As the Grand Junction Sentinel's Charles Ashby reports today:
Responding to numerous emails and a “legislative alert” from the Rocky Mountain Gun Owners Association, several state lawmakers voted against a bill that changes some definitions in the state’s civil commitment statutes.
Under those laws, mental health professionals can hold potentially dangerous patients for up to 72 hours and prescribe additional treatment beyond that time…
It stems from a civil commitment task force that was created last year in response to the shooting deaths at an Aurora theater in 2012.
But gun owners worry that once someone is labeled mentally ill, they lose their right to own or possess a firearm.
During last year's pitched debate over gun safety legislation passed in the Colorado General Assembly, one of the most often-heard arguments against the legislation then being debated was that it ignored the real issue identified in recent mass shooting events: that is, mental health problems afflicting the shooters. We shouldn't be regulating guns, they said, we need to do more to both protect the community from and provide treatment for people with mental illnesses.
Now that there's legislation to do just that, what's the response from the gun lobby and their pet legislators?
“I think that a lot of stakeholders weren’t included, including law enforcement … and Second Amendment community,” [Pols emphasis] said Rep. Justin Everett, R-Littleton. “We want to consult with all communities out there, especially after we had two-and-a-half recalls this last cycle.”
As you can see, the gun lobby may have once paid lip service to mental health legislation as an an "alternative" to the gun safety bills passed last year–but when they had the chance to actually do something, in this case carrying out the recommendations of experts convened after the Aurora shootings, forget it! Right back to the "take our guns" scare tactics. It's not a surprising development, but it should be eye-opening for those who think Rocky Mountain Gun Owners and their wholly-owned representatives in the legislature can be reasoned with.
Allow us to suggest here, as gently as we may, that some of those most upset by the possibility of civil commitment reform, to include figures in Colorado politics whose names you may even know, might themselves be in need of it. We'll leave the individual diagnoses to qualified professionals, naturally.
In the meantime, somebody check the weather in Hell, because GOP Rep. Bob Gardner is a legitimate voice of reason in the Republican House caucus on this legislation, as well as one of the only "yes" votes:
“I, like you, received a large number of emails about House Bill 1386 over the weekend, most of which simply did not understand the bill,” Gardner said. “This bill has nothing in it about guns. If we fail to get the help to those who need it and they harm themselves or they harm a family member, we’ve done them no service by not putting them on a 72-hour hold.”
Good for Rep. Gardner, and shame most of his colleagues.