Recommendation For Gun Control And Mental Illness Policy 1
Recommendation for Gun Control and Mental Illness Policy
There is a great number of components that can safely interact among Americans, especially in terms of gun matters. Instances of random shooting or cases when one person ends up his or her life by shooting oneself, deprives someone of life or causes physical harm to any human becomes a very serious concern for many people. On the one hand, the first thing that comes to mind is firearm dealers, the state and the federal government among others. On the other hand, a big question is who the owner of the firearm is. It has been a common belief that people who kill and maim are mentally ill, but that is not entirely true.
A number of deadly mass shootings has been observed in the recent times and has left the public terrified and the government concerned. A good example of such may include the occurrence that took place in Washington DC in the navy yard. This gave the Americans quite a new approach to killings and such kind of incidences. A renowned professor of law from the University of Virginia, Professor Richard Bonnie brought a totally new perspective to this common experience. It is important to note that the previous approach that put an undue emphasis to the mentally unwell was almost fruitless. This professor communicated his findings as he was serving in a consortium of mental and public experts that was working to respond to the increased gun violence (Webster & Vernick, 2013).
After the shooting at sandy hook, the professor testified before several panels including meeting with the Vice President Joe Biden. He pointed out that there ought to be a well-coordinated effort from the federal and the state governments to ensure that gun purchases are made after a comprehensive check. This should involve a clear policy backed by passing of legislation(s) for it to be successful. Additionally, there should not be put much emphasis on the mentally unwell. The previous strategy to keep guns away from the mentally unwell has not improved the situation. As a matter of fact, around 95% of shootings are done by people who are not mentally ill.
The government in conjunctions with the firearm dealers should work to ensure that there is adequate background check on an individual before a gun is sold to him or her. Guns should not be sold to people who have been convicted of violent crimes, brandishing guns or firing recklessly at people. This is contrary to present or recent times, when gun sale was only restricted to people convicted of domestic violence. In other worlds, the police and state should ensure that guns are not owned by people who have shown eminent risk of violence even if they are mentally well. Also, the police should be mandated to retrieve firearms held by such individuals as it is in Indiana.
The responsibility also goes to the national assembly. It should pass and adopt legislations that will ensure that some places such as the Rhode Island and also some mental institutions pass the records of their convicts and the mentally ill to the FBI and national firearms background check system. This will be very crucial and will ensure that the records of those among them who should not hold guns are passed to NICS, that is, the National Instant Background Check System. From the perspective of the mental health institutions, they should do so in a manner that does not seem to be direct stigmatization of the mentally ill. It should be done in a way that will not discourage the mentally ill from accessing health care. The department of justice and the national assembly should assist in setting up legal frameworks that will ensure that everything is done in a legal manner so that no ones rights are violated in the process.
The output of the above efforts should be taken into consideration as these efforts are all purposed to reduce the instances when people cause death or injury to others by using guns. The advantage of the above stated approach is that it is more integrated than the previous one. For this reason, it is likely to produce better results if properly implemented.
In the short run, there will be fewer guns in the wrong hands. Unlike the previous approach that emphasized on the mentally ill and those convicted of domestic violence, the new approach will focus on everyone convicted of crime and showing violent behavior. Given that the latter group contributes 95% of people who shoot others, the number of people who are killed will greatly reduce. Additionally the new approach tightens the noose on the mentally ill. In the current setting, there is a great deal of people who are mentally ill but are not included into the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). For this reason, they are currently eligible to buy guns, despite their mental health status (John F. Kennedy School of Government. Harvard University. Graduate School of Public Administration, 1940).
Additionally, in some places such as the Rhode Island, the mentally ill are still eligible to buy or retain their guns. This is because their names and records are not registered in the NICS. When the new approach is adopted, the federal government will allocate funds to states such as the Rhode Island and also all of the mental hospitals so that they can pass their records to NICS. This will happen in the short run. Over the same period, the firearm dealers will have to update their systems. Additionally, the department of justice and the national assembly will work on the legal frameworks that will ensure that the constitution is not violated in the whole process. Such might include laws that will ensure that the details of the mental health passed to the FBI do not violate patients personal rights of privacy.
It is also important to note that it is not the Rhode Island alone that does not pass its mental health records to the FBI. There are fourteen other states that are not doing so. So the department of justice has to ensure that the passing of this information is done in a manner that cannot be challenged in the court due to its importance to the safety of civilians.
