Health & Wellness / Opinion / Politics

Reexamining America’s Mental Health, Not the Second Amendment

mental health

The Second Amendment is, predictably, under fire again.  In the wake of the Texas and Ohio tragedies, Democratic presidential candidates want to call Congress back off recess to conduct a “special session,” passing immediate, restrictive anti-gun legislation on the heels of weekend shootings by two mentally deranged assailants.  Deeper thinking may be required.    

The two tragedies are sobering, senseless and have brought America back to a time of grief.  They involved guns, but they cast a long shadow over the state of mental health and our national unity.  Needed right now is less emotion, more rational thinking, not another swipe at longstanding, constitutionally grounded Second Amendment rights.  The issue is more arresting, more serious.

Common sense flees the mind in times of high emotion.  Facts often help restore it.  Nationally, we are experiencing a society-wide mental health crisis.  It parallels other converging social crises – including the national drug crisis, intergenerational fractures, reduced religious affiliations, higher levels of professional and family stress, escalating combat veteran needs, and social, political and cultural conflicts.  None of these are made better by national leaders who misunderstand, misdiagnose, or seek to politically redirect public attention for other purposes. 

First, the national numbers associated with mental health ailments are staggering – and reveal a need for great human compassion, proven individual and public policy strategies, and a re-elevating of these issues in the public dialogue.  Twisting public discussion to serve other aims, political agendas, or to further stir public ire at a time of public grief is not just poor judgment and bad leadership, it is patently unhelpful.

A 2018 study by the National Council for Behavioral Health offered prescient insights:  “There is a mental health crisis in America … and more needs to be done to give Americans much needed access to mental health services.”  Specifically, “the demand for mental health services is stronger than ever, with six in ten Americans (56%) seeking … mental health services for either themselves or for a loved one.”  

Moreover, “these individuals are skewing younger and are more likely to be lower income and have a military background,” and today “the large majority of Americans (76%) also believe mental health is just as important as physical health.”  So, the problem is enormous, and we know it.  

The biggest thing?  We are in a solvable crisis, whether for lack of family cohesion, faith as foundation, social alienation, speed and nature of cultural disruption, acceleration of social change, reduced human interaction and amputated personal skills, displacement in the roll of history, or just economic, political or personal insecurity.   This is the radiating center of other problems; we have to address it.

Second, the violent, unnerving deaths this past weekend – tied to two individuals who, by all appearances operated with severe mental and/or emotional impairments – should be answered by thoughtful, non-partisan public policy solutions, a review of private and public records.  These events should be the springboard for a national discussion about how to restore individual, community and national mental health, emotional stability, and national unity – not to further incite public disunion.

Third, comparative numbers may seem inapt at a time of grief, but these numbers help place the two leading issues – mental health and a renewed discussion of gun rights – in perspective.  While the events are tragic, they must be understood in context to better prevent recurrence.   And deeper causes need to be understood.  

The tragedies affect us deeply because Americans value innocent human life, because we want to protect our country, our communities, and the future.  These deaths – and events like these – seem frightening and unforeseeable but are preventable.  Occurring in a public place, they appear random, which adds to fear, unease, and public discomfort.  That is why a more robust discussion of mental health is timely. 

But rational minds must take also stock of other facts – the reasons we have an individual, constitutionally guaranteed right to “keep and bear arms.”  The Second Amendment, placed in the Constitution to allow individuals to protect themselves, their homes, families, communities and our nation’s future against government and individual attacks, cannot be materially restricted without undermining other liberties.  

In fact, the Second Amendment protects liberties found in the First, Fourth, Sixth and virtually all other Amendments.  A mortal threat to public safety is presented by restricting the chief means for protecting public safety, one viewed as sacrosanct by our Founders.  The right to keep and bear arms remains sacred, constitutional and material to our country’s free future.   

Put differently, the right to “keep and bear arms” without excess restriction, intrusion or confiscation has long been understood as seminal to a nation’s freedom.  Even last century’s seminal “man of peace,” the advocate of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, warned the Indian people never to allow a government to take their guns.  Referring to the Arms Act of 1878, he said: “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”

More simply, unforeseen loss of life is common, and seldom produces a cry to eliminate the physical cause of lost life, but rather increased caution in human behavior.  Draconian restrictions on firearms will not solve the underlying mental health crisis, any more than banning cars is the right answer to end car crashes. Nationally, mental health problems lead to needless loss of life – more than any one object.

