Should She Have Been Able to Buy a Gun?

In January of 2017, a severely mentally ill woman was able to buy a gun, legally.  She had no record – nothing on a background check would have raised a red flag.  She told her ex-husband she'd bought it, and he inferred why.  He managed to get it away from her...that time.  Sometime between February 2017 and April 4, 2017, she acquired another gun, legally.  On April 4, she left her counselor's office, having just been recommended to check herself into inpatient rehab for depression; drove to a location close to her ex's house; and shot herself through the mouth.

That woman was my little sister.

She became, at that moment, a gun death statistic.  A useful tool in the arsenal of deception the left uses to gin up the numbers for "gun violence."

Statistically speaking, suicide by gun, by women, is extremely rare.  Most women choose overdose or poison.  My sister decided on a much more certain outcome.

Should she have been able to buy a gun?  She was 43, highly educated with three degrees (English, chemistry, art, in that order), but, using none of those, she became a successful yoga studio owner.  She had a good life, but also a history of depression and substance abuse.  She had previously done stints in rehab for alcohol and pills, as well as depression.  She was medicated for depression.  None of it helped her in the long run.

Should she have been able to buy a gun?  No.

But she was able to buy not one, but two guns over the course of three months.  HIPAA laws meant that no one could report her mental state.  The counselor who saw her, literally minutes before her suicide, was not able to detain her for installment into inpatient therapy.  She was smart enough not to indicate an immediate threat to herself or others.  She was told to check into rehab for depression but allowed to leave, as if she were exiting a pleasant lunch.  She was a lost cause as far as the law is concerned.  What if her mental state had been homicidal rather than suicidal?  Thankfully, we will never know.

I miss my sister – her beautiful face, her perky personality, her kindness and consideration for others.  But she is gone.  Would different rules or laws have saved her?  In the end, I don't think so; she would have found another way.  This is relevant, because someone intent on causing death, his own or others', will find a way.  Look at the knife crime statistics alone, and it becomes obvious that guns, in and of themselves, are not the problem.  Mental illness is the problem.

So should the mentally ill be prevented from buying guns?  Our knee-jerk reaction is usually a resounding yes, but should it be?

No.

The definition of mental illness in the United States is broad and deep.  It is a multi-billion-dollar industry and can cover anything from temporary sadness to true brain disturbance.  The pharmaceutical profiteers don't really want to solve the problem; they want to make money.  As a result, the definitions of mental illness keep expanding.  If I, having just lost my sister to suicide, had gone to a counselor and asked for help dealing with the grief, would I have been flagged as mentally ill?  I would say no, but surely there are people who would disagree.  They would immediately point to the fact that my sister had committed suicide and use her action to say that, inherently, I too might be a risk.  Whether a risk to myself or others would be irrelevant.

Should I then be prevented from purchasing a gun?  No.

Ours is a terribly over-medicated society, with exaggerated definitions of mental illness.  At the same time, monsters like the Parkland shooter are unquestionably mentally ill and should most definitely not have access to guns.  But the shooter bought his guns just as legally as did my sister.  We need to find a middle ground, but I do not know how we even begin to have the conversation when all the left can do is scream, "Confiscate all guns from everyone!"

Systemic failures in our mental health and legal systems allowed the Parkland monster to do what he did, just as they enabled my sister access to the gun with which she ended her life.  We need to address the failures in both the mental health and the legal systems if we want even a fleeting chance at solving the problems of the mentally ill and preventing massacres like Parkland.

One other thing.  My sister was not just an accomplished and successful woman.  She was also a leftist.  Her best friend attended the Women's March against Trump on January 21, 2017.  Reading through some of her diaries, which came into my possession after her death, shows that she rebelled against the conventional upbringing she was privileged to enjoy.  Our parents were Democrats but lived conservatively.  On Election Day 2016, our father voted for Donald J. Trump (our mother was unable to vote but wanted to vote Trump.)  How much did that leftist orientation, and association, affect her levels of depression?  We cannot know, but I think it had a large impact.  She was unable to realize happiness because she had at some point decided to join the left and be perpetually aggrieved.  How much did leftist indoctrination in the school systems mold her, or the Florida shooter?

We need to have much stricter definitions of mental illness – a rigorous system of checks and balances designed to seek, identify, and separate the truly disturbed from the only somewhat troubled.  A blanket definition of mental illness will never be sufficient to distinguish between the dangerous (to themselves or others) and the benign.  HIPAA laws and willfully ignorant programs like the Broward County "PROMISE" system needs to be overhauled or abandoned completely.  The truly mentally ill need help, but our systems tie our hands unnecessarily.  There should never be another Parkland.  My sister should never have been able to buy a gun.  But for as long as our current systems remain, both were, and are, inevitable.

Confiscating guns, restricting gun purchases by age, et cetera will not work.  It will only punish law-abiding and stable people.  Looking closely at how we define and handle mental illness would be a giant step in the right direction.  Looking closely at how we handle the mentally ill within the legal system would be a giant step in the right direction.  Do we have the courage to do it?

