Stuck with the “disease” theory for gun violence

President Barack Obama is having what he calls a mental health conference at the White House on Monday, June 3, 2013. This conference is part of Obama’s answer to, and plans for, gun control. Theoretical gun control as real gun control has been shelved in favor of loony control. That’s right, people don’t commit acts of violence because they’re law breakers, no, they commit acts of violence because they’re “sick”.

In Barack Obama’s book, and the National Rifle Association has supplied plenty of assistance in this endeavor, gun violence = “mental illness”, and not making the more obvious inference, people + guns = violence. I think in so doing we’re seriously avoiding the issue of facing the social malaise from which gun violence erupts.

To err, according to an old maxim, is human. I’d go even further and say that not only is to err human, but to have troubles and to find problems is human also. Creativity and the pursuit of solutions is one result of these problems. What isn’t human is mechanical. Given the current definition of “mental illness”, in other words, mental and emotional stability.

Framing the “dialogue” on “mental health”, Obama’s answer to gun violence, there is this list of 23 executive actions his administrations has come up with to combat gun violence. Problem. These 23 actions are primarily about beefing up the mental health system. Again, the unstated equation, unsubstantiated by statistics, is that “mental illness” = gun violence.

I would like to point out, because somehow the point is continually getting lost, that gun violence is a crime. People who kill innocent people break the law in so doing. People do not kill people because they are “sick”. There is not a single “mental disorder” listed in the DSM for which gun violence is mentioned as a symptom.

People labeled with “mental illnesses” are no more responsible for the gun violence in this country than were Jews responsible for the social and economic troubles faced by Germany during the third Reich.  Next question. Why are people in mental health treatment, as a group, being persecuted for the actions of a few lone individuals?

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