Few things are as annoying as having to correct the same lie twice, but what do you expect when your job involves writing about the news industry?
In February, we tackled reports alleging the GOP and the National Rifle Association had conspired to make it "easier" for the mentally unstable to purchase firearms. This is an intentional misrepresentation of the facts, and we spent a bit of time then correcting the record.
It's now October, and certain members of the press are still pushing this bogus narrative.
Here's what happened earlier this year: Congress voted to overturn a last-minute Obama-era regulation that would give the Social Security Administration the power to revoke a person's Second Amendment rights based on whether he receives disability for a mental impairment that keeps him from working, or if he "[uses] a representative payee to help manage their benefits."
As my Washington Examiner colleague David Freddoso explained at the time, the repeal of the Obama-era regulation, "doesn't allow people to buy guns who have been properly adjudicated by a court of law as mentally ill or unstable."
"The Obama-era rule was designed to take away people's rights without due process of law. It would have flagged the names of people who, for example, have an anxiety disorder or depression which keeps them from working, and who, as the SSA puts it, ‘need help in managing [their] personal money affairs,'" he added. "As the many non-political mental health and autism advocacy groups that supported the House action noted, there is no link between these factors and a propensity for violence."
Also, it's worth noting that there are already regulations on firearm purchases by persons who have a documented history of mental illness, or who have shown themselves to be a danger. Accusing the GOP here of making it "easier" for the mentally insane to get guns is the equivalent of setting an orphanage on fire under the assumption there may be housing future murderers, and then accusing the fire brigade of making the world a safer place for killers after they eventually extinguish the deadly hare-brained scheme.
Republican lawmakers were joined in their opposition to the regulation by a number of disability and civil liberty advocacy groups, including the American Association of People with Disabilities, the Arc of the United States, the Association of Mature American Citizens, the Autistic Self-Advocacy Network, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Council on Disability, the National Disability Rights Network and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Like the GOP, these organizations held that the Obama gun regulation posed a threat to civil liberties. They also argued that the now-defunct regulation stigmatized the disabled.
Opposition wasn't about making it "easier" for the mentally unstable to get their hands on firearms. Only an intentionally uncharitable read of the issue would take someone to that conclusion. Opposition was about restoring due process rights to people caught up in the now-defunct regulation's overly broad guidelines.
On Sunday, a gunman shot and killed 59 people at a country music festival in Clarke County, Nevada, and injured hundreds more.
For some in media, this seemed as good a time as any to dust off months-old reports alleging the GOP wants crazy people to have "easier" access to firearms.
"Trump signed measure ‘to make it much easier for severely mentally ill Americans to buy guns, a priority for the National Rifle Association,'" Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne tweeted this week, quoting a Politico report published in August.
Dionne's tweet was in response to a separate note on social media from Politico's Michael Grunwald, who wrote, "Read through to the third paragraph. The most egregious move by the NRA, Trump & the GOP."
If you click on the link included in Grunwald's tweet, it takes you to a story he wrote two months ago titled, "Trump's Secret Weapon Against Obama's Legacy."
The third paragraph in his story reads thus:
The third bill that Trump signed that day, H.J.Res. 40, had more policy significance … Trump did not let the media film him signing that one. That's because the substantive impact of that bill was to make it much easier for severely mentally ill Americans to buy guns, a priority for the National Rifle Association but not for the public.
Damn that due process.
We've already corrected this intentionally deceptive narrative once, and we aren't thrilled that we need to do it a second time. It'd be nice if certain reporters familiarized themselves with the opposition to the overturned Obama gun regulation. It'd also be nice if certain pundits actually read the language of the legislation they keep attacking. But seeing as neither of these things are probably going to happen, we have resigned ourselves to the likelihood that we'll have to revisit this spurious version of events at least two or three more times over the next couple of years.
It's a dirty job, etc., etc.