Guns are a touchy subject in America. So is mental illness. It’s hard to talk about either one in polite company. That being said, watching people suddenly characterize *all* mass shootings as a mental illness problem is disconcerting, to say the least. It unfairly stigmatizes those of us with diagnosable mental illness as murderers-in-waiting, just biding our time until we find a “reason” to go out and shoot up the Wal-Mart.
Background checks won’t find out who has a mental illness and who doesn’t. That information is in our medical records, protected by HIPPA. Background checks may find out if someone has a history of interactions with law enforcement. They may also find out who has a civil commitment to a mental hospital in their records, but not all of us with mental illness have been committed by a court.
After my second hospitalization for suicidal thinking, my husband removed all his guns from the house. After my first one, he had locked them all away, but it was easy for me to find the key. So they all were sent to my in-laws’ house, and there as far as I know they stay. That was hard on my husband, who had been brought up with guns all his life and loved to hunt. But once he realized that they were too easy for me to access, he did the smart thing and got them out of my reach. But he was protecting me from hurting myself, not other people.
What needs to change in America are people’s hearts. That is not a cop-out statement. It’s not hard to ignore God when you’ve never heard of him. It’s not hard to shoot children when you’ve been taught that human life is worthless. And it’s not hard to lash out in anger in truly horrific ways when you believe that you will not encounter any kind of final judgement. I pray we will have a spiritual revival in America that changes us as individuals and as a society.