Don’t count on the government for facts
The tragic shooting of TV reporters Alison Parker and Adam Ward by a paranoiac Lester V. Flanagan has resulted in calls for a national database to track and “keep guns out of the hands” of the mentally ill.
Federal databases are notoriously error prone. The average data error runs close to 5 percent. In a nation of 350 million, a 5 percent error rate equals over 17 million Americans. Federal database errors can disrupt the lives and cut off opportunities for millions of innocent Americans.
Despite recent media hysteria about rising crime, the murder rate continues its long run decline. Can’t this reduction in violence be at least somewhat attributed to the dramatic increase in personal handgun carry? I believe criminologist John Lott when he says more guns equals less crime. Taking away the right to self-defense by listing more people in federal databases in order to increase failed background checks to buy a gun will only result in more violence, not less.
Very few people with mental illness are violent. Schizophrenics, paranoids, obsessive compulsives and others who have mental problems will rarely act out their problems violently. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is really not a mental illness at all, but rather a psychic wounding. Do we want to deny millions of the mentally ill their right to self-defense by entering them into a federal database? Half of adult Americans have been in therapy at least once. Only an adjudication by a judge can take gun rights away today. Yet liberals in their anti-gun frenzies would deny more of the mentally ill their right to armed self-defense.
AB 386 passed the last Nevada legislature with bipartisan support. It establishes a pilot program in Washoe and Clark County for public secondary schools mental health screenings. Concerned parents did not want the results of these mental health tests to be placed into any national database. Anyone in a national database will be in cyberspace forever, and its not as if the federal databases are never hacked. While proponents painted a rosy picture of lives saved in teen suicide interventions by dedicated mental health experts, privacy activists are concerned about possible stigma and the administration of unwanted psychotropic drugs. Teen mental health screenings in other states have led to a 30 percent flag rate. The tendency of government programs is always to grow, and flagging large numbers of teens for mental instability will only threaten their privacy and grow the bureaucratic therapeutic state.
On the right, the biggest push for a national database is the E-Verify system to make sure employers only hire U.S. citizens and well-documented immigrants. Conservatives want small businesses to bear the cost of E-Verify and fold their employment decisions into a national database. This is not what conservatism is supposed to be, but it sure reflects where it is now. The high error rate common to federal databases could easily mean more Americans will be unjustly denied a job than there are actual undocumented immigrants in the country! What is the solution for technocratic Republicans? Outsource the database to VISA! Track immigrants with Federal Express barcodes! Mandatory E-Verify will bring the bureaucratic powers of the state into the employer-employee relationship as never before and set up the dangerous precedent that working for a living is a privilege, not a right.
The ability of the federal government to maintain a secure and accurate national database of any kind is suspect, whether used in health care, mental health or immigration.