So, while the process of national, local and family grief rests heavy on all of us, there is also a genuine need for deeper and longer-term thinking.  We can tackle the mental health crisis and reduce these tragedies, while respecting constitutional prerogatives and honoring individual rights, including the right to self-protection, protection of others, and protection of other individual liberties.  We can help make our society healthier and safer, while keep faith with the Second Amendment. 

So, predictably, the Second Amendment is under fire in the wake of a shooting-related tragedy.  The bigger question is what mental state did the shooters bring to these scenes, how did they get to that mental state, and how can we work to prevent others from getting there?  

The problem is not with our rights, but with America’s fraying mental health and emotional well-being – especially in a time of growing disunion, disinterest in reestablishing social cohesion and reaffirming national union.  Perhaps it is time again to think again about being “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  For enduring peace, hard work, an honest assessment of history, and a conversation about where we are, is a good place to start.

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Cencerned
1 year ago

We have not mentioned that those people with problems are easily talked into committing these terrible acts and are used by people who want these types of crimes to occur for what ever their sick reasons are and the persuader goes unknown.

Carol G.
1 year ago

I love my President Trump, he’s the only one who can take all the crap the fake media and the Demoncrats dish out. Obama divided this country, I remember when he called me “the other side”. I’m sure he’s happy about all the bad that is happening now. You can’t reason with a drunk, a dope addict, or a Demoncrat. How can so many people be so ignorant and stupid.

Jack Thomas
1 year ago

It’s clearly a mental health issue when deranged individuals leave many victims in their path, as in El Paso and Dayton. The guns used are irrelevant; the mental instability of the shooters is necessarily a broader critical concern. This is also true in every mass shooting in recent U.S. history. But the Democrats and their Leftist media proxies didn’t want to have a conversation about mental health as the “trigger” for unexpected mass murder. No, they wanted to seize the opportunity to blame President Trump’s rhetoric as the cause —- while simultaneously screaming for more “gun control” laws. But wait! It’s stunning how the ‘Left’ contradicts itself. If Trump’s rhetoric was the cause, then why do we need more gun control?

The reality is that gun control laws never stopped a psychopath bent on killing the innocent just as they never stopped armed robbers. The Democrats are simply looking to further erode 2nd Amendment rights which is high on their agenda. The result would be imposing new restrictions on law-abiding gun owners, not criminals and terrorists who rarely buy guns legally. In addition, I have serious doubts that “Universal Background Checks” would have prevented El Paso or Dayton from happening, or will prevent further shootings in the near future. It’s a known fact that someone with mental health issues and criminal intentions can still pass a background check. The Virginia Tech student who shot 33 people bought his guns legally, but had also been advised by one of his professors to get psychological help. The late Steven Paddock who opened fire on a crowded Las Vegas concert venue had legally bought over 40 guns in Utah, Texas, and California — and smuggled nearly as many into his Mandalay Bay Hotel suite. Just these two mass shooting cases alone beg for stronger background checks. It’s imperative to find a legal but workable method to “Red Flag” dangerous individuals. The Hippo privacy laws need to be changed so that a person with a mental health record cannot slip under the radar when applying for a gun permit.

While it’s important to protect the 2nd Amendment, the argument that rapid-fire assault rifles should remain legal is absurd. There is no compelling logical reason why a private citizen should have access to an AK-47 or an M-16 unless he wants to play G.I. Joe in the woods behind his house. You don’t need a weapon like that to hunt or target shoot. Ordinary rifles, pistols, and shotguns work just fine. Likewise, the sale of rapid-fire ammunition components should be outlawed for civilian use across the board. Additionally, background checks for private gun shows should also be mandatory and universal in all 50 States. At present, they’re not. Which means that a mentally disturbed person could walk into a gun show and buy whatever he liked with no questions asked. That’s a prescription for a tragedy in progress.

Jack
1 year ago

Bring back the Death Penalty for murderers and robbers who use a firearm. I can not fathom why the Demoncrats think it is right to abort an unborn child and unethical to put a criminal to death when it is already known what his intentions are. I guess so they can pardon them to vote for them. And when you think it can’t get much crazier…..

