In the past few years, 51 lives have been lost at the hands of three mentally ill young men. Can anything be done to prevent guns from getting in the hands of the mentally distressed?
It’s very easy for a person with a documented psychiatric disorder to access a gun. So how can licensed dealers prevent firearms from getting in the hands of the mentally ill? Well, we can take a page out of the Department of Transportation screening process. When a truck driver wants to get a license to operate an 18-wheeler in Texas (which is equally deadly if used irresponsibly), they have to provide medical records. These records are detailed and include vital signs, lab work and medical conditions. After the DOT reviews the medical records for each patient, the DOT deems if that person is capable of driving a truck. This careful scrutiny of truck drivers is intended to protect our roads from the dangers of these big rigs when operated improperly. Should we not do the same thing for would be gun owners?
In the past 5 years, 51 people have been killed by three mentally distressed people. The deaths are irreversible, but gun legislation is not. In 1791, the simple idea that it was the citizen’s right to use a gun to hunt and protect himself led to the Right to Bear Arms. Maybe today, adding a few clauses such as mandating states to upload mental health records onto a federal database, educating gun retailers about proper screening for mental health and prohibiting gun sales to all psychiatric patients wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Original story “Time to make it harder for mentally ill to get guns” by Monica Ghosh Kalra featured in the Houston Chronicle on August 31, 2012.