Health & Wellness / Opinion / Politics

Reexamining America’s Mental Health, Not the Second Amendment

mental health

The Second Amendment is, predictably, under fire again.  In the wake of the Texas and Ohio tragedies, Democratic presidential candidates want to call Congress back off recess to conduct a “special session,” passing immediate, restrictive anti-gun legislation on the heels of weekend shootings by two mentally deranged assailants.  Deeper thinking may be required.    

The two tragedies are sobering, senseless and have brought America back to a time of grief.  They involved guns, but they cast a long shadow over the state of mental health and our national unity.  Needed right now is less emotion, more rational thinking, not another swipe at longstanding, constitutionally grounded Second Amendment rights.  The issue is more arresting, more serious.

Common sense flees the mind in times of high emotion.  Facts often help restore it.  Nationally, we are experiencing a society-wide mental health crisis.  It parallels other converging social crises – including the national drug crisis, intergenerational fractures, reduced religious affiliations, higher levels of professional and family stress, escalating combat veteran needs, and social, political and cultural conflicts.  None of these are made better by national leaders who misunderstand, misdiagnose, or seek to politically redirect public attention for other purposes. 

First, the national numbers associated with mental health ailments are staggering – and reveal a need for great human compassion, proven individual and public policy strategies, and a re-elevating of these issues in the public dialogue.  Twisting public discussion to serve other aims, political agendas, or to further stir public ire at a time of public grief is not just poor judgment and bad leadership, it is patently unhelpful.

A 2018 study by the National Council for Behavioral Health offered prescient insights:  “There is a mental health crisis in America … and more needs to be done to give Americans much needed access to mental health services.”  Specifically, “the demand for mental health services is stronger than ever, with six in ten Americans (56%) seeking … mental health services for either themselves or for a loved one.”  

Moreover, “these individuals are skewing younger and are more likely to be lower income and have a military background,” and today “the large majority of Americans (76%) also believe mental health is just as important as physical health.”  So, the problem is enormous, and we know it.  

The biggest thing?  We are in a solvable crisis, whether for lack of family cohesion, faith as foundation, social alienation, speed and nature of cultural disruption, acceleration of social change, reduced human interaction and amputated personal skills, displacement in the roll of history, or just economic, political or personal insecurity.   This is the radiating center of other problems; we have to address it.

Second, the violent, unnerving deaths this past weekend – tied to two individuals who, by all appearances operated with severe mental and/or emotional impairments – should be answered by thoughtful, non-partisan public policy solutions, a review of private and public records.  These events should be the springboard for a national discussion about how to restore individual, community and national mental health, emotional stability, and national unity – not to further incite public disunion.

Third, comparative numbers may seem inapt at a time of grief, but these numbers help place the two leading issues – mental health and a renewed discussion of gun rights – in perspective.  While the events are tragic, they must be understood in context to better prevent recurrence.   And deeper causes need to be understood.  

The tragedies affect us deeply because Americans value innocent human life, because we want to protect our country, our communities, and the future.  These deaths – and events like these – seem frightening and unforeseeable but are preventable.  Occurring in a public place, they appear random, which adds to fear, unease, and public discomfort.  That is why a more robust discussion of mental health is timely. 

But rational minds must take also stock of other facts – the reasons we have an individual, constitutionally guaranteed right to “keep and bear arms.”  The Second Amendment, placed in the Constitution to allow individuals to protect themselves, their homes, families, communities and our nation’s future against government and individual attacks, cannot be materially restricted without undermining other liberties.  

In fact, the Second Amendment protects liberties found in the First, Fourth, Sixth and virtually all other Amendments.  A mortal threat to public safety is presented by restricting the chief means for protecting public safety, one viewed as sacrosanct by our Founders.  The right to keep and bear arms remains sacred, constitutional and material to our country’s free future.   

Put differently, the right to “keep and bear arms” without excess restriction, intrusion or confiscation has long been understood as seminal to a nation’s freedom.  Even last century’s seminal “man of peace,” the advocate of non-violence Mahatma Gandhi, warned the Indian people never to allow a government to take their guns.  Referring to the Arms Act of 1878, he said: “Among the many misdeeds of British rule in India, history will look upon the act depriving a whole nation of arms as the blackest.”

