Sunday, February 12, 2017

Still More on Guns and Mental Illness

The issue with mental illness and guns is so hard to explain to people. While there have been mass shooters with mental illness, in very few cases does the "mental illness" serve to explain what happened, and statistically, you should be much more worried about being killed by your spouse, the car next to you on the highway, that extra pain pill you take (especially if you take it with a sleeping pill or a drink), than you ever should be about a mentally ill mass shooter in a public place. Where the numbers of gun deaths rise is when you mix guns with substance abuse, especially in people prone to violence, anger, and impulsive actions; suicide (where people sometimes take action within minutes of making a now-irreversible decision); or accidental deaths where people are careless (which may be higher in people with cognitive problems or who are abusing substances). 

I had an editorial on a proposed repeal of a gun law this week, and the Chicago Tribune wrote on the same issue. Note their emphasis on mass shootings (none of which pertained to this ruling as none of the shooters received Social Security Disability Payments) and it didn't explain why someone would be on disability and might need a payee. Mine was not about violence but about common sense. Obviously I like mine better, but compare and see what you think, same issue, different arguments:

If someone has a mental illness severe enough that he cannot work or manage his own money, should he be allowed to own a gun?|By Editorial Board


Catlover said...

I became my relative's rep payee because he was too physically ill off and on to get to the bank. Also, the SSA will not allow a person with power of attorney to take care of paperwork for someone on disability. My relative has died, but he would have been on that list because he was on disability for mental illness and had a rep payee. That would have been a terrible thing. He was patriotic and was sure to fill out his absentee ballot when he was in the hospital dying (did not make it to election day so his vote didn't count). He so enjoyed deer hunting with family and friends. It is disgusting how innocent, kind hearted people with mental illnesses are portrayed as violent. I also have mental illness and I am on disability for it. Our pdoc thought hunting and target shooting were fine activities for us. We weren't weird about it.

Dinah said...

You are right, of course, and gun violence has little to do with mental illness. I took the stance I did in the Wall Street Journal article because of two things -- and know that I come from a pro-gun control stance -- not violence towards others, but most gun deaths are suicides. Any line that is drawn for pretty much any type of disqualification for anything is going to capture some who shouldn't be captured -- and also going to miss many of the people who are the most dangerous. So while you felt your relative was safe for hunting --and if he died a natural death and no one was ever injured with a gun he left lying around, then clearly that was the right call. So you could go with the NRA ruling that everyone should be armed to the hilt, or you could draw a line somewhere -- and you might ask why non-violent felons shouldn't have guns? I don't have an exact answer, it just struck me as a reasonable line for most people, not necessarily everyone. To me, it's not an issue of violence, but that people with poor judgement or cognitive impairment shouldn't own guns. I think if this was law, your relative would have just retained his own payee rights and set up direct deposit, or found another way around the ride to the bank issue.

Catlover said...

But the executive order was signed a few months after I became his rep payee. Retroactively, his rights were to be taken away.

Whether a person agrees with the Supreme Court or not, it was decided that firearm possession is a constitutional right. It is the Supreme Court's call. I didn't happen to agree with that decision, but it's not my say. There is no due process in this SSA rule, to deprive a person of a constitutional right. If the rule had been in place beforehand, sure, we wouldn't have me as rep payee.

Then it's getting to that other issue, restrict firearms to people with mental illness, many people will avoid any punitive "help"from the system.

Honestly, I don't get all the deal with the seriously mentally ill getting firearms...those I know who really are so impaired they aren't safe handling a firearm, all of those I have known were too broke to buy a gun. Geez, a handgun is a lot of money for someone on SSI.

Anyway, I know you don't like firearms. But it's not right for gun control advocates to target mental patients when the real agenda is to get rid of most firearms from everybody. People with mental problems are kicked around enough. I'm waiting to lose my driver's license because people deliberately use trucks to kill lots of people. And some people deliberately crash cars for suicide, so maybe it's for depressed peoples' good to lose their licenses.

I personally like the idea I've seen where if family or cops are worried about someone's behavior they can hold the firearms for awhile. If all seems ok, the person picks them up in a couple weeks.

This retroactive punishment of mental patients (change the rules after the fact!) is BS. I warn people now to stay away from the system if they can, if they care about their civil rights. Lots of people don't care.

The ACLU called foul on this rule, too.

William said...

What if one were to say instead: "If you can't manage your own finances, it's probably not a good idea for you to vote?"

Dinah said...

The Senate voted to repeal the ruling.