Accuracy in Media

In the wake of the two recent mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, CNN’s Alisyn Camerota had an idea about how to improve gun control measures.

She suggested that gun store owners simply ask their customers if they’re suffering from mental illness.

On a recent panel discussing the prevention of mass shootings, Camerota said, “How onerous would it be to have a gun shop owner just say, ‘By the way, are you hearing voices? Do you think people are chasing you? Do you think everybody is watching you?’ It would have weeded out – possibly – this guy.”

Camerota seems to be overlooking the fact that safety is already a top priority for gun store owners. An FFL (Federal Firearms License) is difficult to obtain and licensed dealers do not take their responsibility lightly, but they are not trained mental health professionals. 

Meghan McCain commented on the matter, saying, “People who have never purchased guns don’t know how seriously dealers take purchasers and their mental health. This is the LAST thing sellers want.”

That aside, the biggest issue with Camerota’s suggestion is that it’s highly unlikely a customer suffering from mental illness would even admit it to a gun store owner if asked. 

Additionally, the ATF Form 4473 that all gun purchasers are required to fill out already has questions about mental illness on it. Purchasers must answer the following: “Have you ever been adjudicated as a mental defective or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?” 

Members of the media are often criticized for weighing in on gun rights without actually knowing much about guns or the process of purchasing them. They also often fail to suggest a piece of legislation that would actually prevent shootings like the one in Boulder, where it appears that the shooter purchased his firearms legally despite a history of mental illness.

Colorado already has universal background checks and red flag laws, and the City of Boulder had a two-year ban on assault weapons. 




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