But let’s look at the issue of mental health and guns. If mental health is part of the issue, why not have a waiting period before someone can purchase a firearm, which could be helpful if someone is experiencing an episodic mental health concern, such as the loss of a job, a breakup, or other triggers? Why can’t we support red flag laws or Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) legislation to keep someone from having a gun without stigmatizing mental illness? Why not raise the age to be able to purchase a gun to 21? Why can’t we pass universal background checks? Why can’t we do something about the prevalence of gun violence in our country?

Listed below are proactive policies to protect the rights of everyone and reduce gun deaths:

  • Appropriate funding to research agencies to study 1) causes of violent ideation and 2) the best practices to prevent suicide and help individuals recover from trauma due to acts of gun violence in communities.
  • Ensure that procedures and restrictions related to legal firearm ownership do not depend on a history of mental illness as this will have no meaningful impact on public safety.
  • Provide training to gun shop and shooting range employees to identify at-risk persons whose sole intent in purchasing (or renting) a gun is to die by suicide.
  • Create a mechanism to allow persons with suicidal ideation or violent ideation to surrender their firearms voluntarily and temporarily until such ideation is resolved.
  • Provide public education on the importance of safe gun storage in the home, such as keeping firearms and ammunition stored separately.
  • Assure that all firearms, including long guns, have gun locks.
  • Enact Extreme Risk Protective Order (ERPO) legislation, that is time-limited and provides due process. Modeled on domestic violence restraining order laws, ERPO’s avoid stigmatizing persons with mental illnesses because they are not focused on mental illness but on the risk of gun violence. (Mental Health America)

Remember, individuals with mental illness are often the victims of violence rather than the perpetrators of violence on others. We need to have an open, honest and productive conversation about what causes such a high rate of gun violence in our country. We must come together to find meaningful solutions. We must not allow ourselves to become numb to children dying in classrooms, elderly citizens' lives cut short while grocery shopping, music lovers becoming victims to gun violence at a concert (the list goes on). And we must stop using mental illness as a scapegoat.