Image: Michael Dorausch via Flickr.

In January of 2017, a severely mentally ill woman was able to buy a gun, legally.  She had no record – nothing on a background check would have raised a red flag.  She told her ex-husband she'd bought it, and he inferred why.  He managed to get it away from her...that time.  Sometime between February 2017 and April 4, 2017, she acquired another gun, legally.  On April 4, she left her counselor's office, having just been recommended to check herself into inpatient rehab for depression; drove to a location close to her ex's house; and shot herself through the mouth.

That woman was my little sister.

She became, at that moment, a gun death statistic.  A useful tool in the arsenal of deception the left uses to gin up the numbers for "gun violence."

Statistically speaking, suicide by gun, by women, is extremely rare.  Most women choose overdose or poison.  My sister decided on a much more certain outcome.

Should she have been able to buy a gun?  She was 43, highly educated with three degrees (English, chemistry, art, in that order), but, using none of those, she became a successful yoga studio owner.  She had a good life, but also a history of depression and substance abuse.  She had previously done stints in rehab for alcohol and pills, as well as depression.  She was medicated for depression.  None of it helped her in the long run.

Should she have been able to buy a gun?  No.

But she was able to buy not one, but two guns over the course of three months.  HIPAA laws meant that no one could report her mental state.  The counselor who saw her, literally minutes before her suicide, was not able to detain her for installment into inpatient therapy.  She was smart enough not to indicate an immediate threat to herself or others.  She was told to check into rehab for depression but allowed to leave, as if she were exiting a pleasant lunch.  She was a lost cause as far as the law is concerned.  What if her mental state had been homicidal rather than suicidal?  Thankfully, we will never know.

I miss my sister – her beautiful face, her perky personality, her kindness and consideration for others.  But she is gone.  Would different rules or laws have saved her?  In the end, I don't think so; she would have found another way.  This is relevant, because someone intent on causing death, his own or others', will find a way.  Look at the knife crime statistics alone, and it becomes obvious that guns, in and of themselves, are not the problem.  Mental illness is the problem.

So should the mentally ill be prevented from buying guns?  Our knee-jerk reaction is usually a resounding yes, but should it be?

No.

The definition of mental illness in the United States is broad and deep.  It is a multi-billion-dollar industry and can cover anything from temporary sadness to true brain disturbance.  The pharmaceutical profiteers don't really want to solve the problem; they want to make money.  As a result, the definitions of mental illness keep expanding.  If I, having just lost my sister to suicide, had gone to a counselor and asked for help dealing with the grief, would I have been flagged as mentally ill?  I would say no, but surely there are people who would disagree.  They would immediately point to the fact that my sister had committed suicide and use her action to say that, inherently, I too might be a risk.  Whether a risk to myself or others would be irrelevant.

Should I then be prevented from purchasing a gun?  No.

Ours is a terribly over-medicated society, with exaggerated definitions of mental illness.  At the same time, monsters like the Parkland shooter are unquestionably mentally ill and should most definitely not have access to guns.  But the shooter bought his guns just as legally as did my sister.  We need to find a middle ground, but I do not know how we even begin to have the conversation when all the left can do is scream, "Confiscate all guns from everyone!"

Systemic failures in our mental health and legal systems allowed the Parkland monster to do what he did, just as they enabled my sister access to the gun with which she ended her life.  We need to address the failures in both the mental health and the legal systems if we want even a fleeting chance at solving the problems of the mentally ill and preventing massacres like Parkland.

One other thing.  My sister was not just an accomplished and successful woman.  She was also a leftist.  Her best friend attended the Women's March against Trump on January 21, 2017.  Reading through some of her diaries, which came into my possession after her death, shows that she rebelled against the conventional upbringing she was privileged to enjoy.  Our parents were Democrats but lived conservatively.  On Election Day 2016, our father voted for Donald J. Trump (our mother was unable to vote but wanted to vote Trump.)  How much did that leftist orientation, and association, affect her levels of depression?  We cannot know, but I think it had a large impact.  She was unable to realize happiness because she had at some point decided to join the left and be perpetually aggrieved.  How much did leftist indoctrination in the school systems mold her, or the Florida shooter?

We need to have much stricter definitions of mental illness – a rigorous system of checks and balances designed to seek, identify, and separate the truly disturbed from the only somewhat troubled.  A blanket definition of mental illness will never be sufficient to distinguish between the dangerous (to themselves or others) and the benign.  HIPAA laws and willfully ignorant programs like the Broward County "PROMISE" system needs to be overhauled or abandoned completely.  The truly mentally ill need help, but our systems tie our hands unnecessarily.  There should never be another Parkland.  My sister should never have been able to buy a gun.  But for as long as our current systems remain, both were, and are, inevitable.

Confiscating guns, restricting gun purchases by age, et cetera will not work.  It will only punish law-abiding and stable people.  Looking closely at how we define and handle mental illness would be a giant step in the right direction.  Looking closely at how we handle the mentally ill within the legal system would be a giant step in the right direction.  Do we have the courage to do it?

Image: Michael Dorausch via Flickr.