Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder: [Essay Example], 1219 words GradesFixer
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Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder

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The events that have unfolded over the past few weeks, months, and years have once again brought the issue of gun ownership, violence, and necessity to the table for a brief period before being forgotten. One of the issues that has been brought to the forefront once again is whether those with a mental illness should be allowed to purchase firearms. One of the biggest debates regarding this issue is if those with a mental instability are entitled the same rights as all Americans, the right to keep and bear arms; proponents of the recent rollbacks to gun restrictions of the mentally ill cite this issue adamantly. Opponents of those with a mental illness to possess a gun cite the violent tendencies and lack of remorse for human life as seen in psychopaths and other illnesses. This paper intends to argue that while limiting gun ownership of the mentally ill may be beneficial in reducing instances of violent crime, it would be difficult to enforce, and in violation of several laws.

One of the largest criticisms the Trump administration has faced since the deadly shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada, was their early 2017 implementation of H.J. Res. 40 which nullified the Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 (United States. Congress). The Implementation of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 required the Social Security Administration and other federal agencies to provide records of people with mental impairments to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or the NICS for short (United States.Social Security). The NICS serves as a way for those in the sale of firearms and the FBI to quickly identify if the customer has a criminal record or other illegitimacy that restricts their ability to purchase a firearm (“National”). Since its implementation in November of 1998 over 230 million checks have been made which have led to 1.3 million purchase denials (“National”). The clear majority of Americans are found to be in favor of background checks for all gun buyers, results from multiple polls find that to average out around 90% (Kertscher). The restrictions that are a part of the NICS serve as an accurate and surefire way to check people and save lives, allowing relatively educated and responsible Americans to purchase guns while keeping them away from those who people believe may seek to do harm.

One of the focus issues of the mental illness gun debate is if people with mental illnesses are entitled to the same rights as other Americans. Many reforms were proposed since the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting including mental health background checks for all gun sales [including the gun show loophole], updates to the national mental health background check system, and an increase of patient mental health issues being reported (Kangas and Calvert). The goal of background checks since the beginning was to identify people who were involuntarily committed to psychiatric treatments or were identified by courts as mentally incompetent, but the state of Florida went a step further and passed a gun control law that required both voluntary and involuntary mental health treatments be reported (Kangas and Calvert). Laws like this can be very controversial, some issues can include discrimination and doctor-patient confidentiality.

There is one very large stumbling blocks regarding the mentally ill and attempts to restrict their gun ownership. These are the HIPAA privacy rules, they are enforced by the U.S. Office for Civil Rights. The HIPAA rules ensure health care providers protect the identifiable health information of their patients (Kangas and Calvert). On January 16, 2013, President Obama released a plan to reduce gun violence, one of these planned actions goal was, according to the president, “Address unnecessary legal barriers that prevent states from reporting information about those prohibited from having guns (Kangas and Calvert).” The HIPAA Privacy Rules are consistent with the confidentiality guidelines followed by psychologists; the changes to the mandate would challenge the disclosure policies of psychologists that is enforced at the state level, especially in states where the psychologist’s duty to the patient goes well above that of a third party (Kangas and Calvert). These types of laws would be hard to enforce and rely on due to differences in every state that are protected under the 10th Amendment (which allows states to make their own laws that are not directed by the federal government) and the chance of psychologists refusing to violate their code of ethics.

A justification for the restriction of mentally ill individuals to purchase guns is their increased unpredictability and tendencies of violence. While it is true that only a very evil person would commit acts of violence without prejudice, research still has trouble finding a clear connotation between mental illness and violence; many studies have pointed to a slight risk of violence in some illnesses, while one major study failed to find a connection (Norko). A 1994 epidemiological study found that only around 3%-5% of violent crimes were attributable to mental illness (Kangas and Calvert). Retired FBI profiler Joe Navarro says that many of the mass killings in the United States could have been prevented if people were educated on what to look out for; many of these individuals have common traits that serve as a possible warning (Navarro). Some of these traits include narcissism, paranoid ideation, and passionate hatred; people who are narcissistic believe themselves to be above everyone else and think they have the right to act with impunity (Navarro). While being able to stop a percentage of violent crimes completely is desirable, given the attitude of a narcissistic like people it is unlikely they would voluntarily commit themselves to a psych hospital, meaning that law makers would have to develop another way to identify them, such as better educating gun dealers, law enforcement, and the general populace on how to spot threats.

To help prevent gun violence by the mentally ill the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence has proposed measures to eliminate loopholes and enforce the law already in place. There is unmistakable evidence that reporting people who have a history of mental illness to the NICS will reduce instances of violent crime, like in the state of Connecticut in 2007 where violent crimes by the mentally ill were cut in half (“Mental”). Their current goal aims to increase the number of states that pro-NICS laws and increase the number of mental health records submitted to the NICS; states that submitted the most records were among the best performing in reducing gun violence since the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007 (“Mental”). They go on to suggest that all states should report to the NICS every time an individual is found in court or other lawful authority to be under the guidelines of ineligibility (“Mental”).

The advantages of restricting gun ownership of the mentally ill are obvious and would be effective if implemented properly. However, due to many ingrained laws and rules such as the HIPPA Privacy Rules, it will be difficult to always accurately determine if an individual is mentally ill and who is not. Many others suffering from mental illness go undiagnosed and unnoticed by professionals, family, and law enforcement until it is too late, like in the case of the shooter in Las Vegas. Either compromises must be made between lawmakers and psychiatrists or Americans continue to risk dangerous people gaining access to guns.

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Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder. (2019, August 28). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 14, 2021, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/gun-ownership-for-people-with-mental-disorder/
“Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder.” GradesFixer, 28 Aug. 2019, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/gun-ownership-for-people-with-mental-disorder/
Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/gun-ownership-for-people-with-mental-disorder/> [Accessed 14 May 2021].
Gun Ownership for People with Mental Disorder [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Aug 28 [cited 2021 May 14]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/gun-ownership-for-people-with-mental-disorder/
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