Rexford O Ames
1 year ago

Please , Help me to understand. 99% percent of those that do things, of this nature are looking for hero worship, by illusion or are part of something much bigger? Ever since Ex-President Obama has been placed into office. Shootings have increased 1000%. Their is purpose with his agenda. Fact: This country has had shootings for many, many years, just not so controlled and dynamically infused by the ” 90% Owners of the Media. I suspect there are places within our Government one does not want anything to do with or even have knowledge of!
For what ever the reason. ( I suspect this is part of (Socialism / Communism/ Nazism) the world has seen many, many times and now it is here, in our home! Our Representatives , in all levels of Government, have invited the enemy or enemy’s both Illegally and Legally into our home. If they fought for illegals, it had to be a large agenda for a sure outcome. ( Voting come to mind) Ever wonder why the Democrat and Republicans have never allowed identification requirements for all Citizens who vote?)
Dangerous world out there and it seems here at home as well. Politics are controlled by Two Implemented Systems. Democrats and Republicans. Independents have never been accepted by either party. As for the ” Tea Party” that did embrace Independents was , by every since of the word, destroyed from within by Government / Politicians. Taxes anyone.
We the very people that are aware of much of what is happening can change all this crap. Start a City level, then County then State. Sounds corny but one thing at a time, keep it simple, Don’t loose sight after step one has been accomplished. Scrape Crooks. Political Judges outed. Judges of Law, not politics, are in dire need!
Get through the ” Gossip” and find out truth. Turn of the noise. Listen!
Good Day!
Oh, one more item. The United States Congress, Both the House and The Senate , who are controlled by Homesteaders have decreed that ” English” is not North Americas Language. Gee I wonder why? Hispaniola anyone?

Dudley Maddox- School Bus Driver
1 year ago

Sure, we don’t need military style weapons available to anyone on the street. We need better record keeping on behavior, mental attitudes, arrest records.(including military discharges) It could start with better communications between schools, authorities, health care professionals, not politicians. The computer is here. . .just use it better!
I’ve driven a school bus in three different periods during the last 16 years. In 2014, I had a route that involved picking up two 4th graders, both 10 years old, in a small bus. I was told to keep them separated as both were heavy viewers of video games. (directions from school). When I picked up the first 10 year old, I told him to sit in the back of the bus. The second was told to sit in the front seat, across from me. On the way to school the first student announced, “I KILLED 50,000 people last night”. . .”SO WHAT” replied the boy in the back. . .”I killed 75,000″ ! The first student was so irritated he raced to the back of the bus, jumped into the seat in front of the other. The next thing the driver saw was two legs and shoes pointed to the ceiling of the bus.
If you want to clean up mental attitudes, start at the beginning, at the source. Keeping guns out of the hands of the deranged is necessary, but eliminating violent video games is even a better goal!
After the killings in El Paso and Dayton, mothers marched on Washington, DC demanding government action. MOTHERS, FATHERS, WAKE UP ! Some of you need to get next to your children. . .Who are they?
A little bit of professional care early on can make a LIFETIME OF DIFFERENCE !

Alfonso Bedoya
1 year ago

Frank S hit the nail on the head. Why is it that gun and other violence seems to be so prevalent today, when it wasn’t such a problem fifty years ago when we had a much more spiritual nation? Doesn’t it seem strange that violence seems to go hand-in-hand with the upturn of a leftist culture that eschews religion of any form (Islam excepted)? Tucker Carlson on FOX recently narrated exactly what has happened to our culture, and it also seems to fit that colleges and universities now almost attack conservatives and conservative thought, while spreading leftist propaganda that pollutes young, vulnerable minds.

Kathy Thompson
1 year ago

The honest discussion on mental health and why so many people feel alienabled from society can begin when all people who espouse the democratic platform take a hard [and honest] look at what they’re saying and how it’s separating Americans. We need to get back to our core beliefs and values. We need to be able to TALK with each other. Notice I said talk with, not talk to, each other. There needs to be tolerance for one another’s points of view. Most people today are not even able to try to have a discussion. My friends always say, “NO politics.” How can we learn from each other, or even make educated judgments when people are afraid to speak with one another? And, by the way, President Trump is NOT to blame for these attacks. Those accusations are part of the problem and divide us even more.

Bert Whittle
1 year ago

Thank you, This was a very good read with very good comments about our society today that need help!

Willie Ryan
1 year ago

Take God out of the school and teach our kids about hate that is what is wrong with America.Put the Ten Commandments back in the public and start teaching our kids about love and helping others and America will turn.Guns don’t kill people kill.They kill baby’s ever day but the democrats say nothing.The only reason they want your guns is so they can control you.Wake up America or be destroyed.

