Attorney General Eric Holder and the U.S. Justice Department on Friday quietly proposed a regulation that will clarify what mental health reasons can be employed under federal law to prohibit citizens from receiving, possessing, shipping or transporting firearms.
According to officials at the Justice Department, this clarification will direct U.S. states and territories in determining what information they should share with the federal background check system known as the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
The stated goal is to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who may be a danger to themselves or others. However, the regulation’s language, as with many of the regulations and laws coming out of the Obama Administration, leaves room for interpretation.
“We are taking an important, commonsense step to clarify the federal firearms regulations, which will strengthen our ability to keep dangerous weapons out of the wrong hands,” said the controversial – some say ultra-political — Attorney General Holder.
“This step will provide clear guidance on who is prohibited from possessing firearms under federal law for reasons related to mental health, enabling America’s brave law enforcement and public safety officials to better protect the American people and ensure the safety of our homes and communities. And it is emblematic of the Justice Department’s broader commitment to use every tool and resource at its disposal to combat gun violence and prevent future tragedies while respecting the Constitutional rights to which all Americans are entitled,” Holder announced on Friday.
The revised definition clarifies that the statutory terms “adjudicated as a mental defective” and “committed to a mental institution” include persons who are found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect; persons lacking mental responsibility or deemed insane; and persons found guilty but mentally ill, regardless of whether these determinations are made by a state, local, federal or military court. The proposed regulation also …