Opinion: Guns are killing us, not mental illness - PressFrom - US
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OpinionGuns are killing us, not mental illness

18:05  20 august  2019
18:05  20 august  2019 Source:   thehill.com

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with serious mental illness represent 1 percent of all gun homicides each year, according to the book “ Gun Violence and Mental Illness ” published by that less than 5 percent of gun -related killings in the United States between 2001 and 2010 were committed by people diagnosed with mental illness .

“How do we make sure that individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun ?” the Republican governor said at a news conference, taking Just hours after 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at their high school in Parkland, Fla., students turned to social media to advocate for more gun control.

Guns are killing us, not mental illness© Getty Images Guns are killing us, not mental illness

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

When I served in the U.S. House of Representatives, I wrote the Americans with Disabilities Act. Today, I am concerned about efforts to blame mental illness and people with disabilities as a cause for the mass shootings that plague our country.

Leading the erroneous charge is President Trump, who says "mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger" in mass shootings, refers to perpetrators as "mentally ill monsters," and suggests a solution of "involuntary confinement" for some with mental illness.

Trump zeros in on mental health, supports background checks to fight gun violence

Trump zeros in on mental health, supports background checks to fight gun violence “These people are mentally ill,” Trump said of mass shooters, “and nobody talks about that.” Mental illness is a frequent talking point among Republican lawmakers when dealing with gun violence, to the consternation of their Democratic counterparts, who argue that the United States’ unique, widespread access to guns is to blame. Critics of the idea that mental illness leads to gun violence also argue that it stigmatizes mental illness and reinforces the unproven idea that mental health correlates with violence.

Those who oppose expanded gun -control legislation frequently argue that instead of limiting access to guns , the country should focus on mental health problems. “People with mental illness are getting guns and committing these mass shootings,” said Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House

Guns and Mental Illness . By Joe Nocera. We know that his mother, alarmed by some of his misogynistic YouTube videos, made a call that resulted in the police visiting Rodger. Once again, a mass killing has triggered calls for doing something to keep guns away from the mentally ill.

But, sadly, this conflation is not limited to President Trump or Republicans. Last week, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, called for "a mental health data base to prevent the dangerously mentally ill from purchasing a firearm."

It is time to stop repeating this false narrative. Whether based on ignorance, discrimination or hate, the belief that ending gun violence can occur by targeting people with mental illness is wrong and a counterproductive red herring.

The research is clear: Mental illness is not a predictor of violence.

According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics and other sources, people with mental illness account for a minuscule fraction of violence - less than 5 percent.

People who experience mental illness are extraordinarily unlikely to engage in violent acts towards others; in fact, a Bazelon Center review reports more than 25 percent will be the victims of violence. Further, it's well documented by the FBI and others that gender (male), age (under 24) and a history of domestic violence are far better predictors of future violence.

Trump appears to back away from stronger gun sale background checks

Trump appears to back away from stronger gun sale background checks After promising "meaningful" new background checks following recent mass shootings, President Donald Trump appears to be walking that back.

In the past, mental illness has been scapegoated to deflect public outrage about access to assault rifles that can kill many people in a matter of minutes. In this debate, many questions arise that those discussing mental illness and gun violence may not even think about: What do we mean by mental

Unfortunately, many states categorize this description as mental illness , not violent behavior. Here in New Jersey we have significant gun control legislation and a lower rate of death by gun . While these killers may not be mentally ill, they are not mentally healthy, are they? How do we label their actions?

Falsely equating white supremacy, hatred and gun violence with mental illness is harmful and wrong. Hatred is not a mental illness. Hatred is a learned behavior. Characterizing it as a mental illness may be politically convenient for some, but it will not stop mass shootings. It serves only to marginalize and fuel bias towards disabled people.

As someone who has lived with epilepsy my entire adult life, I know stigma when I see it - and it has dangerous consequences. There is no more harmful stereotype for people with psychiatric disabilities than the assumption that they are dangerous. Our country has a long, sordid history of locking people with mental and physical disabilities in institutions in the name of preventing them from doing harm to themselves or others.

By spreading the lie that mental illness leads to mass murder, we oppress people. We make employers afraid to hire people with a mental illness, landlords afraid to rent to them, schools afraid to educate them. Fearing consequences, millions of Americans will hide their disability. Some may even conclude that the risk of seeking treatment outweighs the benefit of the care itself.

Trump Is Already Backing Away From Doing Anything About Guns

Trump Is Already Backing Away From Doing Anything About Guns After a brief window during which he seemed interested in doing something serious to curb mass shootings, he has retreated to NRA talking points.

Only a handful of states prohibit broader categories of people with mental illness from obtaining a gun . If they have been ordered to outpatient treatment. Mental health records are overwhelmingly under-reported to the federal and state databases scanned during a background check.

Guns and Mental Illness . Joe Nocera DEC. The editorial writers at The Wall Street Journalrecently wrote that changing the way we treat the mentally ill “strikes us as a more promising path” for reducing mass killings than a The state and federal rules around mental illness are built upon a delusion

Ending or reducing gun violence in the United States will only occur by measures such as eliminating access to assault weapons. Every country in the world has citizens with long-term mental illness. Yet, no other country experiences the same number of mass shootings. The unsubstantiated scapegoating of mental illness by people in power relieves pressure to address the simple fact that we continue to allow easy access to a wide array of firearms. It's the guns.

Meanwhile, leaders like President Trump perpetuate this further, suggesting we "start building institutions again." Disabled people have fought for decades for our right to live in our communities and make our own decisions about our housing and health care. Not only is institutionalizing people with mental illness and keeping track of them on a public registry incredibly dehumanizing, it is expensive and it does not address the real problem. It's the guns.

The emphasis on mental health is merely a deflection from the need to talk about guns. Sensible, effective gun control laws that do not discriminate against or scapegoat those of us in the disability community are what is needed to address gun violence and prevent mass shootings.

After Trump blames mental illness for mass shootings, health agencies ordered to hold all posts on issue

After Trump blames mental illness for mass shootings, health agencies ordered to hold all posts on issue ‘There is this climate of concern whether you can make a statement based on facts,’ said an employee at the National Institutes of Health.

And since we have had many episodes lately -- not just the Tucson killings but the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre in which 32 people were killed , and other tragedies like the 1999 Columbine killings -- where mental illness and guns were involved, it is important to focus on how our society is handling

mental problems -- including schizophrenia and severe depression -- are no more likely to use a gun to kill others She added that “ we have good studies showing that news media [reports about] mental illness really mental illness – n. a specific condition that prevents your mind from working normally

Republicans and Democrats alike must stop promoting this false narrative. It oppresses disabled people and does nothing to deal with the root of the problem. Wholesale discrimination against any group of people from our nation is not only a problem for the victims; it's a scourge on our democracy that impacts us all.

Since we can't rely on President Trump to lead us through this change - we know he's disrespected and mocked the disability community, beginning with his campaign - then we all must stop associating mental illness with mass shootings. Not only is the stigma factually and morally incorrect, it distracts from what we know - it's the guns.

Tony Coelho was a Democratic congressman from California from 1979 to 1989, a former House Majority whip, and the primary author and sponsor of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). He is also the chairman of the Partnership to Improve Patient Care, which promotes a patient-centered health care system.

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