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Gun Control & Mental Illness

Politicians at the federal level will be giving recommendations for gun control laws to prevent these crimes. I fear that mental illness will be both a scapegoat and a target (no pun intended).

In the last year, there have been two very highly publicized mass shootings in our country. Every single day, there are less publicized stories of shootings in various Metro Detroit cities. In the coming weeks, politicians at the Federal level are supposed to be giving recommendations for gun control laws to prevent these crimes. I fear that mental illness will be both a scapegoat and a target (No pun intended).

Here is my background: I was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder in 2003. I am gainfully employed and volunteer several hours a week to help others. I do not want a gun but believe in people's rights to own and carry. 

Sad Truth: I am far more likely to hurt myself than someone else. In fact, I would rather hurt myself than someone else. The vast majority of people die by suicide than by a mass shooting at the hands of someone with a mental illness. This is a better and less stigmatizing reason to have laws in place. 

Here are the facts: It has been documented in study after study that a person with a mental illness is at no greater risk of committing a violent crime than someone who does not have a mental illness. In fact, many studies also show that people with a mental illness are more likely to be the victim of a violent crime than the perpetrator. Looking at Demographics, no one in a million years would ever say to not let an African American man...or simply a man purchase a gun. There are more statistics and studies to support that logic than the logic to prevent a person with a mental illness from carrying a gun. I believe laws that target any of these groups would be wrong. 

Here is my fear: The only way to truly stop people with a mental illness from having a gun is to create a database. They have these in Europe very much like we have for sex offenders. Having a mental illness is not a crime, and we should NOT have a database. As we move forward with the ACA and electronic records, this is a likely scenario. I have absolutely no desire to have a gun, so I shouldn't be in a database. Looking at the reaction from these horrific acts, I can see the stigma and ignorance increase. Having a database would be just like wearing a scarlet letter. 

Here is the Population: 1 in 5 people has been diagnosed with a mental llness. Therefore, 20% of the population would not be able to carry a weapon. I have also heard that the statistic is closer to 1 in 4. Guess what...Zoloft is not a heart pill and Lexapro isn't just for your nerves. They are antidepressants that millions of people take but act like they don't have a diagnosis. If you support gun control in general, this is still not the way to go. 

The fact is...mental illness is NOT a factor or predictor of violence. We do need to do better by our citizens who are diagnosed with a mental illness. Limiting their rights is not the way to go about this. Creating a database would be catastrophic. Mental illness is not the issue. Please do not let it be the scapegoat. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

cookiepro2 January 15, 2013 at 11:36 PM
True,it looks like they are trying to codify something that involves subjective judgment on the therapist's part. It is a broader philosophical question too, if a professional (therapist or clergy) hears something in confidence, that may involve potential harm to others, are they obligated to report it, or are they bound by professional ethics to keep it private? How would such a law be enforced?
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Frustrated Old Man January 26, 2013 at 05:43 PM
Be careful what you ask for. This can be a slippery slope. Who decides if you're mentally ill or not? Where do they draw the line? What if someone overheard you say..."If he cheats on me I'm going to kill him", and reports you? Once they determine you're too unstable to own a gun, how will that affect your employment? How long before government might require a mental evaluation before you're allowed to obtain a drivers license, or be approved for a loan/mortgage? What about marriage, having children? Will you be allowed to vote? Think it can't happen? Think again!
cookiepro2 January 26, 2013 at 10:57 PM
Upon reconsideration, I think a law by which a "therapist reports a patient's mass killing intention to law enforcement officials" is definitely not on the slippery slope. The NY legislation I see as more of a CYA for mental health practictioners to do what any of us would do if we heard of a threat, it is a good and safe measure for society. It's a far cry from keeping databases of who's sought mental health care and cross-checking before issuing gun permits.
Mackey Chandler January 27, 2013 at 12:46 PM
Re: Carol's relative who has not managed -yet- to harm the family. She wants the right to be consulted if that person seeks a weapon. Yet she says: No one ever called the police. Why? You were assaulted and already attacked with a knife. Dead is dead. I suppose you will be forced to call the police when Uncle Harry had a chef's knife stuck in his chest. Just be aware if police come out and your relative is waving a knife around they will shoot her dead. That's the sort of outcome you get when you put off dealing with it until it can't be ignored any longer.

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