Posts Tagged ‘mental illness’

Why Universal Background Checks Cannot Keep Guns Out Of The Hands Of People With Mental Disabilities – – What Can

Sunday, October 23rd, 2016

by  Elliot Fineman
CEO – Founder
National Gun Victims Action Council 

 

Keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental disabilities is a goal supported by everyone from Gun Violence Prevention Groups (GVP) to the NRA and gun lobby and gun owners.

 

But they differ on how this can be done. GVPs believe—fervently—that Universal Background Checks (UBC)—a background check for every gun sold whether by a dealer, in a private sale, over the Internet or by mail order—will keep guns out of dangerous hands. The gun lobby opposes UBCs and advocates “fixing the mental health system.” “If we had no mentally ill people, the problem would be solved.” But this is a red herring.

 

The position ignores all the developed countries with the same percentage of people with mental disabilities as the U.S. but not the same gun violence. Why? They have sane gun laws preventing gun proliferation and people with mental disabilities having access to them.

 

Even if we had UBC the problem of keeping guns out of the hands of mentally disabled people would not be solved. Why? Because the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)—the database maintained by the FBI intended to flag prohibited purchasers when they try to buy guns— is missing 93% of the mental health records.

 

How many mental health records should be in NICS?

 

Psychologist Martha Stout, a clinical instructor at Harvard medical school, indicates in her book “The Sociopath Next Door” that four percent of the U.S. population consists of “conscienceless” sociopaths—12 million Americans. Based on data provided by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 28.7% of American adults—66.5 million people—have been diagnosed and live with mental illnesses including major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar and anxiety disorder.

 

The June 30, 2016 FBI Uniform Crime Report shows  a total of14.8 million prohibited purchasers in the NICS Database of which 4.5 million are in the category of Adjudicated Mental Health (Mentally Disabled). But the NICS database should have 66.5 million mentally disabled prohibited purchasers entered—not 4.5 million—62 million records (93%) are missing.

 

Almost Empty Glass Clip Art at Clker.com - vector clip art onlin

 

Clearly, with 62 million mental health records missing, UBC cannot possibly keep guns out of the hands of people with mental disabilities. Eighty-five percent of all mass gun killers since 1982 passed their background check; all but 12 shooters in over 81 mass shootings were legal gun owners

 

Recent high profile murderers confirm this dangerous situation is ongoing. The Orlando, Dallas and Baton Rouge shooters and the Tucson, Aurora, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, Planned Parenthood, Chattanooga, Kalamazoo, Roanoke, Umpqua, and Lafayette shooters all passed their background checks.

 

THERE IS A WAY TO KEEP GUNS OUT OF THE HAND OF MENTALLY DISABLED PEOPLE. IT IS CONSTITUTIONAL AND WE DO IT TODAY. I WILL DISCUSS IT IN MY NEXT UPDATE.

 

Elliot Fineman
CEO – Founder
National Gun Victims Action Council
www.gunvictimsaction.org/donate
www.gunvictimsaction.org

People With Mental Illness Buying Guns? The NRA is Okay with It

Saturday, October 15th, 2016

It is no secret that many mass shooters have severe psychiatric illnesses at the time of their crimes. From Virginia Tech, Aurora and Tucson, to the Navy Yard, Umpqua, Roanoke and Orlando shootings, most shooters exhibited clear mental illness before their deeds.

 

What is a secret is that while the gun lobby says the “real problem” behind gun violence is mental illness, it actually works–stealthily- behind the scenes to restore the “gun rights” of people with severe mental illness.

 

 

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After the Virginia Tech murders, NRA lobbyists were successful in pushing through a provision in the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] 2007 amendments that allows the restoration of gun rights of mentally ill people if they “will not be likely to act in a manner dangerous to public safety” and if “the granting of the relief would not be contrary to the public interest.”

 

The NRA, in a newsletter to its followers, did not hide the fact that the maneuver was a con job that looked like tightened gun access but actually did the opposite–improved access to guns for people with mental illness.

 

“In several ways this bill is better for gun owners than current law,” read the NRA website. “Under H.R. 2640, certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm. Examples are adjudications that have expired or been removed, or commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required. Also excluded are federal decisions about a person’s mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent.”

 

Thanks to the gun lobby maneuver, Sam French, a Virginian who was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility and told authorities he heard voices, had his right to possess firearms reinstated and his gun returned after a short court hearing in 2009. Why should hearing voices intrude on his “gun rights”?

 

Another man who was involuntarily hospitalized in a psychiatric facility because of a meth addiction also had his “gun rights” restored, reported the Oregonian. He soon had a “new XDM Springfield handgun at his side,” wrote the paper. Nice.

