Yesterday, Wayne LaPierre, executive VP of the NRA, deftly pointed out that while the left calls for more and more gun legislation, they are failing to enforce the gun legislation that our country has right now. Among popular gun legislation is “common sense” legislation to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
But we have to ask LaPierre and the country at large: what counts as mentally ill? Where do we draw the line between a citizen with gun rights, and an at-risk individual.
According to doctors, mental illness spans everything from severe schizophrenia to mild attention deficit disorder. The mentally ill may hallucinate sights or sounds that aren’t there, yet be mentally competent enough to have a mortgage, a marriage and a family because they know that what they sense isn’t real. The mentally ill may be depressed enough to feel that life isn’t worth living, or so overexcited and happy that they begin to damage their body with the excess of hormones. The mentally ill may only have trouble reading or writing, but are not at risk of shooting up a school.
What’s more haunting is the fact that suicide shooters suffer from mental illnesses that hundreds of thousands or millions of people suffer from. Shooters are not a special type of crazy people; they’re people like you and I who were suffering far too much for far too long. Adam Lanza, the person behind the Newton shooting, received diagnoses of autism spectrum disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders and anxiety disorders. The person behind the Roseburg Oregon shootings suffered from unnamed mental disorders, including autism spectrum disorders. The Virginia Tech Shooter suffered from unspecified mental health problems.
You know who also suffered from these same exact mental illnesses? Mozart, autism spectrum disorder or bipolar spectrum disorder. Tim Burton, aspergers. Jack Keourac, schitzophrenia. Demi Lovato, bipolar disorder. Carrie Fisher, bipolar disorder. Mental illness is not a barometer for who is going to go postal anymore than writing on a bathroom stall is.
Our current legislation mandates that anyone who checks into a mental health facility is someone who shouldn’t be able to own a gun. But what about the millions of young adults who are checked into mental health facilities, get treatment, come out, and lead otherwise healthy lives? And what about the millions of adults who are too poor for mental health facilities and struggle through their lives when they lack the care they so desperately need?
There are mentally ill people everywhere around you. The great majority of them lead healthy lives, and don’t deserve to have their rights stripped from them. The mentally healthy population has a picture of the mentally ill as future-criminals and future-madmen, and this is a picture that actively damages the lives of the mentally ill.
What I want you, the reader, and LaPierre to take home is that mentally ill people are not one homogeneous, dangerous group. They are people who have a disorder located in their brain, and are people just like you who are just trying to do what’s right. LaPierre, don’t condemn an entire, huge segment of the american population because the american people thinks it’s the right thing to do.