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Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mental Health programs should be funded by a tax on guns and ammunition

Let's face it, America has lost the war against guns (as well as drugs).

It's impossible to turn the tide on the zealous Second Amendment gun hoarding. Under the protection of this Constitutional Amendment, right wing nuts guard against enemy "windmills" they've created without cause. Nevertheless, it's time for those responsible for this over reach of Second Amendment rights to be held accountable for the damages and thousands of murders resulting from their zealotry.

Rather than face the source of the problem of gun violence, ie "guns", the Christian Science Monitor reports on how the US Congress prefers to address the problem of untreated mental illness, instead.

"Why Congress targets mental health, not gun control, after mass killings": The University of California Santa Barbara killings revived calls for more aggressive federal action on gun control. But in Congress, the emphasis is on mental-health fixes to stem violent attacks. Here's what the House is considering so far.

By Francine Kiefer, Staff writer / May 30, 2014


As mass killings such as the one in California (by Elliot Rodger) over the Memorial Day weekend mount up, the way to action in Congress is more likely to be through mental-health legislation than gun control.

The reason is simple, says Julian Zelizer, congressional historian at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. “Mental health legislation is not blocked by a gun rights lobby.”

In the aftermath of the Isla Vista, Calif., shootings and stabbings by the deeply troubled Elliot Rodger, two draft mental-health bills are getting a fresh look in the House. On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D) of California introduced a bill that marries mental health with preventing gun violence. In the Senate, meanwhile, one idea is to pull out the mental-health aspect from an expanded gun-background check bill that failed last year, and offer it as separate legislation.

For now, the action is in the House, with three bills that come at mental health and violence from different angles. These include:

Treating the severely mentally ill. Rep. Tim Murphy (R) of Pennsylvania, a clinical psychologist, has introduced a bill with a focus on people with serious mental illness. The bipartisan legislation, which has 86 cosponsors including 36 Democrats, would encourage states to revise standards to commit the severely mentally ill to hospitals – standards that would recognize need of treatment, not just imminent danger. The bill would also enable families and judges to intervene and to mandate therapy and medication, including outpatient treatment.

A broader approach. Rep. Ron Barber, a Democrat from Arizona who was injured in the 2011Tucson shooting that killed six people and injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D), takes a more sweeping approach. His bill would use federal dollars to improve general access to mental-health services by beefing up counseling, research, and education. “Investing in mental health services in our communities and early identification and prevention of mental illness will save both lives and money," Mr. Barber says in a statement. The bill, so far, has only Democratic sponsors.


Norman Ornstein, a political observer and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, says emotional cries are again rising to challenge the powerful gun lobby, including the 5-million-member National Rifle Association. That notwithstanding, he says, “there are plenty of members of Congress who would rather do something in mental health than on guns.” Groups that may oppose mental-health legislation have "less traction" than the gun lobby, he adds.

Clearly, gun zealots and unrelenting Second Amendment protectionists are more interested in protecting their deadly weapons of murder than in supporting the treatment of those who are a danger to themselves or others.  

In my opinion, all those involved in obstructing the protection of the public from gun violence are complicit in the mass murders of innocent victims killed as a result.

As is the case with many reparations, those responsible for the crimes should also be held accountable to atone. This should mean taxing guns and ammunition, to the extent that the money is dedicated to improve access to care, treatment and support for the mentally ill.

Americans, apparently, can't be protected against preventable gun violence. It's an incurable and untreated public health danger. Nevertheless, we're surely capable of enforcing legislation to protect the mentally ill from experiencing, like Rodger, the worst of their untreated symptoms. A dedicated assessment on guns and ammunition is surely one way to pay for the badly needed mental health programs.

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