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Guns for the Mentally Ill? Good Idea Says NRA

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It is no secret that many mass shooters are under the influence of psychiatric drugs at the time of their crimes. The gunmen involved in the Columbine High School, Red Lake reservation, Northern Illinois University and Virginia Tech mass shootings were under the influence of psychiatric drugs or withdrawing from them. The Aurora, Tucson and Newtown shooters had serious mental illness histories and were likely on medication, too. Michael Hill, the would-be mass murderer at Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Georgia last week, was on a host of mental medicines, his home described as looking like a drug store.

 

What is a secret is that the NRA believes in "restoring" the "gun rights" of such people even as it blames gun violence on video games and the mentally ill.  In 2007, after the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists slipped a provision into the NCIS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 that allows the restoration of gun rights of mentally ill people if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and if “the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.” Hey, sales are $ales.

 

Thanks to the NRA's "Gun Relief" provision, Sam French, a Virginia who was involuntarily committed and told authorities he heard voices, had his right to possess firearms reinstated and his gun returned after a short court hearing in 2009, reported the New York Times. Thank you, NRA. An unidentified man, who had become a prohibited purchaser after an involuntary commitment abetted by meth addiction, also had his rights restored under the relief program, reported the Oregonian. The man had succeeded in "obtaining a concealed handgun license despite his involuntary commitment," but when he tried to buy a shotgun at a Portland gun show he was barred. We can't have that. Soon after pursuing "Gun Relief," he had a "new XDM Springfield handgun at his side," reports the Oregonian.

 

In a few short weeks in 2009, a string of grisly family murders also highlighted the deadly combo of mental illness and gun possession. In Orting, WA, James Harrison allegedly shot and killed his five children. Devan Kalathat allegedly shot and killed his two children and three other relatives in Santa Clara, CA. Michael McLendon, described as a "gun collector," allegedly shot and killed his grandparents, an aunt and uncle and five other people in Alabama. And Christopher Alan Wood allegedly shot and killed his wife and three children, Middletown, MD, citing psychiatric drugs as a reason.

 

Almost all psychiatric medications carry a "black box warning" for suicidal thinking and worsening psychiatric symptoms in young people. Many indict the spate of military suicides, including among those who have never even deployed, on psychiatric drugs. (By most accounts the military has become a "pill mill" with the use of some drugs having increased by 700 percent.)

 

According to the NRA, people with violence and commitment histories, including those who hear voices and take extreme medication, have "gun rights." And the solution to the mass shootings that result is more guns to protect ourselves from the people the NRA arms.

 

 

 

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