Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Dems "weren't even close" to bringing back HB 88

Attorney General Beau Biden didn't show up to argue his point about HB 88.

And behind closed doors Senate Democrats couldn't muster any more support for the flawed bill on guns and mental illness than they had at the end of the last session:
Senate President Pro Tem Patricia Blevins, D-Elsmere, who supported the bill, said Democrats “weren’t even close” to finding enough votes to bring the bill back for debate. 
It is important to understand what happened here:  the Democratic leadership will come up with all sorts of reasons why the bill failed:  the NRA and First State Liberty's Eric Boye will doubtless be among them.  So should thousands of people in Delaware who signed petitions and wrote letters/emails to their Senators to oppose the bill.

The reality is that this was a flawed bill from the start, and the amendments offered did not improve it.

Supporters of the bill were unable to address the issue that passing HB 88 into law might cause fewer people with problems like depression, alcoholism, or PTSD from seeking treatment.

Many mental health professionals, while reluctant to speak publicly, were privately concerned with the "duty to report" provisions that would leave them practicing "defensively" rather than always in their clients' best interest.

The standard for confiscation--"clear and convincing evidence"--was, as written, far too amenable for later watering down to the insidiously weak "preponderance of the evidence" standard that the Federal government now insists be used in all civil rights and sexual harassment complaints--and insisted upon based on Executive fiat rather than Legislative process.

Oddly enough this all plays out against the background of another senseless shooting, this time in a Florida movie theater, where the victim had refused to stop texting and then apparently threw popcorn at an armed man.  The 71-year-old man who alleged fired the shots was retired Tampa police officer.

It is worth considering (when you're thinking about the politics of gun control in Delaware) that many of the same supporters of this bill also supported an exemption for current and retired police officers in last year's not-quite-universal background checks law.

How did that happen?

How did police officers, who suffer as a group from higher rates of depression, alcoholism, domestic abuse, and PTSD than the general population, get exempted from a gun control measure in a state where everyone from the Attorney General on down to the former Delaware State Police officer who is the Speaker of the House tells us they have nothing in mind but public safety?

Could it be that there's simply politics as usual on all sides of this debate?