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Thread: To Reduce Gun Violence, Congress Must Address Mental Health

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    To Reduce Gun Violence, Congress Must Address Mental Health

    To Reduce Gun Violence, Congress Must Address Mental Health

    While the gun debate rages, why not do this?

    In Washington, nobody takes responsibility for the cost of bad policies and nobody is the least bit interested in drilling down to address the root causes of our nation’s gun violence crisis. Americans are all too familiar and fed up with politicians who revert to extremist positions as solutions that have no chance of generating broad support. And so, the number of families suffering multiplies and nothing gets done. We can and we must do better.

    It may come as a surprise to people who followed my public life in Congress for eight years, but in the 1980s and early 1990s I was a provider of mental health care, operating a 50-bed facility in Canton, Ohio. It was always full of patients who were in need of mental health care. We did some great work that made a difference in the lives of thousands of families and our reputation was such that there was always a waiting list for admissions.

    And then the federal and state policymakers got involved, cutting the funding for mental health through the Medicare and Medicaid programs, and we were forced to shut down. (The facility was converted for elder care – which was needed.) We discharged those residents only because government bureaucrats decided patients in need of mental health care were not covered. Where did they end up? Who cared for them? We know the answer to the second question: no one.

    It was a horrible mistake for Washington to cut support for so many Americans. Like many of us, every time someone commits a mass murder I search to understand how anyone could do so. Because there is something fundamentally wrong with anyone willing to commit such a heinous crime, the conversation often drifts toward the subject of mental health.

    Guns do not belong in the hands of the mentally ill. Each is a threat to themselves and society. Two-thirds of gun deaths are suicides and nobody who is in need of care should have a rifle, a shotgun, or a pistol. We have to do more to identify and care for the nearly one in five adults struggling with mental health. We have to do more to destigmatize care. And we have to keep the focus on the individual.

    Being a strong, steadfast supporter of the Second Amendment is not and should not be in conflict with addressing mental health and access to guns. Responsible gun owners such as me would never put a firearm in the hands of someone suffering from mental illness or showing well-known warning signs of potential violence. Health care professionals have a role to play. Families, friends and co-workers need to listen to their gut instincts when something feels suddenly wrong. And tech companies like Facebook, Google and Gab must face intensified scrutiny over their failures to identify and report “red flag” content to authorities.

    I believe a renewed focus on searching for warning signs and improving access to mental health services and treatment is long overdue. To my great frustration, bills that I supported in Congress to make it easier for those with mental illnesses to seek help -- by amending Medicaid to allow for the coverage of mental health services and expand mental health training -- found no support in the Senate.

    When Congress returns from its August recess, the Democrats and Republicans in power must move beyond the tired talking points of special interests on both sides and focus on real, sustainable solutions. Inaction is not an option. Banning certain types of guns is not an option. But improving mental health care and forcing tech companies to alert the public of potential danger are options.

    This is a time for pragmatism. Americans can get things done, together, that make our homes, our schools and our cities safer. The root of our problem is in the individuals who are responsible for their actions and the solution is improving access to professional care and medication.

    I believe that one day Congress will wake up and start to work again for the people. Democrats and Republicans surely understand mental illness knows no age, race, gender or political affiliation. This summer, it’s on all of us, the people, to force Congress to make progress in protecting the public. And it starts with Congress doing everything in its power to help those who need care or seek care to be treated effectively, efficiently, and with the dignity and respect they deserve.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    Must...have...caffeine One Bad Pig's Avatar
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    Yes, we should do more for treating mental illness - insane asylums were shut down due to 'inhumane' conditions, but that just put the inmates on the streets.

    On the other hand, it's sort of treating the symptom, exacerbated by the breakdown of the traditional family.
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  3. Amen Cow Poke, Teallaura amen'd this post.
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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by One Bad Pig View Post
    Yes, we should do more for treating mental illness - insane asylums were shut down due to 'inhumane' conditions, but that just put the inmates on the streets.

    On the other hand, it's sort of treating the symptom, exacerbated by the breakdown of the traditional family.
    With the scare I just had with my own daughter - she's doing MUCH MUCH better now - I was wondering how she could possibly function in society. Extreme paranoia, hearing voices, up all night pacing and mumbling and checking for intruders with guns who were going to murder my family.... nobody could even get any sleep. I'm glad there was a hospital that would accept her, work with her, help balance her meds....

    The first hospital seemed to have the attitude "we'll just keep you detained so you don't hurt somebody or yourself", but the hospital from which she just came home was more like "let's figure out what's wrong so you don't have to be here".
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cow Poke View Post
    With the scare I just had with my own daughter - she's doing MUCH MUCH better now - I was wondering how she could possibly function in society. Extreme paranoia, hearing voices, up all night pacing and mumbling and checking for intruders with guns who were going to murder my family.... nobody could even get any sleep. I'm glad there was a hospital that would accept her, work with her, help balance her meds....

