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.