Mental Health Partnerships: ‘It’s The Guns’

“Mental Health Partnerships (MHP), a multi-faceted mental health advocacy and service agency, joins with all Americans in mourning the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—and we demand that our legislators take immediate action to prevent such tragedies,” says MHP President and CEO Michael Brody.

“We are talking about gun safety. After a mass shooting in Australia in 1996, the country enacted strict gun laws—and it has not had a mass shooting since. ‘In the developed world, these levels of gun violence are a uniquely American problem.’

“Even within the U.S., the research is clear: According to an American Public Health Association study, ‘states with higher rates of gun ownership had disproportionately large numbers of deaths from firearm-related homicides.’ As economist Richard Florida wrote, ‘fatal gun violence is less likely to occur in richer states with more post-industrial knowledge economies, higher levels of college graduates, and tighter gun laws. Factors like drug use, stress levels, and mental illness are much less significant than might be assumed (emphasis added).’

“Many of us at Mental Health Partnerships have been diagnosed with serious mental health conditions, and we are concerned about the linking of such conditions with a propensity for violence, because it increases prejudice and discrimination. As a writer on the Behavioral Scientist website noted in October: ‘Perpetuating the myth that mental illness is the cause of mass shootings only serves to stigmatize the mentally ill even further. In addition, it distracts from the more difficult conversation that must be had over gun-control in America.’

“Unfortunately, many of our legislators are in thrall to the National Rifle Association. Republicans received nearly $6 million in the 2016 election cycle; Democrats received $106,000. (How much does your legislator receive? Here’s the list.And President Trump? He got at least $21 million from the gun lobby.) But who are they representing? Ninety percent of Americans support background checks for all gun sales.

“As to the Second Amendment (which, in fact, covers militias, not personal gun ownership), common sense begs the question ‘Guns have changed. Shouldn’t our gun laws?'”

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