If you’ve been watching the news lately or been on social media I am sure you’ve heard about the shooting in Florida on Valentines day. I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that we need to ban guns or that the people who do this are mentally ill but things need to change. My middle child is in Kindergarten and it gives me great anxiety sending him to school knowing that these things are happening.
I’m so tired of seeing grief stricken parents burying their kids. I’m tired of other kids witnessing people they know and love dying. I am also so so so tired of the lack of compassion and empathy towards these people who’ve lost loved ones especially by saying that one of these massacres didn’t happen.
I don’t understand why we value to right own weapons over the safety of our citizens. Where our politicians are so crooked and greedy that they prize lining their pockets over doing what is right for it’s citizens and not representing those who have elected them to do so. I’m tired of lobby groups being more powerful than having a decent moral compass.
Everyone keeps pointing to places like the UK and Australia that have banned guns and say “See! This worked there, it could work here too!” but I have to ask; could it? Our culture is so different than those countries. It’s hard to explain to people who have never been to Europe but in many aspects the United States is still very much the wild wild west. We are so much more uncivilized than other European countries. I don’t know if that’s because in terms of age we are still considered a younger country of it we are just the kind of nation that thumbs it’s nose at others who are different and gets all “In your face” about it.
Let me also talk about the mental health aspect of this situation. I am getting REALLY tired of hearing people say “Oh these people are mentally ill and that’s why they do these things. Watch for the red flags and report it to the authorities.” Here are the problems I have with this mentality as a mental health practitioner:
- What does mental illness mean? What is your definition? If you don’t work in the mental health field your definition is probably vastly different than mine. How do you know if someone is mentally ill? Is depression and anxiety enough of a mental illness to commit this type of crime?
- Why are all white people who commit these crimes labeled as mentally ill but if the person is black they are a thug, or Muslim – terrorist, or Mexican – bad hombre. Why is mentally ill a label reserved for only white men who commit these crimes?
- Labeling the perpetrator of these types of crimes as “mentally ill” creates even more of a stigma around mental illness than already exists. It’s an uphill battle daily and these types of labels make it an even steeper slope to climb to get people the help they need.
- “Should we create some legislation around people who are mentally ill and guns??” I mean, it wouldn’t hurt but let’s talk about that for a second. Again, define mentally ill. In my eyes this is a slippery slope. Can we speculate as to what diagnoses would create a situation in which a person would become ill enough to commit a crime of this magnitude? Would mandating that specific diagnoses not have weapons impinge on those peoples rights to autonomy?
- Let’s talk about “red flags”. I work for a crisis team and I’ve been here for almost a year. One thing that I’ve learned while working here is that a crisis for one person isn’t a crisis for another. Crisis presents so differently for each person that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to watch for red flags. As a mental health practitioner I am sometimes still caught off guard by how a crisis can present in a person. I am a trained professional and highly educated. So to ask people who are untrained to look for red flags is like an urban myth.
- Do I think we need a vast overhaul of our health care system? YES!!! Especially when it comes to mental health. I don’t know if socialized healthcare is right for our country or not but what I CAN tell you is that what we are doing now……it’s not working. So many people are either victimized by the system or are completely failed by it. There are so many people that are hurting that just can’t get the help they need for a variety of reasons. We can and need to do better.
I am so frustrated that there has been absolutely NO movement at all in the form of gun legislation. Whenever anyone attempts to talk about it all we hear is “It’s not the time to talk about this.” Well, when is the fucking time? If it’s not after Sandy Hook and it’s not after Pulse Night club or after Las Vegas and it’s not after San Bernadino and it’s not after Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School then I just have to ask….