Gun control opponents embrace president's focus on mental health - KCTV5

Gun control opponents embrace president's focus on mental health

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RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Mental health and guns are expected to be a big topic this year. President Obama has announced two executive orders on background checks in just the last week. Gun advocates are now firing off on how this could impact Virginia, as a new governor takes office this weekend.

Determining who can pack heat just got more nuanced with President Barack Obama's two executive actions on gun background checks.

"I am sick and tired of his executive orders because he has superceded congressional authority too many times," said David Hancock with Bob's Sport Shop.

Hancock is skeptical about the first action that gives health care providers the option of handing over relevant patient mental health information.

"It's a feel good," said Hancock of the orders. "I'm going to make somebody think I'm doing something."

Hancock says his shop sells about 20,000 guns each year. He says about 5 people are flagged each month and are ultimately rejected. Local gun advocates say they are happy to see the focus turn toward mental health instead of guns.

"Because the real issue with all of this isn't the tool that a person uses," said Philip Van Cleave with Virginia Citizens Defense League. "It's the fact that some people desperately need help."

Van Cleave says Virginia already embraces the presidents second suggestion that whether you're committed voluntarily or involuntarily you lose your gun rights until cured.

"Right now in Virginia you have to be at least adjudicated." said Van Cleave. "In other words, you have to go in front of a judge. It's not like somebody can say I think he is crazy and then take his guns away."

Van Cleave says his group will be watching to make sure mental health reform doesn't become a new avenue for gun control measures.

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