Additional Information and Thoughts to Ponder
The association between violence and untreated psychiatric disorders has been established. Millions of Americans suffer from the severest forms of mental illness, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and studies estimate that about 50% of these individuals are not receiving treatment.
Since the mass closure of state hospitals decades ago, coupled with the deterioration of psychiatric services in most states, the most severely mentally ill are not being appropriately treated. The common denominator in one-half of all mass killings is that the killer has a severe psychiatric disorder that is not being treated. These individuals are usually well-known to the mental health system. Homicide is only one result of untreated mental illness. The mentally ill frequently complete suicide, are left homeless, are victimized, or are incarcerated when psychiatric treatment may have been a better solution.
Will changing mental health gun laws and making mental health databases accessible to law enforcement prevent the most severely untreated mentally ill from taking another person's life? Absolutely not. In this country, if you want a gun, you can get a gun. Those who believe otherwise are simply naïve. A mentally ill individual who is homicidal or suicidal doesn't really care (or sometimes even know) that they may be prohibited from buying or possessing a gun. If he/she cannot buy one from a FFL, there is always the private seller, a friend, or the tried and proven method of stealing a firearm. If someone is truly determined to kill themselves or others and cannot obtain a gun, they will use an alternative method to kill. That is not to say that legislation which is consistent and not a knee-jerk response could make an officer, the mentally ill individual, and others a little safer. Mental illness is indeed an illness and sufferers are entitled to reasonable level of confidentiality related to their disorders. Obviously, there is no quick fix solution to the disarray of current background check laws, confidentiality related to mental health databases, or the country's inability to provide adequate and appropriate treatment for the mentally ill population.