More simply, unforeseen loss of life is common, and seldom produces a cry to eliminate the physical cause of lost life, but rather increased caution in human behavior.  Draconian restrictions on firearms will not solve the underlying mental health crisis, any more than banning cars is the right answer to end car crashes. Nationally, mental health problems lead to needless loss of life – more than any one object.

So, while the process of national, local and family grief rests heavy on all of us, there is also a genuine need for deeper and longer-term thinking.  We can tackle the mental health crisis and reduce these tragedies, while respecting constitutional prerogatives and honoring individual rights, including the right to self-protection, protection of others, and protection of other individual liberties.  We can help make our society healthier and safer, while keep faith with the Second Amendment. 

So, predictably, the Second Amendment is under fire in the wake of a shooting-related tragedy.  The bigger question is what mental state did the shooters bring to these scenes, how did they get to that mental state, and how can we work to prevent others from getting there?  

The problem is not with our rights, but with America’s fraying mental health and emotional well-being – especially in a time of growing disunion, disinterest in reestablishing social cohesion and reaffirming national union.  Perhaps it is time again to think again about being “One Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”  For enduring peace, hard work, an honest assessment of history, and a conversation about where we are, is a good place to start.

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Frank S.
1 year ago

An outstanding article, full of common sense. What I found almost as disturbing as the two heinous acts themselves this past weekend, is how the MSM immediately went into high-gear putting this all on President Trump. Hours upon hours of the same garbage, regardless the network. This has to affect so many people already afflicted with Trump Derangement Syndrome. But I think the single biggest reason we’re seeing these horrible acts is that we, as a country, are systematically dismantling those institutions that have made us the nation we are. As a rule I’m not a very religious person (but… Read more »

Douglas Weise
1 year ago

When God is removed from the public square, Satan takes over.

1 year ago

They can pass all the laws they want. It will just hurt the normal people. Criminals will always kill.

1 year ago

A couple of days ago a guy in CA stabbed six and four died. Also a couple of days ago someone drove onto a curb in Phoenix, AZ killing three. London, England has band knives on the streets except for the squiggly ones used by Aribics (sp) for religious symbols. On another note the bad old NRA is the organization that came up with the NICS (National Instant Check System) given to congress for passage. That gives gun dealers a phone in to the FBI for a check that in my experience happens in a half hour or less on… Read more »

1 year ago

There was an incident in Southern CA , where a person stabbed 6 people, 4 fatally. Why wasn’t this blaring on national TV? Authorities refused to give the ethnicity of the victims or the stabber. It just doesn’t fit their agenda, it seems. My conclusion is that it may have been an illegal alien. What conclusion can anyone come up with? Let’s ban KNIVES!

Brenda Blunt
1 year ago

Mental health is a sad thing. However, raising a child needs to have the same values when I was a child. Kids were given chores and held accountable for getting them done!! Also, playing outside instead of being in front of a television! Having a parent at home to raise the child instead of a daycare or a medication! Times are changing and sadly how children are raised. There are children who have been raised wonderfully and the parents have done an amazing job and should be congratulated.

1 year ago

It seems to me like one of biggest problems in this country today is lack of discipline and respect for others that the younger generation is not getting from parents, educators, and those around them, There is also too much disconnect with others due to every one having face buried in cell phone or computer instead of interaction with real people face to face. the media spends it’s effort telling everyone it is someone else’s fault, not the person doing the miss deed. what ever happened to the time when the news was suppose to print the truth, not their… Read more »

1 year ago

Guns are not the problem and banning them is not the answer. This is a heart problem. The people in our nation have turned their backs on God so He has turned His back on them. Cain killed Abel with a rock. If people have hate in their hearts and decide to kill, they can kill with a gun, a knife, a rock, a car, even their bare hands. There is no way to stop it unless the hearts of people change. People need to turn back to God. He is the Prince of Peace.

1 year ago

It is 1984. Do not talk to your neighbor. Keep your mouth shut around family. Only share with strangers and non-stranger useless info like how’s the weather. Be careful of sharing anything deep with spouse or children. Everyone is now an informant and you are guilty without due process.

