In response to demands to reduce gun violence, one of the the few things that the NRA and President Obama appear to agree upon is creating a national registry of mentally ill people.
I think its interesting that this is a point of agreement in what is, to put it mildly, a rather cantankerous debate.
Why it is considered less of an intrusion on civil liberties to track and classify citizens based on what they tell their therapist, rather than limiting or regulating ownership of firearms? I don't know.
In any event, assuming this proposal goes forward, and is not thrown out by the Supreme Court, what types of mental illness will require reporting?
Will it include fetishes?
This is an important question -- we have to ask -- Does the desire for ownership of a firearm for hunting or self-defense (as protected by the Supreme Court) degrade into merely the desire to own an exciting toy, or even further, into an erotically charged warrior fantasy fetish?
The DSM-VI, the diagnostic manuel for psychotherapists, contains a diagnosis for fetishism as follows: "the use of non-living objects as a stimulus for arousal or satisfaction". It notes that fetishism is more likely to be diagnosed in men than women, and is accompanied by "recurrent, intense arousing fantasies".
Does this sound familiar?
Again, I'm not talking legitimate home defense.
The NRA's famous "Armed Citizen" feature provides scores of stories about how store owners or homeowners used firearms to defend against intruders. Assuming these tales are true, my casual perusal indicated that the armed citizen's weapon of choice is often either a revolver or shotgun (the very weapons law enforcement and security experts recommend for a non-professional). Not a semi-automatic rifle. Not a semi-automatic pistol with a 20 or 30 round clip.*
No, the "recurrent, intense arousing fantasies" read more like the movie "Red Dawn", or the resistance fighter dramas so popular among owners of assault rifles and large capacity magazine weapons. The Internet is full of their stirring tales of how liberty was won, and is preserved, by ordinary citizens armed with military rifles to stave off encroaching tyranny. And how without and armed "militia", the jackbooted thugs would be swarming over us.
This myth does not hold water, and no matter how much ALLCAPS is used to tell the tale, it just does not comport with history. Its was professionally trained troops, from America and (Mon Dieu!) France that fought off the British, while the ragtag militias were "weekend warriors". And the democracy movements against tyrants past and in the "Arab Spring" were successful not by armed citizens, but when factions of the military stood honorably against authoritarian abuse.
So the clinging to assault rifles and military style pistols, while breathlessly reciting fantasies of fighting off stormtroopers, has nothing to do with home defense, sportsmanship, or even protecting democracy.
Its about getting your rocks off.
NRA's Armed Citizen webpage:
*Despite these examples, the overwhelming evidence is that a gun in the home increases the likelihood of homicide in the home sevenfold:
Michael Lind's analysis: