SELF – Trump Lifts Obama-era Gun Checks for People with Severe Mental Illness
One of President Trump’s earliest moves in office has been to lift an Obama-era gun checks for people with severe mental illness. And while the ACLU and NRA is championing this move as a victory against further stigma and unnecessary restrictions on the mentally ill, many gun control advocates and mental health professionals are concerned.
I am one of them, and was honored to weigh in on this great piece for SELF. To read the full article, click HERE.
The previous ruling was a “really responsible law, and maybe not enough,” licensed clinical psychologist Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D., tells SELF. “These are the people who are so impaired that they can’t work, can’t take care of themselves, and they’re being taken care of by the government,” she says. “I think it makes every sense in the world that they should not be allowed to own weapons whose sole purpose is to kill.”
Clark says that it’s “just not safe” for people who are chronically mentally ill to own a gun. “If they can’t take care of themselves and they need help to function in life, it should also stand that they can’t make safe decisions around owning a weapon,” she says. And clinical psychologist John Mayer, Ph.D., author of Family Fit: Find Your Balance in Life, points out that mental illness is an illness, which by definition restricts a person’s ability to perform certain functions. “Gun access is no different,” he tells SELF. “Your illness comes with certain restrictions.”
Clark calls this “biggest risk” in this case. Research has repeatedly found a link between access to guns and suicide. According to the Harvard University T.H. Chan School of Public Health, 12 or more U.S. case control studies have compared individuals who died by suicide with those who did not and found those dying by suicide were more likely to live in homes with guns.
A meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2014 also found that access to guns is associated with an increased risk for suicide, as well as being the victim of a homicide.
“People get really concerned about violence towards others,” Clark says. “Most of the time with the chronically mentally ill, the risk is to themselves,” Clark says.
Clark says this isn’t just an issue of stigmatizing people with mental illness—it’s beyond that. “It’s grossly unfair to allow people who can be so impaired and so distressed to be able to purchase a gun to end their lives,” she says.