One of the Last Taboos and Gun Violence

So these days, if you’re gay that’s OK. If you’re trans, that’s grand. There aren’t very many things that an individual can be that isn’t considered an automatic societal reject anymore. I don’t mean criminals, but just different types of people who, in the past, have been ostracized for who they are, not things they have done. I think most well-intentioned people think that is a good thing.

What I want to mention in this blog is mental illness. Nowadays, in most parts of the country and in the media, it’s not okay to call somebody a “fag”, “lezzy”, or “he-she”. These terms were ubiquitous when I was growing up and much into my adult life. If a public official gets caught saying stuff like that now, there is hell to pay. Nevertheless, it’s still okay to call people “crazy”, “nuts”, “psycho”, either seriously or jokingly. Nothing will happen to you and no affirmative action officers will bother you. A lot of times people will describe someone as “schizophrenic”, meaning that they seem to have two opposing personalities, when that has nothing to do with the clinical diagnosis of schizophrenia.

In the gun safety debate, the phrase “mental illness” gets tossed about a lot, mostly by the pro-gun side. It is done because they would rather talk about mental illness than gun safety. First of all, it would seem to me that anybody who commits a murder, especially a mass murder, probably isn’t in the best of mental health. It’s debatable whether they have a diagnosis of mental illness. In most cases, probably not. It’s analogous to the defense “not guilty by reason of insanity” or NGRI. For somebody to be found NGRI, the standard is that they didn’t realize that their actions were wrong. A pretty difficult standard to meet. And since John Hinckley was NGRI in President Reagan’s assassination attempt in 1981, it has become virtually impossible. So, it would appear that the vast majority of gun violence is committed by sane persons. At least legally speaking. And I would guess that there are few, if any, Republicans who want to see more people judged NGRI.

Most mentally ill are in more danger from others than they are to others. And that danger is most likely to be toward themselves. Check out this link: http://depts.washington.edu/mhreport/facts_violence.php Also this one, from a conservative viewpoint:

The Problem With Blaming Mass Shootings On Mental Illness

. Or a liberal viewpoint: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2015/10/mental-health-gun-laws-washington-post-poll. Add to that the fact that, if you include depression, which has been called “the common cold of mental illness”, there are a lot of present and former mentally ill in this country.

So in my view, anybody with a history of depression is an iffy candidate for gun ownership. And anyone with a history of paranoid schizophrenia should never have access to a firearm. Depressed people are at risk for suicide, and paranoid schizophrenics are at risk for homicide. But I would guess there are very few people whose depression would show up on a background check. If it did, I would say they would need psychiatric certification to own a gun. Paranoids should never, ever have access to a firearm. Absent those two categories, the mental illness argument is a smoke screen to allow politicians to slither out of passing any gun-safety seatbelt laws.

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