In the last few weeks I have submitted and had published in newspapers around the country variations of what I’ve written below (usually a shortened version, depending on publishing requirements):
Without exception, after yet more horrific massacres committed by the mentally unstable we hear that family members and others witnessed the mentally ill person making overt threats of violence. Yet reports to authorities resulted in no actions to stop the mentally ill person. If the mass murderer used a gun, then the anti-Second Amendment folks demand to stop the manufacture and sale of guns. First, due to HIPAA laws, mental health records cannot be accessed by gun sellers, so background checks won’t reveal that the person buying a gun has severe mental illness. Second, here in the U.S. and in gun-restricted countries the severely mentally ill have used cars, knives, or their bare hands to kill people. Nobody screams about taking away cars, knives, or cutting off everyone’s hands after a mentally disturbed person murders people.
The problem isn’t guns, cars, knives, or bare hands. The problem is that from the 1970s-1990s state-by-state our legislators fell for the lies of the ACLU and other left-leaning activists who pretended to be mental health experts and insisted that the mentally ill be given the “right” and “freedom” to be released from mental health facilities. Mental health commitment laws were obliterated based on these lies. Legislators believed the lie that it would be economically beneficial to shut down mental health facilities. The severely mentally ill were quite literally shoved out onto the streets. We’re all paying the costs.
I speak from personal experience. I have severely mentally ill family members who have victimized me and others. One of them has guns and has made threats of violence against me and others. But no mental health laws exist to involuntarily commit these family members into permanent mental health treatment and monitoring despite their terminal and worsening mental health condition. Psychiatrists and psychologists I’ve spoken to also express their frustration. Their hands are tied because our current insane laws prevent any meaningful treatment for the severely mentally ill. I’ve written about my experience in my book, Fighting for Justice: Religious Fraud, Mental Illness, and the Collapse of Law & Order.
Our legislators need to follow the science on severe mental health issues, establish medically ethical privately-run, state-monitored mental health facilities (like nursing homes and hospitals), and enact sane involuntary long-term and permanent mental health commitment laws. Until our legislators come to their senses, this bloodshed will continue.