The case of Thomas Landry, a veteran reportedly being treated for PTSD whom his girlfriend witnessed shooting Somali immigrant Josephine Otim, shows that U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) was wrong in her stated reasons for voting against expanded gun-buyer background checks. Ayotte justified her vote against the Manchin-Toomey bill by touting her support of Sen. Chuck Grassley’s alternative bill.
In addition to the standard defense-of-gun-rights rhetoric, Ayotte’s stated rationale for supporting the Grassley bill she co-sponsored was that it was necessary to identify and expand the provision of mental health services to potential perpetrators of gun violence, including veterans, to curb Sandy Hook Elementary School-style massacres.
The fact is, the shooting in Manchester, which is located 20 miles from Ayotte’s hometown of Nashua, was committed by a veteran who claimed that he was being treated and under supervision for mental illness, an assertion backed up by family.
When Ayotte’s favorability ratings tanked after her vote against Manchin-Toomey, she began touting her support for the alternative bill introduced into the Senate to derail it, Charles Grassley’s Protecting Communities and Protecting the Second Amendment Act. She claimed that the current background check system for gun-buyers, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), was flawed, and that passage of Manchin-Toomey would only have expanded a defective system.
The Grassley-Ayotte bill focuses on improving the filing of mental health records with the NCIS and improving adjudications of potential perpetrators of violent acts who already are in the criminal justice system or are being treating by the Veterans Administration (VA). The bill seeks to accomplish this goal by giving grants to law enforcement agencies and the VA.
Ayotte says that due to the linkage between mental illness and gun violence, she supports the Mental Health Awareness and Improvement Act that seeks to identify and help students suffering from mental illness and students who have gone through traumatic events. (The term “traumatic events” likely includes shootings committed by students, like at Columbine High School, and by outsiders, like at Sandy Hook.)
She also supports the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act and has introduced the Begich-Ayotte-Blumenthal Mental Health First Aid Act. According to her Senate website, the latter two proposed laws are “focused on providing training and resources for law enforcement and other community partners to help them identify individuals with mental health issues and make sure they receive proper treatment.”
She says she supports identifying, reporting and treating the mentally ill to reduce gun violence. Yet, Thomas Landry was being treated for mental illness, was under supervision, yet had a gun. Treatment and supervision of the mentally ill apparently is not enough to reduce senseless acts of gun violence when politicians like Ayotte do nothing to limit access to firearms.
Even if Landry had been identified and reported to the NCIS, there are enough loopholes in the NRA-approved “gun control” legislation that Ayotte sponsored to make sure that mentally ill individuals can acquire firearms. Gun shows and private sales are notorious for being sieves through which guns make it to individuals who should not possess them.
Ayotte seeks to help schools, law enforcement agencies, and the VA identify and treat mental illness in students. Identifying gun owners is another matter.
The Grassley-Ayotte Act languishes in the Senate and will never be passed. Despite her talk of improving the NCIS, she is on record saying she opposes expanded background checks because that would be a precursor to gun confiscation, despite the Supreme Court’s Heller ruling that extended constitutional protection to individual gun ownership under the aegis of the Second Amendment.
Kelly Ayotte has failed in her self-appointed role as an opponent of irrational acts of gun violence not only in fact (her vote against Manchin-Toomey, the only background check expansion bill with a chance to pass), but in theory. Ayotte has hypocritically presented herself as being for improving the background check system while remaining opposed to what must be done to reduce gun violence, restricting access to guns. The former Attorney General seems more focused on defeating meaningful gun control legislation while using the issue to channel more money to law enforcement bureaucrats.
All of her self-serving justifications are just hot air expelled to inflate her sagging ratings, meaningless sophistry. As Thomas Landry’s alleged shooting-of Josephine Otim shows, she is dead wrong in her hands-off approach to curbing gun violence.