The police can continue confiscating guns among all people who are not eligible to own them. In the medium and the long run, NICS will have information about all people who should not own guns for whichever reason. These records will be passed to all firearm sellers using regulations not to sell guns to people who are not eligible to have them. So in the medium and the long run, fewer guns will be in the wrong hands. For this reason, they will not be abused and ultimately, there will be fewer instances of people shooting others.
The government, especially with the assistance of the police, reserves the right to confiscate any firearm owned by any citizen whose continued possession of a gun is a threat to the public safety. For instance, presently, a person can be eligible to hold a firearm, but in the nearest future, he or she starts exhibiting signs of violence. There are many reasons that can cause such behavior. It might include mental illness, drugs and substantial abuse or even alcohol abuse. The states of Indiana and Connecticut have mandated the police to file a petition with the states attorney against such individuals for the retrieval of their guns. This will also be replicated in all states according to the new model.
There are many outreach programs that can be run to keep the general public safe. Various consortiums set to deal with street shootings have admitted that keeping people safe is a crucial public health policy. The government has to ensure that it provides mental health among those who are willing and those who can afford. If a mentally ill person fails to get medical help on the basis that they are not willing, they might endanger the lives of the citizens. On the one hand, such people might have guns that can used against people. On the other hand, if the record of such people does not reach the NICS. This means that such people can freely purchase guns that can pose a great threat to the civilians.
Another outreach activity that is important involves counseling and peer support that will ensure that fewer people can get hooked by drugs or engaged in some criminal activities. Research shows that up to 40% of violent gun incidences occur due to drug and alcohol abuse. A drug addict looks mentally sound and can freely purchase or have a gun. However, this group is very mentally unstable and can turn violent with the slightest provocation or without provocation at all. For this reason, the government will engage high schools and prevent teenagers from starting using drugs. Additionally, the government can also work to cut the supply of drugs to schools. Research shows that over 60%of teenagers get exposed to marijuana while still at high school. Another often ignored cause of gun incidences is alcohol. Alcohol use makes the consumer irrational, especially after the prolonged consumption. A drunkard can get involved into the activities that he or she would avoid if not under the influence of alcohol. The government has to integrate a psychological support and treatment system in the public health sector. This will ensure that people who are drug or alcohol addicts receive some sort of support and assistance. Additionally, the system should also work to assist those who are not yet addicted to avoid drugs and alcohol. This can greatly reduce gun attacks.
The federal and state governments have to continue funding consortiums that are set to respond to instances of shooting. The national assembly should also work to ensure that their recommendations are evaluated and the helpful once adopted. The other outreach activity that the government will be engaged in includes funding states such as the Rhode Island and others to pass their records of the mentally ill to the FBI. This will ensure that such people will not have access to guns and hence will not easily cause harm to the public or themselves.
The final and the most important outreach that the government and everyone should be engaged in is teaching the citizens to have even temperaments. 95% of people who shoot and kill innocent civilians are not mentally ill. Some of them do not do it because of drugs but they do it because of anger, disappointment among other reasons. Some other people do it to scare people while still others are robbers. A good number of people need to be taught how to have even temperament. People need to understand how to handle their emotions and not settle minor scores using guns to ensure that they do not cause harm to others (Hupe & Hill, 2012).
The above mentioned points are the outreach activities that have been undertaken on a minor scale but can be amplified to make the streets safer. The cost of doing this could amount to millions of dollars, but is worth so. Some of them have a great capacity to reduce instances of shooting among people who are neither mentally ill, nor criminals. Because of their clean records, they purchase firearms easily but still cause harm to innocent people.
The program can and should be formulated as soon as possible. Although it requires much time to be developed for it to function well, it has to be done fast to save the general public and make the streets and other public areas safe. The legislation part should be finalized as soon as possible. Presumably, it should take not more than one year. This will see the states authorized to pass their records to the FBI; the police empowered to file a complaint to the states attorney concerning the misconduct or eminent misconduct of a firearm holder.
Still the FBI should be able to update their records in not more than 2 years so that they have an updated NICS, which should be circulated to all firearm dealers with guidelines on the question of who to sell guns to. This should happen in the same period of not more than 2 years.
