Mental Health & Gun Laws

Another mass shooting happened in Florida. This time at a football video game tournament in Jacksonville.  Three people are dead including the 24-year old shooter, David Katz; 11 others are injured.

After every mass shooting comes the hope that maybe this time will be different. Maybe this will be what gets the attention of Congress to pass some reasonable gun laws that will prevent the next killing.

After 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida were killed, it’s pretty clear who’s winning: the gun lobby. The NRA’s favorite empty slogan: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people,” argues that guns are not the problem which conveniently absolves the gun lobby for any blame.

But this NRA logic is nonsensical. The U.S. has more school shootings than any other country and mass shootings are far more common in the U.S. than in other countries.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said after the Parkland shooting, “…mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.”

Despite Ryan and other Republicans confessed concern about mental health issues, they have insisted on cutting funding for Medicaid, the largest provider of mental health treatment.

Donald Trump, in his first two months as president, repealed an Obama administration gun regulation that prevented certain individuals with mental health conditions from buying firearms – another significant step for gun advocates, the NRA and the gun lobby.

Florida Governor Rick Scott is no better. He said after the Parkland shooting that more funding for mental health care is needed. What he failed to say is that during his seven years as governor, Florida’s per-capita spending on mental health has fallen to 50th in the nation.

Assault weapons, including large-capacity bullet magazines, were restricted for 10 years by federal law which lapsed in 2004.

So gun regulations are not a new idea and haven’t been considered antithetical to the Constitution.  All we ask of lawmakers is to enact more common-sense safeguards.

If we really want to protect Florida citizens and children, we should not have to choose between better gun laws and better mental health care. Both are needed.