Saturday, January 19, 2013



The more we (the nation) have this "conversation," (Lord do I despise that term to describe the back and forth taking place) on gun control the more uncomfortable I am about the impact this will have on those who have or need mental health services. Anti-gun proponents suggest guns are the problem. Pro-gun proponents suggest mental health is the problem. Anti-gun activists are more than willing to add mental health to the effective and smart government regulation and services they propose to create their paradise here on Earth.

Let's prevent the mentally ill from owning guns sounds like such a common-sense proposal. What is mentally ill? Is it someone who has ever been prescribed an anti-depressant? What if that person was a minor when on the anti-depressant? How long does he have to be off the anti-depressant before the scarlet G is removed? What other Constitutional rights should be denied to the person who received anti-depressants? Will every person be required to have a mental examination before purchasing a gun? Who will administer this exam? What will be the appeal process? Will the patient's HIPPA rights be violated? What other rights will be impacted by the result of this exam? If people know being diagnosed with a mental health disorder will lead to restriction in their freedom, will they be more reluctant to seek mental health services?

I live in a community that has experienced a significant increase in spending for special education over the past decade. Some of the kids have physical issues, some mental, some both. The law of the land requires school districts to provide a comparable education to these kids as the kids in the mainstream population. Believe it or not, since we have a state that mandates it is the state's responsibility to educate our kids, I agree kids with special needs should be helped.

But my friends and neighbors are not as charitable. They complain parents move to our district just to participate in our special ed program. All these leaches want is private education for their children at the expense of the community my neighbors complain. These same parents have no issue with large budgets for sports programs, or art programs, somehow those "normal" kids are more deserving of our budget. But the kid with a learning disability, or emotional issue is a parasite, in their view. My friends and neighbors say we need to cut the special ed budget, we need to be tough on these kids. (Tough on these kids?!) These kids have become the scapegoat for a school budget that is overwhelmingly driven by personnel costs.

I see how people react to those who are scapegoated. It's not pretty. Yes Newtown was a tragedy. Yes guns are an issue. Yes mental health is an issue. Can we please tread carefully and not do "something" just to do something. The lives of many will be impacted by ineffective laws, and many of those people impacted will be the weak and in-need people we as a society should be helping, not vilifying.


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