From this time, the police can start recalling and collecting guns from anyone who was previously sold a gun, but does not meet the NICS requirements. This policy should function to ensure that there are no guns in the unintended hands. The government can enhance its outreach programs to ensure that all mentally ill people are treated and their statuses are updated with the FBI. The government and all other players will then enhance its entire outreach programs, given that nearly all convicted felons and mentally ill people will have no firearms.
This should work to ensure that the healthy and mentally sound people do not use their guns for improper purposes. Additionally, national assembly in collaboration with the department of justice should work together to ensure that people who shoot others are punished according to the law. This should work as a deterrent so that all the firearm holders are responsible for their guns. This should take one year at most.
For any program to be really effective and responsive, it has to run smoothly and show results as soon as possible. This program as seen in the discussion above may require up to three years for its benefits to be fully realized. However, some results can be or should be realized within the first year. For instance, after the FBI updates its records and NICS updates its database, the number of the mentally ill people who possess guns should reduce. So by the end of the second year, 5% of gun incidences in the US that are caused by the mentally ill should reduce. On the other hand, it is estimated that about 20% of gun shootings are done by people who are neither mentally ill nor convicted felons. After the government carries an outreach program sensitizing people on anger management, the number of people who settle their personal scores using guns will reduce. So by the end of the third year, 20 % of gun shootings should greatly reduce. The percentage will also reduce due to the deterrent factor of the proper legislation that will ensure that people who shoot others are punished.
By the end of the second year, the police will have established the number of people who might have bought weapons, but are not eligible to do so. This will be very easy, especially after the NICS database is updated. At the end of the second year, the police will have repossessed all of such guns hence reducing the instances in which people are shot. Finally, there are people who own guns, but not for any other reason than such that they are criminals and use them to terrorize citizens. Once proper legislation is passed, such people will not get away with their actions. Instead, such people will be deterred in the future. This will make streets safer given that the criminals will be punished and will not be eligible to purchase guns after until they are released from the correction institutions.
San Francisco is a very important crime hotspot in the United States. In the year of 2013, it has experienced the highest crime rate. The murder rate numbered 69 people in every 100,000 people. Rapes and robberies numbered 108 and 3500 respectively. This is a city that requires very effective intervention in order to protect the civilians and their properties. It is very important to note that these incidences took place because of the gun use. Research shows that most criminals arrested and convicted were doing it not for the first time. More than 98% were mentally sound individuals without any illness records, while around 60 % were drug users. This means that gun laws in this city need to be reviewed. Additionally, the topic of gun safety here should emphasize on the mentally ill but their healthy counterparts (Denney & Allred, 2007).
For the above mentioned reasons, this program should be tried and tested in San Francisco. This will be very crucial as the state government needs to test its efficacy and practically evaluate its limitation. Additionally, this will be very crucial as it will be quite easy to break the whole program into practical steps that can be reproduced in the other cities in the United States to keep the public safe. This program is more comprehensive and able to identify and solve problems that the previous gun regulations have not solved.
It is very important to note that the gravity of crime and its effects would greatly reduce in case the gun laws are strict. The level of violent criminal activity greatly reduces. Murder, robbery and rape would reduce if guns are removed from the scenery. The class of crime that would remain would be theft. Due to the integrated nature of this program, other gun incidences that are associated with people being unable to control their emotions or making wrong decisions due to alcohol and drugs would also reduce. In addition to the organized crimes, this program will also take care of more instantaneous crimes caused by lack of emotional control such as settling of minor scores using guns. This will ultimately make the streets of San Francisco safer. Additionally, this program will also help reduce such instances in the whole of the US once the program passes piloting and is implemented in all cities.
In conclusion, human beings are complex beings. Any program meant to govern them and their behaviors should not be simple but comprehensive. A simple program to reduce gun incidences such as the existing gun laws cannot be and have been ineffective. The previous models laid much emphasis on mental illness and domestic violence when it comes to sale of guns. However, these two groups of people account for less that 10 % of the shootings in the US. Hence, a more complex model that is based on the facts on the ground is very important. A group that includes convicted felons, people with psychological issues, drugs and alcohol addicts as well as other people that have shown signs of violence should not have guns. Additionally, there are people who have been previously fit to have guns but have now become unfit due to any of the above reasons. Guns should be taken away from such people until the time when they are well again. The recommended program has all these factors catered for and is able to respond to all of them appropriately. It will work to correct the mistakes of the previous model and is still flexible enough to be corrected and developed further to cater for the future changes.