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Ernie's House of Whoopass! March 11, 2011
March 11, 2011

Oh no! It's Godzirra!

Wow, poor ol Japan is really getting the shit kicked out of them by this tsunami, eh? And that hot on the heels of an 8.9 earthquake... what's next?

So I have a question regarding the legality of people with mental illnesses owning firearms. But before I get into the meat and potatoes of it, let me lay a little groundwork first. For those of you who have never had the pleasure, any time you purchase a firearm from a licensed dealer, you as the purchaser are required to fill out an ATF form 4473. Essentially it's a questionnaire asking pretty basic questions like, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony" and, "Have you ever been charged with domestic abuse?" and, "Are you a US citizen." Then the dealer you're buying the gun from calls into have an instant (5-10 minute) background check performed on you so the Feds can verify all of your answers. Pass the background check and mazel'tov, you own your new gun. Fail, and you can go fuck yourself. pretty straight forward, yes?

Okay, good. Now, one of those questions is the following:

Have you ever been adjucated mentally defective (which includes having been adjudicated incompetent to manage your own affairs) or have been committed to a mental institution?

First I wanted to find out what they mean by adjucated mentally defective. Turns out there really isn't much information on the term itself, but from what I can gather it means that a court of law has never found you to be batshit crazy, and haven't been involuntarily stuck in a padded room. Now, H.R. 2640, which amended the NICS background check system in 2008, clearly states, "Neither current federal law, nor H.R. 2640, would prohibit gun possession by people who have voluntarily sought psychological counseling or checked themselves into a hospital." Translation: with voluntary commitment, you can still own a firearm. But if you've been involuntarily committed -- say because you pose a danger to yourself or those around you -- and no dice. Makes sense, so far, right?

Now, ever since the Virginia Tech shootings, there's been talk of including more mental health records into the NICS background check database. There are valid points to each side of the argument; invasion of privacy and doctor/patient confidentiality, versus the safety of the general public at large. Not to mention those that would purposely not seek treatment, for the fear of being forced to give up their Second Amendment rights. So I guess it's all a matter of degrees, right? I mean just because a person is seeking treatment for a fear of spiders, or because his mom didn't hug him enough as a child, isn't any reason to label that person mentally defective, right? But what about some of the more serious shit like uncontrollable fits of violence, or thoughts of suicide. Should that prevent someone from owning a gun? Some might be inclined to say yes to that. With that in mind, read these two paragraphs and imagine that each applies to two different individuals:

Occupational and social impairment, with deficiencies in most areas, such as work, school, family relations, judgment, thinking, or mood, due to such symptoms as: suicidal ideation; obsessional rituals which interfere with routine activities; speech intermittently illogical, obscure, or irrelevant; near-continuous panic or depression affecting the ability to function independently, appropriately and effectively; impaired impulse control (such as unprovoked irritability with periods of violence); spatial disorientation; neglect of personal appearance and hygiene; difficulty in adapting to stressful circumstances (including work or a worklike setting); inability to establish and maintain effective relationships.

Total occupational and social impairment, due to such symptoms as: gross impairment in thought process or communication; persistent delusions or hallucinations; grossly inappropriate behavior; persistent danger of hurting self or others; intermittent inability to perform activities of daily living (including maintenance of minimal personal hygiene); disorientation to time or place; memory loss for names of close relatives, own occupation occupation, or own name.

Eh, maybe not hand a gun to the first person, that's kind of an 50/50 thing, right? But the second guy? Wow, "persistent danger of hurting self or others." No fucking gun for him, he's batshit crazy, am I right? Okay, here's the twist. Those two excerpts were taken directly from the general rating formula that the Veterans Affairs uses to determine a soldier's level of medical disability. (70% and 100% disabled, respectively) So those two people you're imaging as being fit, maybe not fit, to possess a firearm? They're soldiers. With PTSD. Ahhh, not so easy now, is it? I mean can we really say, "Hey thanks for defending my rights, by the way, because you got kind of fucked up doing it, we're going to take some of those rights away from you." But at the same time, a soldier who is 100% disabled due to PTSD... the government is more or less saying, "Because we understand you'll never be able to function in society again, let alone hold down a job, we're going to pay you for the rest of your life."

I've sat here for the better part of two hours this morning, and hell if I could come up with a resolution I can live with.

The United States Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon is a 24-man rifle platoon of the United States Marine Corps. Often referred to as The Marching Twenty-Four, the unit performs unique silent precision exhibition drill. The purpose of the platoon is to exemplify the discipline and professionalism of the Marine Corps. The Marines execute a series of calculated drill movements and precise handling of their hand-polished 10.5 pounds M1 Garand rifles with fixed bayonets. The routine concludes with a unique rifle inspection involving elaborate rifle spins and tosses. All drill movements are done with superfluous spins of the rifle, making the Silent Drill Platoon's drill unique from other Marine units' drill movements, especially the Air Force's. Having said that, I know a certain marine who is going to be in for a world of shit. Although to be honest, I can't tell if that was a bad throw by the Sergeant, or a bad catch by the Lance Corporal. Anyone with drill experience care to weigh in?

"The Girl from Ipanema" is a well-known bossa nova song, a worldwide hit in the mid-1960s that won a Grammy for Record of the Year in 1965. It was written in 1962, with music by Antonio Carlos Jobim and Portuguese lyrics by Vinicius de Moraes. English lyrics were written later by Norman Gimbel. In Lampoon's Vegas Vacation, "The Girl from Ipanema" is used during the scene where Clark and Ellen try and join the mile high club. and yes, apparently girls from Impanema really live up to their sexy reputation.

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