Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Dean Heller, Meet Steven Brooks.

Yesterday, Jon Ralston interviewed Roxanne Brooks. She's the mother of Former Assembly Member Steven Brooks. Ms. Brooks went on statewide TV last night to tell her family's side of this tragic story.

(The interview starts at 17:30.)

Last night, Roxanne Brooks confirmed what most had already been suspecting. She recalled her constant efforts to help her son obtain the mental health treatment he needed. Yet for far too long, not enough people saw what she saw. And by the time they did, it may have been too late.

There are many serious and disturbing issues that have been unearthed due to the Steven Brooks scandal here in Nevada. But today, I'd like for us to touch on one that reaches all the way to Washington, DC.

There, gun safety legislation seems to have stalled. Despite strong public support for gun safety reform, some Members of Congress are backing away from common sense measures... Even the ones with nearly 90% support! Last Thursday, just hours after the Nevada Assembly voted to expel Brooks, Senator Dean Heller (R-Office Space) blamed Hollywood for recent gun violence. No really, he went there.

Did Hollywood encourage Steven Brooks to attempt to buy a gun in Sparks in February? I seriously doubt that. Even if some movie or video game did inspire Brooks to walk into Scheels to attempt to purchase firearms and ammunition, the entertainment industry ultimately has no power over firearms policy. Senator Heller, however, does.

So what will Dean Heller do with that power? After initially warming up to wildly popular gun violence prevention measures like expanded background checks, he seems to be flip-flopping back to knee-jerk opposition. As mentioned above, Heller is now blaming Hollywood for recent massacres. And on top of passing the buck in such a ridiculous manner, Heller is also pushing dangerous NRA approved legislation that will actually allow the severely mentally ill to purchase guns & ammunition!

No really, check this out.

[US Senator Mark] Pryor [D-Arkansas], along with Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Mark Begich (D-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nevada), and Jeff Flake (R-Arizona), has introduced the NICS Reporting Improvement Act (S. 480). The Act clarifies that mentally ill people are prevented from obtaining firearms but defines that term narrowly, so as to allow patients who had been treated for mental illness to pass a federal background check and purchase guns.

For instance, federal law prohibits people who are ordered by a court into involuntary treatment, found to pose a danger to themselves or others, or lack the mental capacity to enter into legal contracts from buying weapons —even though individuals can petition to have their rights restored in 22 states. The bipartisan NICS Reporting Improvement Act would allow these people to purchase weapons immediately after being released, unless it can be proven that they pose an “imminent” danger.

Since the shooting at Virginia Tech, the number of mental health records in NICS has grown from 200,000 to 1.2 million, though “millions of records identifying seriously mentally ill people and drug abusers as prohibited purchasers are missing from the federal background check database because of lax reporting by state agencies,” a report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns found. Pryor’s bill would keep even more mentally ill individuals out of the system.

“I doen’t listen to [New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg] on these issues, I listen to Arkansas,” Pryor said. A recent poll found that 84 percent of Arkansans support expanding background checks to all firearm purchsases.

And it's at 86% support here in Nevada. Just don't tell that to Dean Heller. I guess this is how he's being so "no labels post-partisan". He's found a tiny handful of Red State/Blue Dog Democrats to join with him and other Republicans to essentially undermine the very background checks legislation that US Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada) is rounding up votes for... And Dean Heller at one time suggested he'd vote for!

If Heller, these other conservative Senators, and the NRA get their way, millions of people who otherwise shouldn't be able to access dangerous weapons will be able to do so. Perhaps even Steven Brooks would have been able to buy that gun & ammo at the Sparks Scheels had Heller's legislation been in place. Was Dean Heller that oblivious to what had just happened in Carson City when he was addressing the Nevada Legislature? Perhaps so.

While the rest of us in Nevada have had to learn some tough lessons from the Steven Brooks scandal, it looks like Dean Heller has learned nothing. And not only that, but he's even turning against legislation that even conservative Republicans have supported! And not only that, but Heller is even pursuing legislation that likely would have worsened this hot mess had it been in place earlier this year. This may turn out to be yet another horrific tragedy of this sorry story.

No comments:

Post a Comment