Gun rights, gun control, gun violence

Man with gun in wasteband.

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An Illinois federal judge recently ruled that the Constitution protects the gun rights of noncitizens who enter the U.S. illegally. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Coleman dropped firearm possession charges against Heriberto Carbajal-Flores, who was in possession of a handgun in the Little Village neighborhood of Chicago on June 1, 2020.

Court documents show Carbajal-Flores broke the law once by being in this country illegally. He broke it a second time by owning a gun illegally. He fired his handgun at moving vehicles when he believed looters were approaching his neighborhood after police warned of potential threats. Thankfully, he did not kill anybody.

This ruling pitches “gun rights” conservatives a curveball. They like the widened scope of the Second Amendment. However, widening its protection to cover undocumented immigrants alarms them. No doubt, this fans the flames of fear. The xenophobic Great Replacement conspiracy theory is no longer just for “crazies.” Now, “normal” people can believe it.

And “gun control” liberals are in a jam. They embrace how undocumented immigrants are given freer exercise of American rights than before. But the possibility of 11 million additional people in the U.S. carrying firearms is not what they had in mind. Felony possession of a gun is the worst-case scenario that liberals wish to avoid but fear will pass.

Finally, “anti-gun violence” moderates have been thrown under the bus. Gun violence prevention balanced with responsible gun ownership is a tenable position. But how do you protect ordinary citizens when everyone else is brandishing pistols in “self-defense”? The police are outmanned and outgunned. They simply cannot be everywhere, all the time.

This ruling has everyone on edge. It was not necessarily the best of times in America when conservatives, liberals and moderates were suspicious of and hated each other about their gun policies. But at least everyone was taking their beliefs seriously, and everyone knew where they stood. Now, each position’s inner contradictions have surfaced.

Yet as these groups strategically pivot, the potential exists to ally them. Untreated mental illness, felony gun possession and absent law enforcement continue to irk conservatives, liberals and moderates, respectively. As barbaric certitudes have transformed into humanizing doubts, perhaps all groups will come to the negotiating table.

In the U.S. since the late 18th century, there has been a longstanding prohibition on guns for the mentally ill and felons, to separate those deemed a danger to themselves or others from guns. The system in place uses Form 4473, which asks about mental health history and felony convictions. Then a background check is run on the three databases comprising the NICS system.

But Form 4473 is not a proper psychological assessment, and the NICS is missing 25% of all felony convictions. A mental health Sociopathy Test and criminal tendency Sheehan Homicidality Tracker Scale, together, are a good option. Both tests would take no more than 15 minutes total for an ATF agent to administer and grade on-site to determine whether the applicant can buy a gun.

The Supreme Court emphasizes the historical tradition of firearm regulation. Gun regulations must be consistent with this tradition. Disarming the mentally ill and felons is consistent with this ruling. 18th-century peace officers were authorized to “lock up lunatics who are dangerous.” We have now come full circle.

Although the political will on the gun issue may be lacking, we Americans are the kind of people who can accomplish anything once we set our collective mind to it. American ingenuity in tackling and solving social problems is a force to be reckoned with. It has stood us in good stead in the past. It can and will do so again.

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Man with gun in wasteband.

Gun rights, gun control, gun violence

An Illinois federal judge recently ruled that the Constitution protects the gun rights of noncitizens who enter the U.S. illegally. U.S. District Court Judge Sharon