 

Reject These Gun Lobby Lies

 

The U.S. gun violence epidemic which takes 90 lives a day, 31 from homicides, is predicated on key gun lobby lies. “Criminals don’t follow laws,” says the lobby despite the fact that 85 percent of mass shooters since 1981 have been legal gun owners not criminals.

 

“It takes a good guy to stop a bad guy” says the lobby despite the fact that 18 law enforcement officers were shot by legal gun owners (not “criminals”) in one week this summer.

 

And finally, “the real problem is mental illness” says the lobby even as it helps people with mental illness own guns. But of course every country in the world has mental illness–rich and poor, industrialized and developing. What they do not have are massacres like Virginia Tech, Aurora, Umpqua or Orlando because they don’t have the gun lobby arming their mentally ill population.

 

Ten Years Ago Today in Gun Violence

Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

 

Do you know what you were doing ten years ago? The families of these victims do. Ten years ago in Chicago, Starkesia Reed, 14 was killed when a stray bullet from an AK-47 assault rifle went through the window of her family’s house. She was eating an orange and getting ready for school. Eleven days later and a few blocks away, Siretha White, 10, was killed when a stray bullet went through the window of her aunt’s home. She was attending a surprise birthday party for her cousin.

 

The Chicago innocent bystanders were just the start, ten years ago. The same month, Seattle had its second worst massacre in 20 years when Aaron Kyle Huff, draped in bandoliers of shotgun shells, killed six at a Seattle party. Police later found an assault rifle and several large-capacity ammunition magazines in his vehicle as well. Huff’s two weapons–a 12-gauge Winchester Defender shotgun with an extended magazine and a pistol grip and a .40-caliber Ruger semiautomatic handgun–with which some victims were shot twice, were legal. So legal, they were returned to him by police after a prior shooting arrest in 2000! He had “rights”!

 

Days earlier, Jennifer San Marco, a person with psychosis who passed her background check, killed six at a postal facility and a neighbor in Goleta, California with a gun she bought at a pawn shop. She was known for shouting furiously to herself, peeling off her clothes in random parking lots, kneeling in prayer by the roadside and ordering food at restaurants and bolted out the door before eating it—but she was a legal gun owner.

 

Why has nothing changed for ten years? Because there is no gun violence, no massacre that will move the 34 senators from pro-gun states to allow gun safety legislation. After the Sandy Hook massacre, federal lawmakers would not even elevate gun trafficking to a felony. After the San Bernardino massacre, federal lawmakers refused to close the Terror Watch List loophole—placing the “gun rights” of possible terrorists above the right of citizens to not be shot at an office party! And of course, no gun legislation was passed after the shooting of Rep. Giffords.

 

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Money, however, talks. It took about a week for Indiana lawmakers to change their mind about the Religious Freedom Restoration Act when Apple, American Airlines, the NCAA college sports league and others threatened to pull their convention business. Now companies like PayPal and Wells Fargo, sport associations like the NBA and entertainers are exerting a similar effect on states with “bathroom” laws.

 

There is no question the pro-gun movement is on the wrong side of history. Only 18 percent of millennials even own guns. But at 30,000 gun deaths in the US a year—10,000 homicides—can we afford to wait for the pro-gun movement to fade away? Learn what you can do now on our website http://gunvictimsaction.org

 

 

 

 

2016 New Year’s Resolutions for the NRA

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

NRA Resolutions
January 2, 2016
 

  1. We will stop referring to ourselves as a “civil rights” organization defending “human rights.” It is a sacrilege to every victim of civil or human rights violations.
  2. (more…)

WHICH HAS MORE GUN VIOLENCE–A COUNTRY WHERE ONLY CRIMINALS HAVE GUNS OR A COUNTRY WHERE BOTH CRIMINALS AND LAW-ABIDING CITIZENS HAVE GUNS?

Sunday, October 25th, 2015

 

by Elliot Fineman

CEO – Founder

National Gun Victims Action Council

 

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Whenever laws are proposed that would regulate guns, the NRA and pro-gun extremists argue that only law-abiding citizens will be affected–not criminals. If tighter laws are passed, we will be living in a dangerous society and destined to be victims of gun violence because only criminals will have guns.

 

The facts are just the opposite. We would have a far safer society if only “criminals” had guns. How do we know this?

 

There is a country where only “criminals” have guns. In England, handguns have been outlawed—no one can own them. The only guns private citizens can own are long guns (the kind used for hunting or marksmanship that only shoot 2 bullets at a time) or collector guns.

