictions and also add the restriction on the gunstock addition which mimics automatic weapons

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  • Jacob
    11/07/2017
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    We need to ban assault weapons. Our freedom should not be measured by our ability to buy increasingly deadly weapons for killing people.

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  • Nancy
    11/07/2017
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    Only professionals in the military, law enforcement and farmers who have passed background checks should be allowed firearms

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  • Will
    11/07/2017
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    You guys literally outlined who should not have a weapon in your post that showed the laws already in place. We need better enforcement, not new laws that are just going to get lost in the thousands upon thousands of other pieces of legislation already in our government.

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  • Jose
    11/07/2017
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    I am a police officer and I will put myself in the way of any threats to citizens of my community. That is what I am paid to do, that is what I am trained to do, that is what I signed up for when I went to the academy and graduated. I know full well the dangers of my job and what it takes to make the right decisions in a life and death situation, even then police officers are humans and make mistakes that cost people their lives. We are not perfect but why should we ask everyday Americans to do the same in the face of gunshots with little to no training at all? Guns are weapons meant to kill we can see the amount of damage they cause through the nation everyday. We need common sense gun legislation, mandatory background checks, Weapon registration, ammunition regulation, domestic violence screenings, mental health screenings and assault rifle regulation. Doing nothing is not enough and it is placing my life in more danger than it already is and it is costing the lives of everyday citizens that shouldn’t be prepared for this amount of violence. Please do something anything, because America will always be in my thoughts and prayers.

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  • Merrilee
    11/07/2017
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    Longer it takes to fire the gun = less loss of life. Round up the semi automatics, automatics, mods and magazines. Hand them over to the military, who actually needs them. It might not be the only answer but it’s a good start!

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  • Cheryle
    11/08/2017
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    I’m also a gun owner. Before I purchased a gun I took classes on gun safety and the proper use of guns. As a responsible gun owner I believe that there should be a nationwide background check, there should also be a nationwide law that if your guns is lost or stolen you must file a police report, I live ina state that you don’t have to report a lost or stolen gun.

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