Oklahoma police chiefs support mental health checks for potential gun owners

Although legislators in the nation's capital have all but killed an assault weapons ban, Oklahoma legislators are forging ahead on some gun control measures with the full support of local law enforcement.

The Oklahoma House has passed a bill that would require the state’s county court clerks to submit the names of those they have classified as mentally incompetent to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. This federal database is responsible for tracking individuals with mental illnesses who are prohibited from buying or owning guns.

The bill, which now goes to the state Senate, was endorsed Monday by the Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police.

“In many of the instances that have occurred around the country where there have been mass shootings, [the shooter] has at some point or another been diagnosed as mentally ill,” said Norman McNickle, president of the association. McNickle added, “We just think those records are important to keep guns out of the hands of people who aren’t supposed to have them.”

Although federal and state laws already prohibit the sale of guns to anyone adjudicated mentally ill, Oklahoma, along with some other states, do not currently submit their records to the national database.

Other states and cities are fighting to enact their versions of additional gun control measures, with New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg being one of the most vocal on banning assault type weapons and extending background checks.

Speaking in NYC on Thursday, while in town to meet with Bloomberg and parents from Newtown, Conn., Vice President Joe Biden called Adam Lanza, the mass shooter at Sandy Hook Elementary School, “deranged” and the gun he used to slaughter 20 children and six educators a “weapon of war.”

He added that this weapon of war has no place on America’s streets and that taking them off the streets has no impact on one’s constitutional rights to bear arms.


Assault weapons legislation looks like it is about to die a swift death in Washington, D.C., because politicians on both sides of the aisle are too chicken or are bought and paid for by gun lobbyists like the NRA to effectively govern. Meanwhile, individual states are embarking on their own versions of gun prohibition.

But would stricter laws on potential gun owners prevent another Newtown from happening?

Believe me, I get the passion behind the fight for additional laws and the fervor of gun advocates; I am one myself. But remember that Adam Lanza used his mother’s guns. This means that background checks on only the individual purchasing the weapon—without extending them to whoever else may have access to the guns in the home or elsewhere—may be futile under those extenuating circumstances.

And what about manufacturing? It is the alcohol-and-cigarettes argument all over again. Phillip Morris has ads and websites dedicated to helping those addicted to smoking the poison they make, which is the most oxymoronic thing I have ever seen. States have joined in the anti-smoking campaign, using everything from scare tactics to offering free anti-smoking gum, but they still continue to make loads in taxes off the cancerous smoking sticks. The New York City mayor has even imposed a widespread cigarette-smoking ban in public places including beaches and parks. But he stops short of tackling manufacturing.

High-capacity weapons are made to maximize the kill. The old-fashioned ordinary ammo merely kills or maims. These new killing machines can rip the body to shreds.

Twenty of those brutally gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary were 6- and 7-year-old children, each reportedly shot multiple times and torn apart by a diabolical gunman wielding a Bushmaster and other assault-type weapons. Some of those little bodies were so shredded by the high-capacity bullets that they were missing parts when they were buried.

One of those devastated moms was Veronique Pozner, who said that her 6-year-old son Noah had to be buried in a special way because of his horrific injuries. She said the family had to place a blanket, a letter and stuffed animals in Noah’s casket. The blanket was to cover his lower face because his jaw had been blown away. A clear white plastic rock with a tiny angel was placed inside in his right hand, but she had to ask the funeral director to place an identical rock in his left. She couldn’t do it herself as little Noah’s left hand was severely mangled.

So, as our legislators attempt to ban or limit certain weapons and beef up other security measures through background checks, manufacturers continue to market “weapons of war” to ordinary citizens. These weapons are made to shred sever and blow us to bits—and can be bought at your local Walmart along with a case of beer.

Which raises the question: Just how effective will these rashes of gun laws be? As effective as alcohol prohibition?

What Next?

Related Articles