Guns and that crazy guy (or gal).

Normally, I would never in a bazillion years agree with anything the NRA says, not because I am anti-gun or otherwise, but because as with many other lobbyist groups who assert power they have their own best interests at heart and could give a shit less about the rest of us. And they say some pretty batshit things regarding gun control laws and guns in general.

Before I continue, I would like to make a couple of things clear. I am not for or against guns. I don’t have one because I don’t necessarily think that everyone needs one or SHOULD have one. My ex-husband was one of those people, at least in our life together. Without going into details he did a really dumb thing that could have resulted in Bri’s or my death when Bri was around 2.

Secondly, I have to be honest and say that if I were to be forced to pick a side or be forced to participate in the Zombie Apocalypse, I would have to support the non-gun faction. No, don’t get your panties in a wad, but my personal belief is that a gun of any sort is made solely for the purpose of KILLING something. I don’t care if you’re a sportsman who goes out and shoots targets, or cans, or, bottles, or skeet or whatever. The toy you are playing with could just as easily kill as the big loud bang can give you the feeling of power that must be the explanation for so many people desiring such an item. Why not knitting needles? You can stab an intruder in the eye and make a scarf the next day.
Having said that, I won’t lobby to take your basic gun rights away. And I say basic. The 2nd Amendment does in fact protect your usage of a gun. And I like the 1st and 14th Amendments too much to give them up, and hence respect your desire to have your Amendment as long as I can keep mine.
No, I won’t fight that. I will say that a military style weapon is completely different, however, and you won’t get me to budge on that.

But this wasn’t really supposed to be about the gun control debate. I want to talk  about mental illness, which is what the NRA is propagating as the main problem regarding these mass murders. I don’t completely agree, but there is a point to his argument (notwithstanding the point that those that support gun freedom often DO NOT support Obamacare). Mental illness in this country is stigmatized, creating a situation in which many people do not get the help they need because of fear. Fear of losing their children, fear of never getting out of the hospital, fear of losing friends, fear of the loss of their job.
These are not spurious fears. But the larger picture is that even if you do get care it’s often limited by what the insurance will pay for, if it even pays for it at all. Many mental health policies in the US pay for 20 sessions and 1-2 weeks of hospitalization. For the long term ill, this is nowhere near enough.
Here’s some interesting statistics:

  • More than 450 million across the globe suffer from mental illnesses. [World Health Organization]
  • Schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, dementia, alcohol dependence and other mental, neurological and substance-use disorders make up 13% of the global disease burden, surpassing both cardiovascular disease and cancer. [National Institutes of Health]
  • By 2030, depression will be the second highest cause of disease burden in middle-income countries and the third highest in low-income countries. [WHO]
  • In the United States, people with severe mental illness die 25 years earlier than the general population on average. [Time] In Denmark, the life expectancy gap has been shown to be as high as 18.7 years with certain disorders. [Psychiatric News] And the differential in life expectancy is believed to be even wider in developing countries.
  • In the last 45 years suicide rates have increased by 60% worldwide. [WHO] More than 90% of people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental disorder. [NIH]
  • Suicide is among the three leading causes of death among those ages 15-44 years in some countries, and the second leading cause of death in the 10-24 years age group. [WHO]
  • In the UK, 70% of people affected by mental illness experience discrimination, and discrimination is believed to be worse in developing countries. [The Guardian]
  • Mental and psychosocial disabilities are associated with rates of unemployment as high as 90%. [WHO]
  • Meanwhile, those with severe mental illnesses are more likely to have other health risk factors, as well. In the Untied States, while about 22% of the general population smokes, more than 75% of people with severe mental illness are tobacco-dependent. And people with depression or bipolar disorder are about twice as likely to be obese as the general population. [Time]

What infuriates me the most about all of this, is the fact that proponents of the rights and treatment of the mentally ill have been fighting for better care for decades. They have been warning, talking, researching, and speaking about the necessity for better care for the mentally ill. And it takes tragedy after tragedy for people to wake up and realize that something needs to be done, and worse, could have been done BEFORE many of these mass shootings happened. I’m not naive enough to think the NRA or any of their ilk truly care much for those with mental illness. Obviously they are trying to obfuscate the fact that there really no need for a civilian to have a gun that shoots 100 bullets a minute. But if it gets all the other dolts that follow them to cry out for better mental health care, I’ll accept it. You have to choose your battles wisely, and I sincerely doubt that even the deaths of 20 innocent children will change most gun owners’ minds. So, lets start with finding out what’s causing the mental illness, how to ameliorate the problem, and how to give these children—both the mentally ill and the victims—a better life, one that holds less fear than what they have now. One that allows for joy, kindness, love, and perhaps most importantly, peace, rather than terror, sadness, confusion, and the paranoia that leads to tragedy. It is not a matter of budget problems any longer. It’s a matter of decency and most importantly, the love of and for our children.

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