Obama’s Executive Orders: Gun Confiscation, Mental Health, and Perverse Incentives

   01.06.16

Obama’s Executive Orders: Gun Confiscation, Mental Health, and Perverse Incentives

This is the gun control debate in a nutshell.

  1. Tragedy
  2. Calls to “do something”
  3. Something is done that wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy
  4. One side: “This wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy, and just annoys law-abiders.” Other side: “But we have to do something, even if it’s symbolic or saves just one life.”

But Obama’s latest batch of executive orders don’t fit that template. Why? Because the first part of #4 should read “This wouldn’t have prevented the tragedy, and in fact it will likely make us all less safe.”

For a while now California has been looking through medical records and rounding up the guns of people who have at some point in the past self-reported various mental issues. The clear message to CA gun owners has been: if you want to keep your guns and you have a mental health issue, don’t you dare report it or let anyone else report it.

We’re about to have that perverse incentive on a national scale. If you’re a gun owner who has a mental health issue of any kind, you now have a very strong incentive not to seek help. You’re also incentivized to stop anyone else from seeking help on your behalf. I’m pretty sure this is the opposite of what Obama intends.

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