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Sunday, March 24, 2013

National Rifle Association and Mental Health Funding

It's hard to believe Wayne Lapierre, leader of the National Rifle Association (NRA), is asking Congress to fund mental health programs, rather than pass universal background checks for gun purchases.  But, maybe Lapierre is on to something.  Is it possible for Congress to dedicate all revenue received through gun registration to support mental health programs?

Indeed, Lapierre was feisty on Sunday's Meet the Press (March 24) when he stood firmly in support of the National Rifle Association and in opposition to New York City Mayor Bloomberg about gun regulations going through Congress to prevent more public massacres of innocent people.

Although Lapierre wasted a lot of host David Gregory's air time
circumventing the questions he was asked, he referred at least three times to mentally ill people as a population that should be subjected to background checks before gun purchases.  Here are three quotes from today's transcript:

"We're working on a bill right now that will hopefully at least get the records of those adjudicated medically incompetent and dangerous into the check system that applies on dealers. Most of the states still do not even do that. We need to see if we can get that done. We're looking to get better enforcement of the federal gun laws," said Lapierre, who went on to say....

" And we're right that the mental health system needs to be fixed. The civil commitment laws are in a mess. Every police officer knows that.... We can't even-- as I said before, I've been working for 20 years to get those adjudicated mentally incompetent and dangerous into the national instant check system; we're still trying to get that done," he added, and then, again....

"I hope we end up signing something (legislation) that updates the system and gets those mentally incompetent and adjudicated into the system," he said
Okay Lapierre, it's high time the National Rifle Association either puts up or shuts up.  While the NRA pushes back on all sensible efforts to prevent the growing and dangerous trauma of gun violence in America, the very least you and your membership can do is to call for more funding for mental health programs, clinics, counseling and treatment.  In fact, how terrific would it be if the NRA used its influence to obtain more money for mental health services. Why not also put up funds from your own resources, as a match for state, federal and private grants, to provide quality mental health services to more people?

Clearly, Lapierre uses the mentally ill as a scapegoat group for the gun violence in America, rather than admit that zero deaths would occur if no guns were available.

Since the NRA lives in total denial about the obvious correlation between guns and deaths due to gun violence, the very least the organization could do is to provide support and money for more quality care for the "mentally incompetent", who are scapegoated as the cause of thousands of preventable deaths a year.

It makes sense for Congress to pass a universal background check law and to use the revenue received through the regulation, presumably a fee paid by gun owners, to fund mental health programs. 

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