By: Nicole Casaletto
Gun Background Checks Should Include a Search for Mental Illness
Recently in the news there has been many shooting involving the use of guns. In the United States, in the Bill of Rights, Second Amendment it states "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed". Basically any citizen has the right to own guns and other weapons with the exception of a license. This is a fair law however it can be dangerous. It is mandatory for a background check towards the person perusing a license but that background check does not review enough information. Based on most of the current crimes in the recent news, most of the suspects have either a mental illness or psychological issue. If one of these mentally sick criminals with a clean record were to buy a weapon, they would easily get away with it. However, if there were to be a background check that checks more personal information on the client there would most likely be a decrease in incidents involving fired arms. Some may say an interrogation of the consumer is a violation of one's freedoms which in some cases may be but the life's of innocent citizens comes first. Also a gun and other weapons have the potential to cause much damage therefore it should be earned to be allowed to bear arms. The background checks should include family history of mental illness, and any prior or signs of a mental illness. If this were included in the background check of the gun consumer then mentally unstable people will lose their gun privileges which creates a safer environment.
Sandy Hook Shooting
Adam Lanza, known as the Sandy Hook shooter suffered from a servere mental illness. Lanza had obsessive compulsive disorders and showed interest in mass shootings. Lanza seeked help in past for mental illness but refused to take medicine which would help cope with his issues. "The shooter disliked birthdays, Christmas and holidays. He would not allow his mother to put up a Christmas tree," said the reporter. On Dec. 14, 2012, Lanza brought more than 30 pounds of weapons and ammunition. Lanza shot his way entering Sandy Hook school. He killed the Dawn Hochsprung, who was the school principle and the school psychologist, Mary Sherlach. He killed 20 children and teachers with a rifle, and a semi-automatic weapon which fired 154 bullets within five minutes.
The state of Connecticut was the first state to add a mental health check to the background check to a gun license. A major aspect to this decision was the Sandy Hook shooting which occurred in Connecticut. As of June 20th 2014, "Connecticut added mental health records to its background check system, people who had been disqualified from owning a gun showed a 53 drop, not a six percent drop, in their likelihood of committing a violent crime"(What We Actually Know About the Connections Between Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and Gun Violence, Beckett). This law has already made a positive effect on the state of Connecticut, which indicates all states across the country should make this change.
Percentage of Criminals with Mental Illness
- "Approximately 10 percent of US homicides are committed by untreatable severely mentally ill people
- Chances that a perpetrator of a mass shooting displayed signs I'd mental illness prior to the crime: 1 in 2
- Between 1998 and 2006, the number of mentally ill people incarcerated in federal, state, and local prisons and jails more than quadrupled to 1,264,300.
- Since 2006, mental-illness rates in some county jails have increased by another 50 perecent."
The Amendment XXVIII would solve the constitutional issue on bearing armed weapons with a mental illness. When the background checks includes a search for mental issues, surrounding citizens benefit. This is because the people who have a mental disability will no longer be legal to own a gun and this decreases the risk of one to cause a shooting since they possess no weapons. This amendment could causes some to say they are losing there freedom privileges and just because they have a disability they lose their rights. However this is not the case, allowing this to be an amendment would indicate a safer environment which is more important. Also, since people with mental disabilities are illegal to have a gun license, this could increase the amount of guns purchased on the black market. If one buys an illegal gun however they will be charged which is better than legally allow a sociopath to possess a gun. To enforce this amendment would not be a large cost. In order to follow through on this, psychologic test would be necessary on the background check. This indicates that psychologist would have to be hired and payed regularly.