The National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre called for armed guards at every school, and an “active mental illness database” to prevent shootings in today’s NRA Sandy Hook press conference. His strongest focus was on promoting armed defense–”The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun,” he said after explaining that no one at Sandy Hook Elementary School could stop gunman Adam Lanza because they weren’t armed. But he also slipped in several other arguments, including mention of the fact that there’s no “active national database of the mentally ill”…This isn’t exactly what I meant when I said that we should take a closer look at mental health care in light of Sandy Hook.
LaPierre admonished the media for promoting violent entertainment and trying to conceal the “callous, corrupt and corrupting shadow industry that sells, and sows, violence against its own people” before mentioning the idea of a national database of
How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame — from a national media machine that rewards them with the wall-to-wall attention and sense of identity that they crave–while provoking others to try to make their mark? A dozen more killers? A hundred? More? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?
The Washington Post has already poked holes in his logic, pointing out that 38 states already have their own active mental illness database–and that hasn’t prevented the escalation of violent shootings like the ones in Newtown and Aurora this year. (For what it’s worth, the UPI also pointed out that armed guards were present at Columbine High School, where one teacher and 12 students were killed by two of their classmates). According to their article, “The Gun Control Act of 1968 prohibits gun sales to individuals who have been committed to a mental institution or ‘adjudicated as a mental defective,’” but it’s fairly ineffective due to problems with mental health reporting, and the fact that the federal government can’t demand that state agencies report data, or how they do it.
The NRA mental illness database idea is impractical, but it’s also just not the solution to a mental health care system that doesn’t offer adequate support to parents and kids who need it. Registering names onto a national database hardly helps families who can’t afford mental health care, and it won’t provide support for individuals who suffer behavioral or mental health issues and don’t know where to go for help.