1 year ago

Why would anyone feel complete despair with our country with the leadership we have in Congress ? Why would all the crazy ramblings of public officials make someone feel completely helpless? The media wouldn’t just keep broadcasting their propaganda if they knew it was creating these feelings of despair and and total uselessness? Our country is on the brink of total destruction when our youth and future feel that they have no future by dissolving them not as an individual in America but as one individual in the world. Their fears are real with the open border ideology of the… Read more »

1 year ago

I hate to say it but our congress is only interested in their agenda of controlling the populace by restricting or taking away guns…THE FIRST THING A SOCIALIST DICTATOR DOES. So who is the dictator trying to take control? This rush to call congress back and push thru something is their way of getting their own way and sneaking thru some horrible law or other. We MUST NOT let them get away with this bull…. Communist, Socialist Democrats jump on this solution every time. It is not the solution and anyone with half a brain can now see thru their… Read more »

Wayne D Peterkin
1 year ago

“The biggest thing? We are in a solvable crisis, whether for lack of family cohesion, faith as foundation, social alienation, speed and nature of cultural disruption, acceleration of social change, reduced human interaction and amputated personal skills, displacement in the roll of history, or just economic, political or personal insecurity. This is the radiating center of other problems; we have to address it. ” This one paragraph from the article sums up the problem. Too many people, especially young people, are alienated from society feeling like outcasts. That leads to much of the mental health diagnosis. It also fosters the… Read more »

Jane Runey
1 year ago

I am a firm believer that God never turns his back on us, even as people seek to remove all references to him as wrong. I agree that the problems we are facing can be traced to the break-up of family structures. No fathers will lead to lack of discipline and the welfare society has brought this to us. Today, when there are more jobs available than there are people to take them, there are few legitimate excuses for able-bodied people to be getting welfare. Who remembers Bill Clinton’s famous “welfare to work program”? It worked to take an awful… Read more »

Barbara Dodge
1 year ago

You are SO right in your analysis. And the mental health issue goes back to what this country was founded on and what has made it the great country it IS—-a family-based home and Christian principles of “love thy neighbor” instilled in the minds of children from the very beginning of their education.. What in the world ever made that a thing to be ridiculed and ourlawed?

1 year ago

Politicians forget the old adage: decide in haste; repent at leisure. If we eviscerate the 2nd amendment liberties, the rest will fall, one or two at a time.

Kay Thompson
1 year ago

You hit “the nail on the head!” It’s NOT the guns, it’s a need for humongous focus on “Mental Health Care” in the US!!! ?????? And teaching and encouraging community (family, friends, co-workers) to bring themselves to report “red flags” no matter how difficult it is! You are probably saving many lives! And getting help for the person before they actually carry out plans!
Please continue keeping us “ up-to-date” on this subject! Thank you!

1 year ago

Looks as if we’re witnessing the the beginning of the end of freedom and freewill entering into the life of bondage via socialistic / Communism. Intelligent move Eloy’s you are being controlled by the Moore-Locks as Eloy’s i.e the Time Machine. These Totalitarian Communist Democrat Libertarians are self proclaimed Gods opening the door into Purgatory. This slippery one way slope is all down hill into purgatory the satanic influence in full glory spreading like wildfire………. Protect save our 2nd Amendment God Given Right with all our strength decapitating the head of the serpent, NO guns, NO freewill, NO freedoms NO… Read more »

1 year ago

I have worked with teenagers for 50 years and suggest getting a panel of teen males and ones in their 20’s to discuss causes and solutions to these mass shootings. They know much more than our elected officials and could be the change agents we need. Pam Robbins

Dan Zuverink
1 year ago

As it is whenever one of these tragic things happen, The very STUPID media brings way too much “advertisement” to those who are mentally problematic, and they see that they will have a large voice if they follow through with their problematic thinking process. We must STOP all the media process, that keeps these very bad situations on the T.V. every day, and beaten into all or heads, but especially those who may have some bad thoughts already rolling around in their minds. I certainly will not have any problem, as my Lord and Savior has told me how to… Read more »

Josephine pooley
1 year ago

Well said!

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