Crazy people with guns

Why the gun control versus mental illness debate is dishonest and dangerous distraction.

First and foremost. The majority of people with mental illness are not violent. It’s quite easy to say, “look at that horrible violent crime. The perpetrators must be mentally ill.” The media look back at mass murders reinforces a stereotype that pathogizes people who seek treatment for mental health issues.I’ll repeat because we cannot say this enough: the vast majority of people with mental health issues are not violent.

Pro gun republicans and libertarians are planting a false debate that gun control should not be an important part of the solution. “It’s mental health!” they say (or immigration, depending of the color of the perpetrators skin).

The truth is the policies that republicans push eliminate the very safety nets essential for people with mental health issues.

You know those adults on Medicaid that are demonized as not working enough for the republicans? People with untreated mental illness are more likely to be unable to maintain steady employment. Their Medicaid is their ticket to essential mental health care. Republican states are queuing up to add able bodied adult work requirements for Medicaid that will most surely impact people with mental health and substance abuse issues.

If they are able to sustain employment and have private health insurance, the affordable healthcare act (ACA) ensures that mental health benefits are included in their plan no matter what state they live in. The GOP opposes essential health benefits. Along with prenatal care, mental health services are targets of the “I don’t need it so why should I pay for a plan that covers x” mentality.

It’s no secret that the National Rifle Association (NRA) makes significant donations to politicians, heavily focusing on republications. Again, Trump and the republicans have proven through policy that access to weapons trumps public safety and the needs of people with mental health issues. Any attempt to implement common sense gun legislation is targeted with a two prong attack: legislation and heavy propaganda. This article from 2012 documents NRA’s highly effective social media reach.

The NRAs propaganda is highly effective. Most Americans advocate for common sense gun legislation yet the debate is entrenched and we are mired in inaction. Democrats are not looking for an unconstitutional ban on guns. Yet the NRA political campaigns would suggest that we are divided. The social media campaigns seek to push Americans apart when it’s time for us to come together.

Sadly, there are too many moments when children who are killed and their families are in my thoughts and prayers.

Too many.

My heart aches.

And I never want to become numb to the grief. I never want to become desensitized. I hope you don’t either.

I want our grief to mobilize us to unite and take action. My faith tells me that I have a responsibility to be part of the solution. That prayer and action are linked.

I want common sense gun restrictions. I want a robust safety net for people with mental illness. I want effective treatment. I want my elected officials to break the grip that the NRA has on them.

I am an engaged citizen and I vote.

6 thoughts on “Crazy people with guns

  1. conservativepolitics February 17, 2018 / 3:35 pm

    But what about the $3,845,342 the NRA gives to the Democrat party? $10 million or $10.00 they still throw money to both parties. Yet liberals only want to mention the Republicans. And according to researchers most if not all mass killers have mental issues…The problem is in most states people with mental issues can still buy guns.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Teresa Berkowitz February 17, 2018 / 5:43 pm

      Thanks for reaching out. The more we talk, the better our country’s policies will get. My link showed that the Democrats are getting some donations (but by and large much less). Current democrats are making it known that we don’t want our candidates accepting NRA contributors. I’m very big on that.
      As far as access to firearms for people with mental health issues, I like NAMIs approach which looks for the violent traits that makes someone ineligible which would apply to people who have a diagnosis and those that do not. That way individuals with a MH diagnosis who are nonviolent would not have their rights infringed upon.

      Unlike the propaganda, most of us DEMs are not advocating for the end of access to guns. Just common sense laws.

      Liked by 1 person

      • conservativepolitics February 17, 2018 / 6:29 pm

        I am diagnosed with Bipolar I Disorder with mixed episodes. I am non-violent – as long as I am on the correct meds. I can and will “fly off the handle” without a seconds warning without being on my meds. I have been this way for years, but it had been misdiagnosed up until about 3 years ago when I finally broke down mentally and needed to be hospitalized.

        The biggest problem is not with the gun or gun laws, it’s in the mental issues and how people are being misdiagnosed and medicated wrongly. I know there are loopholes to buy a gun in America and they need to be evaluated. I see the mental part as being a bigger issue though. But, I am one of the few Americans with a “mental illness” that is not allowed to purchase a gun now. I don’t want to have a gun either but I respect others that do want them. I’m not saying you are not respecting gun owners – I may not have explained it the right way – I hope you don’t take it the wrong way.

        I’m just saying the NRA is not the ones to throw the whole blame on. They don’t condone murders or mass murders. They do lobby as does many companies that have or stand for things that kill way more people like abortionist. I like the idea of common sense gun laws but it seems to become a lawmaker you don’t need any common sense on either side of the aisle.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Teresa Berkowitz February 17, 2018 / 6:36 pm

        No. You didn’t say it the wrong way. I have also talked to vets who now have PTSD and/or anxiety. I want us to be safe without stigmatizing people who seek treatment and get a diagnosis.

        I also want our country to do a better job with diagnosis and treatment.

        I agree that there are lots of factors. I don’t thE think the NRA condones murders but they do attempt to break the growing consensus about common sense gun regulation. Their interest is most likely the impact on sales.

        Please keep in touch. I appreciate the open dialogue.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Teresa Berkowitz March 3, 2018 / 11:29 am

      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      In these times, it feels important to speak up. I strive to do so in a way that doesn’t reinforce the contemptuous back and forth that is so common now.

      Liked by 1 person

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