Don’t believe Republicans about mental health and gun purchases, even “moderates” like Chris Smith.
Republican rhetoric about mental health and firearms is a ruse. The Republican controlled House has repeatedly voted to strip funding from mental-health care. If they believe the link between mental health and gun violence is strong, why vote to weaken a potential solution? Shouldn’t they explore every avenue to help those with mental health issues before they inflict mass trauma?
Last February, the GOP and Smith passed H.J. 40, repealing a regulation preventing those who receive social security disability due to mental illness from purchasing firearms. There were problems with the rule, and the ACLU supported the repeal. Instead of addressing the problems, Republicans removed it and did nothing.
GOP mantra after a shooting is always “mental illness, how unfortunate.” As the majority party, Republicans could address any mental health/firearms issue they wanted. They have control, but they’ve made no effort to fix what they identify as a public safety problem. In fact, they’ve tried to loosen regulations.
The house recently passed HR 38, the concealed carry reciprocity act, requiring concealed weapons permits from any state, including those with weak or no background checks, to be valid nationwide.
Now that he’s receiving closer scrutiny, Smith voted against HR 38. But in 2011, Smith voted for an identical bill, HR 822. He supported the gun lobby over his own constituents by undermining the precautions they have enacted through the legislative process. Bearing a concealed weapon in New Jersey should require abiding by New Jersey’s rules.
If Smith and Republicans believed their own rhetoric about mental health and guns, they have had ample opportunity to do something about it. Instead, they have moved in the other direction. It’s time for the NJ4 to do the same.