 

Criminals, of course, can illegally get all the guns they want. They can get semi-automatic handguns that shoot 32 bullets in under 15 seconds—like the Tucson murderer. They can get assault rifles that shoot 50 to 100 bullets per minute like the Aurora murderer.

 

Demographically, England is similar to the US. It has serious drug and gang problems, poverty, mental illness and immigration issues. English citizens hunt, collect guns and enjoy the sport of marksmanship. Because this is a country where only criminals have guns–even police do not carry guns–shouldn’t there be rampant gun homicides and gun crime assaults? England has 45 gun homicides per year.

 

Since the US is 5 times the size of England–300 million vs. 60 million–we should expect 5 times the number of gun homicides or 225 a year. Instead, the US has an astounding 10,000 gun homicides a year because not only do criminals have all the guns they want, so do law-abiding citizens.

 

Clearly it is “law-abiding citizens” with guns, not criminals, who are committing the great majority of US gun homicides. In fact, each of the recent high-profile gun massacres (Tucson, Aurora, Charleston, Umpqua, Roanoke, Chattanooga) was committed by a “law-abiding citizen” who was a legal gun owner—none were from the hand of a criminal with an illegal gun.

 

The NRA and pro-gun extremists use the threat that “only the criminals will have guns” to fight gun laws. The truth is the US would have a fraction of the gun violence it now has if “only the criminals had guns” and there is every point in passing gun regulations.

 

www.gunvictimsaction.org/donate

www.gunvictimsaction.org

 

Sign our petition telling President Obama to declare a national state of emergency.

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No Massacre Will Pry Congress Out of the Gun Lobby’s Hands–That’s Why We Launched This Petition

Monday, October 5th, 2015

 

If the shooting of one of their own–Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords–and the murder of 20 six-year-olds did not move lawmakers, certainly the dead at Umpqua Community College last week will not pry Congress out of the gun lobby’s cold dead hands.

 

After the first graders and six adults were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School, federal lawmakers still thought universal background checks and an assault weapons ban were too extreme. Even an amendment “to increase public safety by punishing and deterring firearms trafficking” was too extreme for lawmakers and was defeated after Sandy Hook.

 

The Oregon shooter, like 10 recent mass shooters, was a legal gun owner amassing an arsenal of lethal weapons as the gun lobby says he has the “right” to do. Like the Sandy Hook murderer, the Oregon shooter also had a gun extremist for a mother who took him shooting. Nice. She was reportedly obsessed with the Second Amendment and government “confiscation” of guns.

 

At NGVAC, where we have lost loved ones because of loose gun laws, we deplore two lies that surface after every mass shooting–that the “real problem” is mental illness and that “no laws” would have stopped the bloodshed. Every country in the world has mental illness but they don’t have weekly shootings and–every developed country has enacted laws to prevent such mass shootings.

 

 

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There has not been one mass shooting in the United Kingdom since strong gun laws were passed after a shooting in Dunblane in 1996 in which 16 children and one teacher died. The same is true in Australia where strong gun laws were passed after a 1996 mass shooting at a popular tourist site in Port Authur in which 35 people were killed and 23 wounded. Before the Australia laws there had been 13 mass shootings; afterwards none.

 

As our military installations, media members, churches, movie theaters, restaurants, stores, offices, factories, schools, colleges, national parks and US highways are under siege and Congress won’t act, we have asked President Obama to declare a state of emergency. He declared a state of emergency in 2009 when the H191 flu hospitalized 20,000 people and killed 1,000. Guns cause 10,000 homicides, 70,000 injuries, 18,000 suicides and 2,000 accidental deaths a year in the US.

 

A state of emergency can be declared when the government lacks the procedures and capacity to address an unchecked natural or man-made public health epidemic. Clearly, that describes the US situation now as everyone waits for the next Aurora, Charleston, Chattanooga, Roanoke or Roseburg.

 

PLEASE SIGN THE NGVAC PETITION FOUND HERE.

 

 

 

 

10KILLERS

 

 

 

Will On Camera Assassinations Be a Tipping Point? Or Is More Gun Bloodshed Necessary?

Wednesday, September 16th, 2015

 

Reporter and cameraman gunned down during live newscast? Beloved professor killed by another professor in his campus office? Another day of gun bloodshed in the US.

 

After mass shootings the media “play by play” is always the same. First the nation is horrified, then the suspect’s “mental illness” is examined, then memorial services are held and then, after self-muting for three days, gun advocates surface to say “no laws” could have prevented the carnage because the “real problem” is mental illness.

 

Wrong on all counts. First, the Charleston, Chattanooga and Roanoke suspects were legal gun owners despite clear mental problems. The gun lobby loves to say criminals don’t follow gun laws but the Virginia Tech, Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood, Navy Yard, NIU and Santa Barbara shooters–and most other mass gun murderers– followed the letter of the law.

