Gun Violence: More than the Mentally Ill

Last week two local columnists in two local newspapers, the Finger Lakes Times and the Dundee Observer, discussed our “Gun Control” problem. They both pointed to Mental Health reform as a remedy to our county’s gun violence.

The Finger Lakes Times “In Focus” column, by Josh Durso from Seneca Falls, was titled “The need to be engaged” and offers sound reasons to not only vote, but to expand your Stop-gun-violenceinfluence by attending public meetings (including Town Hall Meetings), write to newspapers and representatives, seek out solutions, and “most-definitely go beyond simply complaining.” Durso,  then went on to suggest that “we should spend money on making  (mentally ill) people  better, instead of enabling bad habits.”

The Dundee Observer’s column, “Rural Living” column, by Schuyler County’s Larry Wilson, was titled, “The mentally ill should be denied access to firearms.” He suggests tough laws that keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. His suggestions includes “scrutinizing children for potential mental illness”  and that “judges must look at applications more closely and reject those that raise any questions of mental instability.”

Wilson ends his column with:

I thoroughly support everyone’s right to hunt and to carry a handgun for self defense. I do not support the right of mentally ill people to wander through our communities carrying guns.

The big question is how do we define “Mentally Ill People”?

We already have a federal law that prohibits people from purchasing or possessing firearms if they  have been “committed to a mental institution”, or, “adjudicated as a mental defective” (which means they 1) are a danger to themselves or others, or, 2) lack the mental capacity to manage his own affairs, or 3) are found insane by a court in a criminal case, incompetent to stand trial, or not guilty by a reason of insanity). For more information about the background check process and links to more details about the 1968 law mention above follow this link.

,A large majority of people with mental disorders will never engage in violence against.

Mr. Durso’s and Mr. Wilson’s articles do not offer any suggestions to curb the gun violence that occurs daily in many American cities. Close to home examples includes on  October 6  Rochester had  three people shot in  three different shootings in a 12 hour period.  One was a 13 year-old girl.  In August  three young men were killed in a drive-by shooting outside of the Rochester’s Buys and Girls Club after a dance. Those events affected the families, neighborhoods and the city.

In 2014  32,383 people were killed by guns in our country, another 33,636 were injured.   We need to focus on more than the mentally ill; we need to include poverty, drugs/alcohol abuse, domestic violence, gangs, robberies, and racism (are there more?) as contributors to the gun violence in our society and act accordingly.

We will never completely end gun violence, but we can  find ways to reduce it.

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About pystew

Retired Teacher, political science geek, village trustee. I lean a little left, but like a good political discussion. My blog, the New NY 23rd (http://newny23rd) is about discussing the issues facing the people of our new congressional district. Let's hear all sides of the issues, not just what the candidates want us to hear.
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7 Responses to Gun Violence: More than the Mentally Ill

  1. catkestler says:

    Great article! Unfortunately, with the representative we have in Congress doesn’t offer any help or ideas, in fact, he is making it more difficult to seek out treatment for mental illness. We must start by electing a representative that listens to what the constituents are saying, not just what his big donors want.

  2. Deb Meeker says:

    * “Among Americans, we overall voted our own nation as the 4th most dangerous to peace, and with demographics of students and 18-24 year-olds also concluding the US as the world’s greatest threat.”

    America has always been a nation of gun owners. Kids of my era ( 1950s) grew up with “six guns” in cowboy holsters ready to kill all those “bad Injuns”. Cap guns and BeBe guns were found under Christmas trees as toys most wanted by boys. Dads and sons followed the seasonal hunting rituals whether for food or sport. Gangland machine gun fire was glorified in movies back then, and today, it appears to me, at least – 75% of Prime time television programming promotes murder and mayhem, Good Guys with Guns after Bad Guys with Guns.
    Americans love their violence.
    Americans have also been quick to keyhole any vulnerable group as a reason for their fears or discontent. The disturbing trend now is that politicians- especially those bought by gun lobbies -point their fingers at a population labeled “the mentally ill” as the main reason for this country’s gun violence. One might agree that those who commit mass murder can’t be quite right in their minds, but what about all the factors in this society that glorify power, war, and guns?
    It’s a cop out to suggest this one group of Americans should be blamed for the uptick in mass violence; this insult is compounded as many who suffer from mental illness they cannot control, are denied funding to get appropriate help.

    Opinion:
    A federal gun policy and national gun laws should be in place. All states should be complying with the same regulations evenly. Strict background checks ( not just expecting the applicant to swear in a checked box, they are “sane”), registration of all sales of firearms, and the end of private gun show sales loopholes, could make a start. I am for state and federal gun registries, not for public viewing, but for crime tracking and law enforcement purposes.
    Let those with a heritage of guns being passed from generation to generation understand – we’re no longer in the Cowboys and Indians era – we’re in the do or die era – where far too many have already died due to false pride, self interest only ignorance and greed.

    *http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/03/2014-gallup-international-poll-us-1-threat-world-peace.html

  3. josephurban says:

    On 9/11/2001 almost 3,000 Americans were killed by a terrorist attack. Congress went nuts and created all kinds of laws regarding air safety, personal communications and we even used this as an excuse to invade Iraq. Almost 3,000 Americans were killed and it was seen, rightly, a national catastrophe.
    On 9/11/2012, 4 Americans were killed in Benghazi by terrorists. Congress has gone bananas and investigated this over 8 times. This was seen as another national outrage.
    Since 9/11/2001 over 400,000 American have dies as a result of guns in the USA. Over 400,000 Americans. More than 400,000 Americans dead. Every one by the use of a gun. In the USA. Try to get your head around that figure. Compare it to Benghazi. Compare it to 9/11.
    Then compare the response of Congress.

  4. whungerford says:

    Efforts to help the mentally ill, however laudable, are no substitute for positive, effective measures to reduce death and injury from firearms.

    • catkestler says:

      The diagnosis comes first, then the treatment. Also we need a national registered database on healthcare, for example, if you reside in NY and travel to California for vacation and get into an accident, are unconscious, the ER can look up your records to see what meds you’re on to avoid any contraindications. This makes treatment easier, plus you would know any diagnosis’ to watch out for.

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