If the NRA and other gun groups truly supported gun rights for all law-abiding citizens, they would defend people like Clifford Tyler.
Tyler spent one month in a mental facility in 1986 following a messy divorce, where his wife cleaned out his bank accounts and left him for another man. Despite no history of violence or criminal record, he was prohibited from owning a gun for the rest of his life because he was “mentally ill”.
Tyler eventually sued the federal government, and last week a US Appeals Court in Cincinnati ruled to restore his gun rights. It is the first time that a federal appeals court has ruled a gun law unconstitutional since 2008.
Aside from its historic significance, the case stands out because the NRA didn't take part. While the NRA usually gets involved in every high profile gun case, this time they did nothing other than issue a weak statement after the ruling came out.
This is because the NRA doesn’t like to get involved with anything having to do with mental illness and gun rights. Instead, they make a big show of supporting laws to disarm people with mental health problems.
They have encouraged states to share mental health information with the National Instant Criminal Background check system and they have asked Congress to block the mentally ill from accessing guns. After the Sandy Hook massacre in 2013, NRA President Wayne LaPierre called for an “active national database of the mentally ill”.
The only thing these restrictions do is punish law-abiding gun owners like Clifford Tyler, while giving the government another excuse to confiscate weapons. Meanwhile, a mentally ill person who is hell-bent on killing someone will have no problem buying a gun illegally – just like any other criminal.