Monday, January 21, 2013

Mentally Ill and Gun Ownership

Consider the following statement running through state and federal politician offices and hallways:
If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that mentally ill people should not have access to firearms.
Under 18 U.S.C. § 922(d), it is unlawful for any person to sell or otherwise dispose of any firearm or ammunition to any person knowing or having reasonable cause to believe that such person “has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.” Most states have similar statues.

But what constitutes mentally ill? It is a clear-cut thing? Is anyone that has been to professional therapy one that should be considered a mentally ill candidate? Is a soldier that has been involved in any "explosive" conflict and visits a therapist afterwards a person that should be unable to own a gun? Is a soldier suffering from PTSD or TBI one that should be flagged?

We can assume that psychology professionals have decent education and knowledge as to what constitutes mentally incompetent. Even within the mental health profession there are those individuals that fall into the grey area and might be analyzed differently by different therapists. What what happens to one that is deemed mentally incompetent but is later deemed competent?

Gun ownership should not be allowed for the truly mentally ill. However, the concern we should have with any gun restriction laws is if a mentally incompetent assessment is permanent. If not, will gun ownership laws full suite?

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