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Mental Health

Congress, Guns and Mental Illness: Oh My!

Just a few weeks ago, on February 8th to be exact, Congress officially repealed an act finalized by the Social Security Administration in 2016, which was an improvement of the NCIS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007. The purpose of this act was to improve the background check system, which includes doing a check of the NICS index.

NICS Index, which includes the information contributed by federal and state agencies identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms who are not included in the III or NCIC, such as persons with a prohibiting mental health history or who are illegal or unlawful aliens.

But according to the Senate, which voted 57 to 43 on that Wednesday. this regulation “unfairly stigmatized people with disabilities”.

Alright, let’s take a step back. Now, I haven’t been alive as long as the people in the House or the Senate, but, it’s not hard to do the research and realize that this is the first time the GOP has given a major care about the mentally ill. I could go into the repealing of Obamacare, previous gun control, and what not but I believe the facts are pretty clear. No matter what party you’re a part of, it’s pretty clear that this is the first time in a while that the GOP has spoken in the favor of the mentally ill, and it’s no coincidence that the topic is guns.

My personal opinion is that I believe that if you want to have a gun for personal safety or hunting, go ahead. It’s your right to have one, but only if you purchase it legally and use it safely (ex: keeping it away from children). But as someone who knows and who personally deals with mental illness, I do not believe that those with mental illnesses should have access to guns. The repealing of this act brings more harm to the mentally ill than help. Here are some statistics on how the use of guns affects those with mental illnesses.

  • 85 to 91 percent of firearm suicide attempts are fatal compared with 3 percent or less for some of the other most commonly used methods, such as overdosing
  • Firearm Suicides: 21,334, deaths per 100,000
  • “But 72 percent of the people who did kill themselves with a gun were “legally eligible to purchase a gun on the day they used a gun to end their life,” Swanson says. “That suggests a problem with the criteria we have for identifying people at risk.” And the 28 percent who were not allowed to purchase guns managed to find one anyway, so the laws we do have are not perfectly enforced.”

But where’s the part where you mention gun violence and mental illness?

Only 4 percent of the violence—not just gun violence, but any kind—in the United States is attributable to schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or depression.

The main issue is that with the repealing of this act, the number of suicides by firearm will skyrocket, and no deep scientific analysis is needed to see that. So yes, maybe the GOP is trying to fight stigmatism that those who are mentally ill face on a daily basis, but at what cost? 

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Hannah Lefevre
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I'm 17 years old and am a senior in high school. I've enjoyed writing poetry since I was in middle school, but I'm excited to break out of my shell and write articles for Affinity! I plan to write about topics surrounding mental health and how it is perceived in different areas around the world, as well as articles on music and politics!

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