Social Workers & Gun Control: Careful What You Wish For

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Given the recent, highly politicized mass-shootings involving unstable individuals, the natural reaction for the left is to blame the guns & demand more gun control. However, there is an ever increasing chorus on the right calling for a conversation on mental health. Caution should be taken when advocating for this. That conversation could very well lead to legislation.

And therein lies the problem; who decides? The same doctors that donned their clinical white coats and stood with Obama to vouch for the Affordable Care Act? The AMA? Is it inconceivable that cherry picked doctors could be used to testify in front of Congress to justify de facto gun control? Also, what constitutes mental illness? Could guns be taken away from a mother suffering from postpartum depression? What about, say, if a person were 16 and the love of their life broke their heart? Let’s say, as 16-year-olds do, that they think their life is over and threatened suicide. Out of concern for the child, said child’s parents place that person in psychiatric care on a 72 hour hold for observation and counseling. Could that be used 20 years later to deny that person purchase of a firearm?

All of these questions could no longer be your doctor’s questions to answer if mental health gun-control legislation is passed. The truth is most people who are mentally ill are also not violent. Judging by the sales of Paxil, Lexapro, Wellbutrin, Prozac, etc. there should be a mass shooting daily if they were. Over half of the American people could be diagnosed with some form of mental illness or another according to the DSM-IV. Who among us hasn’t suffered from depression in some form at one time or another?

If legislation were passed defining who may or may not exercise their constitutional rights based on the opinion of Congress and not individual doctors, where does it end? Frankly, it’s surprising that the left hasn’t taken this route yet for gun-control. Because of both the misunderstanding and stigma of mental illness, it would be far easier to sell to the American people than outright gun-control.

Make no mistake, the first victims of this legislation would be the men and women entrusted with the security of this nation: veterans. Posttraumatic stress disorder would be used as a bludgeon to disarm former military members who pose no threat to themselves or others simply because they fought a war they were asked by their country to fight.

Mental health, just like physical health is something very personal and private to most people. The Affordable Care Act is already dismantling the expectation of privacy people have with their physical health. Any new legislation regarding guns will do the same for mental health and not do anything to curb violence. It will further stigmatize and deter those who may need help from actually seeking it for mental healthfear they will end up in a government database.

John Hinckley Jr. (would-be Reagan assassin), Seung-Hui Cho (Virginia Polytechnic Institute), Jared Loughner (Tucson, Arizona), James Holmes (Aurora, Colorado), Adam Lanza (Newtown, Connecticut), and most recently Aaron Alexis (Washington Navy Yard) are all examples of mass murderers (with the exception of Hinckley) with histories of mental illness. The difference between these people and others with mental illness is that they had all displayed violent tendencies before carrying out violent actions.

This is a failure of those around them and those treating them to recognize the potential for violence and having these individuals institutionalized. It is also a failure of government; federal, state, and local. The reason these became mass shootings is because they all occurred in Gun Free Zones. The reason why we don’t have mass shootings other than in Gun Free Zones is because law-abiding citizens exercising their 2nd amendment rights have mitigated the casualties in other cases that you never hear about on the evening news.

A diagnosis of mental illness, in and of itself, does not give the government carte blanche for more gun control, and denying God given constitutional rights to someone who was depressed 20 years ago. If this sounds like hyperbole, you’re not paying attention.