    The first hospital seemed to have the attitude "we'll just keep you detained so you don't hurt somebody or yourself", but the hospital from which she just came home was more like "let's figure out what's wrong so you don't have to be here".
    What a concept. A hospital dedicated to trying to heal patients.

    I'm always still in trouble again

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  6. Amen Teallaura amen'd this post.
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    Troll Magnet Sparko's Avatar
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    The problem is, though, who gets to determine which people are too mentally ill to own a gun? Do they take the gun just because someone is on anti-depressants? Claiming depression causes suicides? What about bipolar? And how long? People's mental states change over time and with treatment. And perfectly normal people can snap or become mentally ill and never even see a doctor. How do you catch them?

    And isn't taking guns away from someone because they MIGHT do something kinda like that movie "Minority Report" where people got arrested based on what some psychics predicted they were going to do?

    I am just worried the anti-gun people will abuse this. "Oh, he voted for Trump! Obviously a white supremacist nutjob who can't be trusted with a gun!"

  8. Amen seanD amen'd this post.
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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rogue06 View Post
    What a concept. A hospital dedicated to trying to heal patients.
    Unlike a welfare system dedicated to perpetuating welfare.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    See, the Thing is... Cow Poke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    The problem is, though, who gets to determine which people are too mentally ill to own a gun? Do they take the gun just because someone is on anti-depressants? Claiming depression causes suicides? What about bipolar? And how long? People's mental states change over time and with treatment. And perfectly normal people can snap or become mentally ill and never even see a doctor. How do you catch them?

    And isn't taking guns away from someone because they MIGHT do something kinda like that movie "Minority Report" where people got arrested based on what some psychics predicted they were going to do?

    I am just worried the anti-gun people will abuse this. "Oh, he voted for Trump! Obviously a white supremacist nutjob who can't be trusted with a gun!"
    Those are issues worth considering, but in my opinion, not worth inaction.
    Every problem is the result of a previous solution.

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    tWebber Teallaura's Avatar
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    We're going to have to deal with the nonsense that you have the 'right' to be so dysfunctional that you end up on the street. We also need fail safes that keep any one doctor from having power over a person for years on end - because that will attract abuse. At the same time, we don't want to rotate doctors constantly making consistent care impossible. Guardians need oversight - and I don't just mean the family ones. We need courts that specialize in this work rather than making family and criminal courts try to figure it out.

    And we need to rebuild facilities - but that may be the silver lining to the stupid push to close them all. It gives us a chance to redesign hospitals to the benefit of patients - prison like facilities do nothing to help people transition back into society. Doctors, therapists, orderlies and architects giving their input BEFORE we start throwing concrete around.

    There's a lot of work to be done - I think we as the church should be rolling up some sleeves!

  12. Amen Cow Poke amen'd this post.
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    Evolution is God's ID rogue06's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    The problem is, though, who gets to determine which people are too mentally ill to own a gun? Do they take the gun just because someone is on anti-depressants? Claiming depression causes suicides? What about bipolar? And how long? People's mental states change over time and with treatment. And perfectly normal people can snap or become mentally ill and never even see a doctor. How do you catch them?

    And isn't taking guns away from someone because they MIGHT do something kinda like that movie "Minority Report" where people got arrested based on what some psychics predicted they were going to do?

    I am just worried the anti-gun people will abuse this. "Oh, he voted for Trump! Obviously a white supremacist nutjob who can't be trusted with a gun!"
    For the sarcastically impaired the following is said in jest

    If they own a MAGA hat they're patently a risk to the public at large and need to have any firearms they own confiscated.


    I'm always still in trouble again

    "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" -- starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)

  14. Amen Cow Poke amen'd this post.
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    tWebber
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparko View Post
    The problem is, though, who gets to determine which people are too mentally ill to own a gun? Do they take the gun just because someone is on anti-depressants? Claiming depression causes suicides? What about bipolar? And how long? People's mental states change over time and with treatment. And perfectly normal people can snap or become mentally ill and never even see a doctor. How do you catch them?

    And isn't taking guns away from someone because they MIGHT do something kinda like that movie "Minority Report" where people got arrested based on what some psychics predicted they were going to do?

    I am just worried the anti-gun people will abuse this. "Oh, he voted for Trump! Obviously a white supremacist nutjob who can't be trusted with a gun!"
    Same issue with "Red Flag" gun laws. There's black and white reasons a person shouldn't have access to a gun that we all agree (though government can't be trusted to be "reasonable" even here), and then there's that gray area we all don't agree and would interpret in many different ways.
    "I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole, it was like... we had entire training courses. It reminds you of the glory of the American experiment." - Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State (source).

  16. Amen Cow Poke amen'd this post.

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