Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Beware

Congress OKs Va Tech-inspired gun bill

I'm still having big issues with being lumped together with criminals. I understand the need for a background check system, but if they're going to put people in there for merely being sick, people that have never committed a crime in their lives, they need to change the name from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. It's demeaning to those of us with mental illnesses and it only perpetuates the ignorant belief a lot of people hold that anyone with a mental illness poses a higher risk of being violent, when in fact, the research data clearly shows the exact opposite.

A far better use for the millions of dollars being spent on this fucking bill would be to fund more and better mental health care. In 2002, Bush established the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health to do a study of the mental health system in America. In 2003 they released a report that basically said it was in complete shambles and needed to be "fundamentally transformed", concluding that:

"After a year of study, and after reviewing research and testimony, the Commission finds that recovery from mental illness is now a real possibility. The promise of the New Freedom Initiative—a life in the community for everyone—can be realized. Yet, for too many Americans with mental illnesses, the mental health services and supports they need remain fragmented, disconnected and often inadequate, frustrating the opportunity for recovery. Today’s mental health care system is a patchwork relic—the result of disjointed reforms and policies. Instead of ready access to quality care, the system presents barriers that all too often add to the burden of mental illnesses for individuals, their families, and our communities."

Yet nothing has ever come of the report. No improvements have been made with respect to access to services. In fact, it has only gotten worse as more and more people seek help, all the while more and more funding to provide that help is being cut.

But back to the main reason I started this post...BEWARE! If they will pass a law inspired by the events of April 16th at VA Tech, this will only embolden them to try to push the envelope. Next they'll be trying to take away our right to privacy and give more access to our mental health records to schools, neighbors, the local McDonald's, whoever they think might be at risk for having a "crazy, mentally ill" person in their vicinity. They've already talked about it, so it wouldn't surprise me if someone has begun considering how to word the legislation for it.

2 Comments:

Blogger Joel said...

I don't know if you ever saw the article, but when this first started being discussed, I proposed that Congress allow the mentally ill to voluntarilly register themselves so that no one would sell a gun to them. I proposed this so that no one would sell a gun to me if I were suicidal and the important thing was to recognize that it was my choice whether to be on the list or not.

I agree. We should be careful about measures that might push the envelope towards involuntary man-handling of the mentally ill.

5:49 PM, December 20, 2007  
Blogger Deb said...

I LOVE LOVE LOVE Joel's idea. For me, having a gun wouldn't be a good thing. When my depression comes, I fear I might hurt myself. That being said, I feel the same way as do you about this issue. I think the bill further stigmatizes mental illness.

7:15 PM, December 20, 2007  

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