In a story that has become all too familiar, last weekend a mentally deranged man went on a shooting rampage and killed innocent people.
In some circles, this tragedy has restarted a call for gun control.
I predict this story will play out the way many such tragic stories do, some people will call for more restrictions on gun ownership, and some people will call for more guns everywhere. In the end, nothing will happen.
First and foremost, the problem is a Mental Health issue. Mental Health issues are very common in our country. According to the Mentalhealth.gov, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental health issue, including 1 in 10 youth who experience “severe” depression. However, mental health issues still carry a huge stigma in our Country.
Many people do not view Mental Health issues as a “sickness” but rather as a “weakness”. This is particularly true in Men, who do not recognize, acknowledge, or seek help for their mental health issues.
For many people, the only time they think about the issues facing people with Mental Health is when somebody commits some sort of a violent crime. Now I want to make something very clear. People who have Mental Health issues are NOT all violent. In fact, not even a majority of violent crime is committed by people with Mental Health Issues.
However, it is fair to admit that people with Mental Health Issues are overrepresented as perpetrators of major acts of Violent Crime.
So far, we have lacked any sort of a comprehensive plan to address this issue. The NRA has called for a “‘active’ mental illness database” that will allow for states to share mental health records and enforce current laws better.
The problem I have with this is why we need to create a large national data base of people with mental health issues just in case one of them wants to buy a gun. The NRA is a big fan of the slippery slope theory, so if they create a list to deny gun ownership today, will the same list be used tomorrow to deny employment, to deny housing, or anything else.
Is the best way to address the problem of men who do not want to access mental health care to tell them that if they do, they will be put on a national list for doing so? Furthermore, if people do not seek mental health treatment or are not committed prior to buying a gun, they would not be on the list in the first place.
In the end, the list would be expensive, a big threat to privacy rights, and just as ineffective as the current system.
However, I do think it is time that we mandate a comprehensive mental health evaluation prior to gun ownership. All of us agree that we do not want people who are violently mentally ill or suicidal buying guns. The only way to find out if they are violently mentally ill is to have them professionally checked prior to buying a gun.
This evaluation should include access by the determining professional to all health care records of the purchaser in order to establish a case by case history and determine if a potential gun owner is a threat.
I want to make something very clear. I am a gun owner. I use guns to hunt, I shoot for sport, I have taught my wife and kids to shoot, and I have an had occasion to use my gun for protection of my family. Gun ownership and usage in my family has occurred since the first members of my family got off the boat.
The last thing I want is more regulation on my guns.
However, we all must realize that allowing people with violent mental health issues access to guns is a threat to all of us. We need to work harder to cut off their access to guns.