Wednesday, January 6, 2016

President Obama's Mental Health Gun Edict Set Back Decades of Work

UPDATE January 9, 2016
This is what I've been hearing since the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act was passed in 2007. Many veterans said it would keep them from seeking help. Not much has changed.

Many question who new gun laws will ban from having firearms
"They will attempt to hide, the people that really need the help may not seek out the help," says veteran and former law enforcement officer Tony Smith.

Tony served in law enforcement and the national guard, and worries how gun laws will treat him in his struggle with depression. "Used against me or used as a tool to create another law, yeah, I do," says Smith.

UPDATE
American Legion questions White House gun restrictions
The American Legion issued a statement Wednesday urging Obama to protect the right to gun ownership for “law-abiding veterans,” and said the organization fears an "over-fix" that would bar any veteran from owning a weapon.

“The American Legion strongly believes that treatment for PTSD or depression by itself, which a number of wartime veterans experience, should not be the sole factor in denying a veteran the right to purchase a firearm,” said American Legion National Commander Dale Barnett.
Original Post

In one swoop President Obama's edict on Gun rights has done more to enforce the stigma of PTSD. It is one thing to feel the need to do something and another to do the right thing.

Already too many veterans are worried about losing their rights, especially veterans employed by police departments across the country. According to the release by President Obama, it is not suppose to take guns away from anyone unless they are "receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent."

When the Joshua Omvig Suicide Prevention Act was being debated, it was on hold because of the gun rights issue.
Senator Coburn Opposed the Bill Because He Was Concerned that Data-Gathering Would Prevent Veterans from Purchasing Guns. Coburn expressed concern that a section of the bill saying the Veterans Affairs Department ‘shall provide for appropriate tracking of veterans’ would result in data-gathering that could prevent veterans from purchasing handguns. Coburn said his concern was that if the department shared health data with other federal agencies, such as the Justice Department, then veterans with mental illness could be barred from purchasing handguns. [CQ Today, 8/23/07]

Senator Coburn Also Opposed the Bill Because it Would Require Patients to Be Screened for Suicide Risk Factors Before Receiving Medical Treatment. Coburn said he was also concerned that a provision in the bill would require patients seeking VA medical care to also be screened for suicide risk factors. [CQ Today, 8/23/07]

It was passed and signed by President Bush in 2007. Then veterans were even more afraid to seek help from the VA. The simple fact this bill did not reduce the stigma nor has it reduced suicides, it has reduced the number of veterans needing help actually seeking it.

FACT SHEET: New Executive Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer
3. Increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.

The Administration is proposing a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care.

The Social Security Administration has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to include information in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm for mental health reasons.

The Department of Health and Human Services is finalizing a rule to remove unnecessary legal barriers preventing States from reporting relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons.


Include information from the Social Security Administration in the background check system about beneficiaries who are prohibited from possessing a firearm. Current law prohibits individuals from buying a gun if, because of a mental health issue, they are either a danger to themselves or others or are unable to manage their own affairs. The Social Security Administration (SSA) has indicated that it will begin the rulemaking process to ensure that appropriate information in its records is reported to NICS. The reporting that SSA, in consultation with the Department of Justice, is expected to require will cover appropriate records of the approximately 75,000 people each year who have a documented mental health issue, receive disability benefits, and are unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment, or who have been found by a state or federal court to be legally incompetent. The rulemaking will also provide a mechanism for people to seek relief from the federal prohibition on possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.

That "and are unable to manage those benefits" part ends up being the biggest part of the problem. This is a repeat of what already didn't work.  So why do it?


There is a need to do something in this country so that if people want to own guns, they are responsible for them. At the same time, people who do not want to own guns should not be caused to feel they have no choice because they can't even go to a movie without being afraid.

Have we forgotten how to do anything smart? Why haven't we been able to figure this mess out decades ago? We managed to land on the moon, cure a bunch of illnesses and transplant body parts but we can't figure out how to do this?