 

Secondly, other countries have as many mentally ill people as we do—but they have gun laws. After the Dunblane school massacre in the United Kingdom in 1996 and the Port Arthur massacre in Australia the same year, laws were passed that prevented future shootings. They learned their lesson. By way of contrast, after the US’s Red Lake massacre in 2005, laws were passed in the US to make it illegal to sue the gun industry.

 

In response to the gun lovers who like to argue “should knives, hammers and cars be outlawed too,” no one has ever wounded 82 people in seconds with a knife as the Aurora killer did with a gun. On the same day as the Sandy Hook murders, a man in China stabbed the same number of school children and none died. It’s the guns, stupid.

 

Many do not realize or can’t believe that the NRA works for the “gun rights” of convicted felons, domestic abusers and people under orders of protection because they have gun rights too. Most people under orders of protection are men, of course and eight women were shot by their husbands in the last week of August—six died.

 

Right after the Aurora movie theater shootings we, at NGVAC, were alerted by an ex-wife to a convicted domestic abuser who was collecting guns and military weapons, which he was legally banned from doing, and donning body armor. We were told by two police departments the possible mass-shooter-in-the-making had the “right” to his arsenal and society would just have to wait until he killed before they could do anything. What?

 

August’s on camera murders, July’s movie and military murders or June’s church murders may not have been a tipping point–but the whole nation knows one is coming. One of these days, one too many gun victim families will ask why their loved one was killed and why their lawmakers are serving the NRA not them.

 

 

 

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Let People Just Out of Psychiatric Hospitals Have Their Guns Says NRA

Tuesday, August 25th, 2015

 

This summer’s bloodshed from people with mental illness attacking churches, military installations, movie theaters and this week a Manhattan federal building has not stopped the NRA’s guns-for-everyone-and-anyone agenda. The NRA-backed Mental Health and Safe Communities Act would restore the “gun rights” of someone who has been hospitalized for mental illness automatically–as soon as he is discharged. Why shouldn’t someone on heavy medication considered a threat to himself and others two days ago get his lethal weapons back the minute he leaves the hospital? Currently, someone who’s been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital must petition for the restoration of his “gun rights” or wait for a court or administrative body to restore them.

 

The NRA-backed legislation is reminiscent of H.R. 2640–The National Instant Criminal Background Check System Improvement Amendments Act which the NRA supported after the Virginia Tech massacre. Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech killer, was found “mentally ill and in need of hospitalization” by the New River Valley Community Services Board but bought legal guns and ammunition anyway.

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Like the Mental Health and Safe Communities Act, HR 2640 sounded like it would make communities safer. But on its website the NRA wrote the bill was actually “better for gun owners than current law,” because “certain types of mental health orders will no longer prohibit a person from possessing or receiving a firearm,” like adjudications that have expired or been removed and “commitments from which a person has been completely released with no further supervision required.” Also excluded, said the NRA, “are federal decisions about a person’s mental health that consist only of a medical diagnosis, without a specific finding that the person is dangerous or mentally incompetent.”

 

Why does the NRA promote “gun rights” for people with mental illness? For the same reason it promotes “gun rights” for convicted felons, suspected domestic abusers and people under orders of protection. The NRA does not believe in “gratuitously tak[ing] away the rights of people because when you begin taking away the rights of people that you don’t like, that’s the slippery slope,” said NRA lobbyist Marion P. Hammer. “Don’t like?”

 

NRA cartoons - Google Search

 

That is why after the murder of nine Charleston church worshippers by a suspect with white supremacy attitudes and clear mental problems, the NRA website ignored the massacre in favor of telling its followers—the “largest gun grab in American history” was underway. “The Obama social security system plans to deny 4.2 million people the Right to Keep and Bear Arms,” screamed the NRA referring to a possible White House move to deny guns to Social Security beneficiaries ruled incompetent to manage their own pension or disability payments. Why should people who cannot manage their own affairs and likely have dementia be denied guns? Persecution!

 

This summer was rife with bloodshed from mentally ill people who should have never been able to buys guns–but shootings at Aurora, Tucson, the Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Fort Hood and Northern Illinois University also underscore the dangers. Is the NRA serious?

 

Do you work for or patronize any of these top companies? Tell them to get off the sidelines and take a stand for gun safety with these pe-written tweets and posts.

A Note to Our Supporters About Our Tax-Exempt Status

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

 

 

National Gun Victims Action Council (NGVAC) is a non-profit network of 14 million gun victims, survivors, the faith community and ordinary people leveraging their buying power to change America’s gun laws. We are indebted to our supporters for their outstanding energy, passion and commitment to gun safety.

