Sunday, July 03, 2016

Mental Illness & Guns

I know that this is a very controversial topic so let me state what I believe in first.

  • I believe everyone in the U.S. has a right to own guns in their own home.
  • I believe that everyone that buys a gun should have a criminal back ground check and that if they fail a background check that they have a right to appeal. I do not believe that the check has to be done within 72 hours that is unrealistic. Somewhere around two weeks is more reasonable and if they are denied the permit they they have a two week window to file an appeal before a review board.
  • I believe military type weapons should be banned
  • I believe large capacity magazines should be banned. There is a video out there that shows a person changing magazine clips as fast as a person with a large capacity clip can fire, but the clips are all neatly lined up on a barrel in front of them. I would like to see the test redone with taking them from a belt or pouch.
  • I do not believe in “open carry,” it is a form of intimidation and immaturity.
  • I do not believe in allowing guns to be on college campuses.
  • I do not believe in “stand your ground” laws, you should have a responsibility to retreat first and the only exception should be in your own home or residence.

Okay, now that is out of the way I would like to talk about mental illness and guns. The big thing from the gun lobby now is about keeping the guns out of the mentally ill, this sounds great and I agree but the problem is most of the killers were never diagnosed with a mental illness and second how are you going to find out that they are mentally ill? Are you going to require all therapists to provide a list of their patients in violation of the patient therapist privacy rights? Or are you going to require everyone who wants a gun permit to get a mental health evaluation?

This post came about from reading comments on a post on CT News Junkie website, a number of comments said things like,
Susan, how about just once someone write a jouralistic [sic] piece about the mental health resources in this country/state. Why not write about how these people who kill have histories of some type of mental issue or at least showed signs…
In researching this blog post I found an excellent research paper on mental illness and guns.
Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms
Am J Public Health. 2015 February; 105(2): 240–249.
By Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD corresponding author and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD

Four assumptions frequently arise in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States: (1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting). Each of these statements is certainly true in particular instances. Yet, as we show, notions of mental illness that emerge in relation to mass shootings frequently reflect larger cultural stereotypes and anxieties about matters such as race/ethnicity, social class, and politics. These issues become obscured when mass shootings come to stand in for all gun crime, and when “mentally ill” ceases to be a medical designation and becomes a sign of violent threat.
And the paper ends with this conclusion,
Our brief review suggests that connections between mental illness and gun violence are less causal and more complex than current US public opinion and legislative action allow. US gun rights advocates are fond of the phrase “guns don’t kill people, people do.” The findings cited earlier in this article suggest that neither guns nor people exist in isolation from social or historical influences. A growing body of data reveals that US gun crime happens when guns and people come together in particular, destructive ways. That is to say, gun violence in all its forms has a social context, and that context is not something that “mental illness” can describe nor that mental health practitioners can be expected to address in isolation.
Mass shootings represent national awakenings and moments when seeming political or social adversaries might come together to find common ground, whether guns are allowed, regulated, or banned. Doing so, however, means recognizing that gun crimes, mental illnesses, social networks, and gun access issues are complexly interrelated, and not reducible to simple cause and effect. Ultimately, the ways our society frames these connections reveal as much about our particular cultural politics, biases, and blind spots as it does about the acts of lone, and obviously troubled, individuals.
The mental health issues about gun controls is a red herring.

Last week a Texas mother who shot her two daughters to death was a strong pro-gun advocate who had no history of mental illness but for some reason she snapped.

Please kept your comments respectable and they will get published.

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