Stopping Gun Violence – Lydia Brown writes for The Task Force

This is very good. Starts with demilitarization, which is word I’d like to hear more often from progressive policy types. And of particular interest to this crowd:

3. Do not insert mental illness or disability into gun violence policy-making. 

Linking mental health to gun violence is a myth that must be put to rest, and we are committed to
countering the shaming of people with mental health issues from all sides in the gun debate.

As an intersectional progressive organization, the National LGBTQ Task Force is a strong supporter of
disability rights (including the rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and mental illness, or who
identify as mad), and believes that advocacy around mental health should be led by and for people
with lived experience as consumers and patients.

Policies that single out people with mental illnesses or psychosocial disabilities, such as tying mental
health reform advocacy to gun violence prevention advocacy, stigmatize people with mental illnesses/
psychosocial disabilities as violent, and are not effective. That stigma directly causes many harms
including increased stereotyping, medical discrimination, heightened risk of police violence, and lower
likelihood that people who would like to access supports, services, or treatments will seek them out.
Even mention of mental health reform in the context of gun control and gun violence prevention is
stigmatizing and harmful. Measures such as law enforcement registries of people with mental illness or
who have been institutionalized, increased police access to mental health treatment records, imposition
of a psychological or psychiatric evaluation in the gun purchasing process, or increased funding for
assisted outpatient treatment (a form of coercive treatment) will not curb gun violence but will add to
pervasive stigma, and will establish dangerous precedents on the legal rights of people with disabilities.

As such, we advocate strongly against any use of mental health as a criteria or category related to gun
ownership or gun violence prevention. We recommend that when discussions of mental health arise,
they are referred and moved to other forums unrelated to gun violence prevention because the use
of mental health within this context will generally imply the outdated and mistaken notion that mental
illness and psychiatric disabilities lead to violence, and by extension harm people with disabilities.


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