In another hit to the prospects of gun controllers, this week the Washington Post published the findings of a recent survey conducted by the Post in conjunction with ABC News. The results show that Americans overwhelmingly understand high-profile shootings as pointing to a problem with the country’s mental health system, rather than a lack of gun control laws.
The survey, carried out October 15-18, asked respondents, “Do you think that mass shootings in this country are more a reflection of (problems identifying and treating people with mental health problems) or (inadequate gun control laws)?” 63 percent of those questioned understood that these events are a result of improperly addressing those with mental illness. A mere 23 percent believed that a lack of gun control is the cause, while 10 percent answered that both were to blame.
Unfortunately, the wisdom of the American people is lost on much of the political class, who reflexively turn to decades-old gun control proposals as the solution to this exceedingly complex issue. Which is why, while Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton rail against guns and gun owners, each touting restrictive legislation repeatedly rejected by the American people and their representatives, NRA is working towards an actual solution.
In August, NRA announced its support for Senator John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) S.2002, or the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act of 2015, and applauded U.S. Representative Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) when she introduced the House version (H.R. 3722) this month. Both bills would encourage the states to forward prohibiting mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Further, in order to protect the rights of all Americans, including those who have experienced some form of mental health treatment, the bill includes safeguards on the types of records states may send to NICS; ensuring that prohibiting records comport with the due process protections guaranteed by the Constitution. Moreover, the bill would remedy the Veterans Administration’s long-standing practice of reporting non-dangerous beneficiaries, who are simply assigned a fiduciary to help manage their finances, to NICS as prohibited.
It is important to note that the mentally ill should not be stigmatized as violent, as mental health officials recognize that mental illness alone is not predictive of violence. However, it is encouraging that the American public understands that this is a complex issue and that the focus of any policy to address high-profile shootings should not be about addressing the inanimate tool used by the perpetrator, but instead about the individual that carried out the violent act.