Chuck MuthFor the Nevada Appeal

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February 1, 2013
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Chuck Muth: GOP legislator embraces Obama’s 11th Commandment

“You never let a serious crisis go to waste.”- So saideth Rahm Emanuel, former political adviser to President Obama — who has taken said advice to heart and effectively made it his own 11th Commandment.But it’s not just Democrats who swoop in to take advantage of a crisis. Alas, trying to capitalize on the raw emotional pain of a tragedy for political gain is one of the truest examples of bipartisanship you’ll find in the universe.Indeed, Nevada state Sen. Ben Kieckhefer, Reno Republican, is using both last year’s tragedy of the Newtown, Conn., “gun free zone” massacre and the bizarre case of Nevada state Assemblyman Steven Brooks’ alleged threat against a legislative colleague to promote passage of a new gun control measure.In an email to me, Kieckhefer said his proposal is to prohibit individuals from purchasing a gun who “are being held against their will at a psychiatric hospital who have been diagnosed with mental illness ... and who mental health professionals believe is an imminent danger to themselves or other people.”Sounds pretty reasonable, right? But wait a minute ...If a person is being held against their will in a psychiatric hospital, how in the world are they going to get to The Gun Store to purchase a gun? Or do they have AK-47 dispensaries in the psych wards that we all don’t know about?Kidding aside, if Kieckhefer is worried that current law could allow someone diagnosed as possibly being a threat to the community to be released from a mental health facility, then shouldn’t the solution be to change the law that allows such dangerous folks back on the street? After all, a danger to society can harm people with knives, hammers, baseball bats, axes and even his bare hands, right? Why only target guns?Indeed, what Kieckhefer’s proposal would actually do is enter into the federal criminal database the names of individuals who have been tentatively diagnosed as suffering from a severe mental illness but who have not yet had their due process day in court and have not yet been formally committed to a mental health institution by a judge.Being named in that database would prevent the individual from legally purchasing a gun. (Of course, obtaining one illegally is another story altogether.)At its heart, the Kieckhefer proposal would essentially declare someone guilty until proven innocent. And unless I miss my guess, that’s the exact opposite of what we supposedly stand for in this country.Another troubling fact in this is that Kieckhefer reportedly consulted with all manner of individuals and entities before announcing his proposal. Conspicuous by their absence in these consultations: The National Rifle Association. Or any other gun rights advocates.Watch out for this one, folks.• Chuck Muth is president of and blogs at

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 1, 2013 04:37AM Published Feb 1, 2013 04:37AM Copyright 2013 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.