Flip Arnold
1 year ago

This is one of the best articles of the times. Finally someone who recognizes that human intervention is necessary to kill someone with an inanimate object. Millions of people are responsible gun owners who enjoy the shooting sports legally and consciously practice self protection under the 2nd Amendment and yet have never had to fire a shot. The thought is “it is better to have a gun and never use it than not having it when you do need it”. I agree that our mental health system is sorely lacking and needs to be improved. But passing more gun laws is not the answer

michael failla
1 year ago

i for one, was appalled how fast and intense the media ramp up took. Not even a time to gather our thoughts much less our prayers. If ever an organization deserves scorn it is the media and the leftist politicians. You have to ask, “why do they want to confiscate the guns”. It is as obvious as the nose on you face. An unarmed compliant mass will and cannot fight back. The second amendment exists to protect all the rest from the assault of an over reaching government. Our founders knew this. While it is tragic that these things occur, we must look to the root causes. Could destruction of the family unit be a reason? 26 of 27 mass shooting incidents showed no father figure in that family. Certainly mental health ? Perhaps the constant barrage from the media? Ultimately, it is a human being who pulls the trigger. If i wanted you dead a baseball bat can be quite effective as will a shovel. It is the operator not the car which is at fault. One final thought. Have you ever wondered why the left works so hard at separating us all from GOD?

EDWARD S
1 year ago

Frank Is Spot On. What I Like To Add.”IF WE EVER FORGET THAT WE ARE ONE NATION UNDER GOD ,THEN WE WILL BE A NATION GONE UNDER.”
RONALD REAGAN

Reta
1 year ago

Another issue we need to address in the lack of communication between the various monitoring groups.

Jimm
1 year ago

So the party that approves of over 2400 abortions a day is going to lecture us about 15,500 gun deaths a year? Auto deaths at 33,000 a year too, why don’t we hear about that? The liberals whine about a 20 round magazine, what about a 200+ mph auto? I don’t hear them insist that a breathalyzer be included in every car but that technology exists unlike Joe Biden’s “Smart Guns” (which are obviously smarter than he). And for the next ignorant person who says that we don’t need a “military style” (as if appearance determines how lethal a firearm is) weapons, remind them that the 2nd Amendment says that the militia (those capable of defense of the nation but aren’t members of an organized military) is necessary to maintain the security of a free state and they are supposed to have “military grade” weapons to do so. .

Ron
1 year ago

Well how about knives they were in the news this week? Yes we need to outlaw knives. Why those knives staved & killed 2- & wounded several others! Why not go after them ? Let’s also look at cars they kill several a day should we not outlaw them? Last year or early this year a car ran into a crow of people & injured just about 15 people. Seoul’s we go after the make or model? Well we know that the person carrying the gun or knife or driving the car are not to blame it’s just those darn thing that we invented! We could also add to the list Drugs oh they are it’s not the people taking them or distributing them is it?

Drue
1 year ago

Erosion of 2 parent households, violent video games, violent movies, loss of faith-based education, closing mental institutions and liberal teachings in colleges. All of these have contributed to increased violence in our society. Not just gun violence but the upswing of radical leftest movements like Antifa. In 2017, more than 5,000 teens, ages 15-20 died in automobile accidents, more than 10 times the amount of people who died as a result of mass shootings. So do we ban cars? Or raise the age of drivers to 20? The car is not the problem. With respect to gun violence, the gun is not to blame. In Chicago and Baltimore, each averages more than one fatal shooting each day. That does not include people wounded. Both Maryland and Illinois have some of the most restrictive gun laws in the U.S. Why is that? Criminals do not go to a sporting goods store and submit to a background check to buy a gun. No, they obtain that gun on the street, illegally. That is why they are called CRIMINALS! New gun laws are not needed. We need to enforce the laws already on the books. And by the way, the last 2 shooters could pass a background check.

Mike B.
1 year ago

“Guns don’t kill, people kill”. If we banned all the guns on earth, those who want to kill, for whatever reason, will find a way to accomplish their goals. The issue is “Mental Health”. We need to find some way to have mental health records added to the instant background check system performed at the purchase location of any firearm. When a weapons retailer (F.F.L. dealer) calls to check on an applicant their mental health records have to be available to the system . No responsible gun owner wants a firearm of any type in the hands of someone who is mentally unstable. So passing laws that put restriction on law abiding citizens is a waste of time and infringing on the rights of those who obey the laws.

dino
1 year ago

The problems in AMERICA were accelerated by that last liberal anti AMERICAN fake president.Our country will be very fortunate if we don’t end up in a civil war.I really believe that this is what barry the NOT great had on his agenda.

Jeanette
1 year ago

Good article, but the problem IS the Mental Health Establishment. Drugging everyone with a vague diagnostic manual that could label almost anybody mentally impaired from little children to adults and seniors is insane in itself. The drugs they use create most of the symptoms we see in these incidents. I bet most of these shooters were taking heavy psychiatric drugs.

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