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365 Days of Writing Prompts: Day 33

February 2, 2016

Think global, act local

“Think global, act local.” Write a post connecting a global
issue to a personal one.

I am not sure how “global” this will be. It may just a problem unique to the United States. And it will likely be controversial.

Gun Safety Laws and Mental Illness

In the US, the 2nd Amendment is a big deal. Mental health is not, at least until someone who is declared mentally ill commits a heinous crime. Then the two get interwoven like a bad Christmas sweater.

I was raised around guns… rifles, shotguns, muzzle-loaders. My dad is a hunter. I took gun safety class in high school, something that is not done anymore. I know how to clean, load and shoot a gun. I also know not to leave any loaded guns around kids.

I am also certifiably mentally ill. I’ve been diagnosed and treated many many times. I know what medication does to the mind and it isn’t always helpful. Some medications can make one suicidal, other can make one homicidal.  Doctors do not know everything. I would not want anyone to give or sell *me* a gun.

So this is what I do not understand. One can be given or buy a gun from a neighbor, a parent or relative, or from a friend. One can even purchase guns at trade shows and gun shops. For the trade shows and gun shops, there is a waiting period for a background check. Not so with neighbors, relatives or friends. These background checks do not include link-ups to mental health facilities. Any deranged person can purchase a gun so long as they do not have a criminal background. Not every seriously mentally ill person has committed a crime. *I* have not committed a crime.

And yet, every time there is a heinous crime in this country, the first thing they check is to see if the culprit(s) have a mental illness. The majority do. So why, for the love of all things holy, don’t our over-paid bureaucrats do something about this problem? Why not set up a data base linked to all mental health facilities that have records of suicidal and homicidal people listed on it? All I hear is that it is a privacy rights issue. Fine, I understand that. Trust me, I don’t want the government knowing that I am mentally ill either. But if by some chance I went off my rocker completely and killed a lot of people and it could have been prevented… what does that say about me as a human being?

I get it… there is enough stigma around mental illness as it is. There is enough profiling. This is a privacy concern. And there are innocent lives out there too who are being slaughtered. Something has to give. And believe me, in the US, it won’t be the guns. Powerful lobbyists protect the 2nd Amendment. Our Constitution protects the 2nd Amendment.  But we need better background checks, safety laws, and mandatory training courses.

Maybe I am still too naive to think that we can trust these agencies with our mental health status. Maybe I want to believe that we won’t become targets for something far worse than a gun background check. And maybe there will never be an adequate solution to this problem. Just don’t let *me* have a gun. Ever.

 

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4 Comments
  1. robynneblack63 permalink

    Thanks Lori. I live in a world where even the police aren’t armed, and gun ownership laws are stringent. Its an eye opener.

  2. A sobering post, Lori. Gun laws are hard to fathom to those outside the US. Seems barmy from start to finish.

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