 

A few months ago it was announced through the gun advocacy press that we had “lost” our 501(c)3 nonprofit status which allows donations to be tax deductible. While technically true because the prolonged illness and death of a loved one in my family delayed a yearly IRS filing, pro-gun bloggers used the lapse to discredit us.

 

We are pleased to announce that as per the normal IRS procedure, our 501(c)3 nonprofit status has been retroactively reinstated, as we assured our supporters it would. We regret the gap in our status but we more greatly regret the way the pro-gun movement exploited our situation to remove focus on the gun violence they perpetuate and the need for sane gun laws.

 

If you have not already done so, please join Operation Sideline to compel US corporations to take a stand against gun violence and weapons like TrackingPoint’s “Can’t Miss” Sniper rifle being sold to civilians.

Thank you for being our supporter and being the strength of what we do.

Elliot Fineman

Chief Executive Officer

National Gun Victims Action Council

 

SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE USED BY THE SANDY HOOK KILLER

How “insane” are our gun laws?

 

* Known terrorists not allowed to purchase a plane ticket can legally purchase guns.

 

*The gun industry is the only industry exempt from federal regulation. (It used to be tobacco and guns, now it is just guns.)

 

* Guns are not registered, gun owners are not licensed.

 

*Criminals and people with mental illness, who cannot legally buy a gun from a gun dealer, can go to any gun show and legally buy guns.

 

“Concealed carry” is now legal in all states–pitting the rights of a paranoid minority against the safety of the majority of Americans.

 

*Guns can now be carried in national parks and on Amtrak trains.

 

*Despite Virginia Tech and other campus shootings, legalizing guns on campus is the gun lobby’s next goal.

 

Tallahassee Murder is Third Arson/Shooting of Officers This Year

Sunday, November 23rd, 2014

Curtis Wade Holley, who police identify as the arsonist/murderer who took the life of Leon County Sheriff deputy Chris Smith this week in Florida, was known to police. He was in the system for issuing previous threats and being “antigovernment.”

 

Was Holley a legal gun owner whose weapons were not scrutinized as he became dangerous? Did he buy his murder weapons from a legal gun dealer after his threats became known–thanks to huge holes in the NICS background check system? Did Holley buy his weapons in the many background check-free sales ops the NRA defends? Hey, shady people have gun rights!

 

However Holley procured his weapon, we have the NRA to thank for the death of another law enforcement officer. The NRA blocks a registry, universal background checks, mandatory reporting of lost guns, bans on high capacity magazines, retention of owner data beyond 24 hours, illegal trafficking legislation and more. The NRA even works to restore the “gun rights” of convicted felons, people under orders of protection and people with severe mental illness. Sales are $ales.

William Spengler Identified As Webster Firefighter Shooter; Kill

Who remembers William Spengler? Last Christmas Eve, Spengler, a felon convicted of killing his own grandmother, set a fire to entice fire fighters to his location in Webster, NY and shot and killed two fire fighters. Spengler bought his weapon at Gander Mountain, according to published reports, picking out an AK 15 while a straw buyer stood by.

 

Police Shoot, Kill Kurt Myers, Ending Standoff in Herkimer, NewWeeks later in March, Kurt Myers set his home ablaze and fatally shot a correctional officer, a retired correctional officer and two others in Herkimer County, NY. Like Spengler, he was widely known to be unbalanced and dangerous.

 

Four months later, Pedro Vargas started a fire in his Miami area apartment and shot and killed the building manager and his wife when they came to investigate. For eight hours Vargas terrorized his five-story apartment complex and killed four more people. He was also well known in his community as unbalanced and angry.

It is ironic that Vargas’s rampage, the murder of deputy Chris Smith and Myron May’s library rampage all happened in Florida which has led the nation in stand your ground and other gun proliferation laws. Law enforcement officers have disproportionately been killed by guns in Florida and in 2007 three major Florida law-enforcement groups and a coalition of police, prosecutors, politicians and parents of children slain by firearms called for tightening of eligibility rules for concealed weapon licenses. Since then, cop wannabes George Zimmerman and Michael Dunn have further earned the state its “Gunshine state” nickname.

Why do lawmakers enable “guns-everywhere” legislation that kills their own law enforcement officers and fire fighters? How could the threat of “government tyranny” be worth arming government-hating murderers like Spengler, Myers and Holley?

 

Join our action to tell corporate America to get off the “sidelines” and take a stand against gun violence including the “can’t miss” sniper rifle sold to civilians. When corporations want sane gun laws, we will have sane gun laws.

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