Monday, January 21, 2013

Take My Gun Rights, Please

I think we assume that those with a mental disorder don't want to be told they can't own a gun.  Maybe it's stigma, maybe it's simply the fact that no one wants to be told they don't have the same rights as anyone else.  My personal problem with the idea of keeping guns from people with mental illnesses is that we really haven't clearly defined who those "mentally ill" out there are and it's not an "Us" and "Them" issue.  If someone has been hospitalized for dangerous behavior arising from a mental disorder, requires medications for chronic difficulties with mood or perceptions, and are on governmental disability for a psychiatric disorder, then they are certain in the category of  people with mental illnesses.  But half of all people will have a mental illness of some kind at some point in their life, many people without defined psychiatric disorders will behave in impulsive and dangerous ways, and people who do not have mental illnesses will obtain guns and later become ill, or will live with others who become dangerous. 

So this article caught my attention because the writer thinks about obtaining a gun after someone tried to crash into her home.  I thought she was going to be glad she didn't end up shooting some intoxicated guy.  Instead, she talks about her own depression and how she decided not to purchase a gun because she is afraid she will use it to commit suicide if she has another episode of depression.  She doesn't think it's a bad idea for the government to forbid people with her condition from buying guns.  A link, and a quote, and I'll leave it at that.  Comment as you like.

Please Take Away My Right To A Gun
from The New York Times, by Wendy Button.

My depression appeared for the first time in the late ’90s, right before I began writing for politicians. It comes and goes like fog. Medicine can help. I have my tricks to manage and get through it. Sometimes it sticks around for a day or a week, and sometimes it stays away for a couple of years. But it never leads me to sleep all day, cry and wear sweat pants like the people in the commercials. You’d look at me and never know that sometimes my fight against the urge to die is so tough the only way I get through it is second by second; I live by the second hand. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 38,364 Americans lost that fight in 2010 and committed suicide; 19,392 used a gun. No one ever attempted to break down my door in the early morning again, but I had an episode when my depression did come back in full force in the early winter of 2009, after I made a career-ending decision and isolated myself too much; on a January night in 2010; and again in May 2012, after testifying in the federal criminal trial of John Edwards, my former boss. If I had purchased that gun and it had been in my possession, I’m not sure I would have been able to resist and would be here typing these words.