If It’s Mental Illness…

I always hesitate before blogging about guns, knowing that posting any opinion other than “yes, you have a constitutional right to pack heat whenever or wherever you want, and it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve beaten your wife” will generate howls of opprobrium and hysterical accusations that I want to disarm everyone.

But still.

The Orange Menace in the Oval Office is on record–well, on twitter–saying that America doesn’t have a gun problem, that what we do have is a mental health problem.

There are, of course, multiple available rebuttals to that statement. We might point out that other countries with similar percentages of mentally-ill citizens but fewer guns have dramatically fewer incidents of gun violence. We might point out that allowing civilians to own lethal assault weapons developed for warfare is evidence of a different sort of mental illness. We might point out that the Second Amendment doesn’t require a failure to differentiate between a hunting rifle and an AK-15.

Even if we ignore those arguments, we’re left with a question that our Tweeter-in-Chief conveniently ignored: if mass shootings are attributable to failures of our efforts to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill, why did he eliminate Obama’s restrictions on gun ownership for people with mental illness? (We do know the answer to that: Trump’s obsessive hatred of Obama and his fixation on erasing any and all measures attributable to his predecessor.)

As NBC reported in February,

President Donald Trump quietly signed a bill into law Tuesday rolling back an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun.

The rule, which was finalized in December, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background check database.

Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to that database.

President Barack Obama recommended the now-nullified regulation in a 2013 memo following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, which left 20 first graders and six others dead. The measure sought to block some people with severe mental health problems from buying guns.

The GOP-led House and Senate obediently passed the bill nullifying the Obama-era measure, and officials of the NRA “applauded” the action.

Of course they did.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., a leading gun control advocate in Congress, called out Republicans over the move.

“Republicans always say we don’t need new gun laws, we just need to enforce the laws already on the books. But the bill signed into law today undermines enforcement of existing laws that Congress passed to make sure the background check system had complete information,” he said in an emailed statement.

So, welcome to the U.S. of A… On this Thanksgiving Day, feel free to express your gratitude for a country where any raving lunatic can legally buy a gun, and the twittering lunatic in the White House can launch nuclear weapons.

American exceptionalism, baby!


  1. Thanks to Trump; we not only have a law allowing mentally unstable civilians the right to “bear arms” , in the vernacular of their beloved 2nd Amendment, but as of August the United States Army now has a waiver allowing those with diagnosed bi-polar, self-mutilation, depression, alcohol and drug problems to enlist. This waiver would also make the once legal protection of a “Section 8” discharge for mental instability obsolete.

    Only the United States Army was mentioned in the article announcing the waiver; does this mean we can turn to the Marine Corps, the United States Navy and/or Air Force and the Coast Guard for protection from our own Army?

    Whatever happened to that “well regulated Militia” protected under the 2nd Amendment?

    Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

  2. Yours is a brutally logical argumentation that knocks the socks of t Orangehead before that first round has even begun!

    Alas, logic, common sense, rationality, truth carry little if no weight in this era of emotional demagogy and bold face lies.

    But keep up the good fight. The pen is mightier than the sword. Truth must prevail.

  3. Thank you to Prof. Kennedy and all who follow and comment on her blog for the new perspectives, the thoughtful, educational and insightful things you gave me over the past year. May you all enjoy the day in whatever fashion you choose.

  4. Even on Thanksgiving you can’t post a kind word for our country? Something you’re thankful for? Anything? Really?

  5. JoAnn,

    The Scalia led “originalists” on the Supreme Court decided that the first phrase of the Second Amendment was irrelevant.


    I’m thankful for the Native Americans who fed and cared for our ancestors, before our ancestors rounded them up, stole their land, and tried to eliminate them. How’s that for being thankful?

  6. David Horth; we are not safe from Trump’s irrational rampages and removing protective laws and regulations or his deep need to “nuke ’em”…somebody, anybody, but most likely North Korea. Unless they make the preemptive strike; we have two fools who are world leaders to live in daily fear of; one of them our own president. We can eat turkey and pumpkin pie till we are bloated and plan how to use the leftover turkey but it will not lessen the life-and-death conditions in this country – and beyond – on this Thanksgiving Day.

    Yes; we can be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day and again tomorrow that Trump and/or Kim Jong-Un have not pressed those nuclear buttons…YET.

  7. Iʻm thankful for Sheila and everyone who contributes to this blog. During times of discouragement (frequently, since the Orange Fart occupied the WH), Iʻve gleaned many rays of hope and learned much. Wishing you all a Happy Thanksgiving!

  8. Wanna make whitey wingnuts wet his/her britches? Ask them to find the words guns and/or god in the constitution.

    Never ceases to amaze me how these people claim to take the constitution literally, as written but can then twist words around to fit their agenda.

  9. Far below the patriotic glow by proponents of an obsessed distortion of original intent for the Second Amendment, is the dark shadow world of arms trade. The same industry that provides a substantial transfer of wealth to the NRA for their one off lobbying efforts, is the industry that plays sordid games behind the scenes with intermediaries funding heavy bribes and stirring conflict to inflict fear and leverage public support for armament build-up with profits going to the industry, intermediaries and yes, politicians acting as willing ‘prostitutes’ of the armed conflict machine. This charade is much bigger and goes far deeper than the distraction created that keeps us busy on a very superficial level of the gun control debate.

  10. mike from iowa; they do the same with religion and the Bible and have now managed to combine the Constitution (the only one we have) and the Bible (but which version?) into their version of democracy. So far their version is as meaningful as Burma Shave road signs.

  11. If these guys wanted to do something about the carnage and they really believed that it stemmed from a “mental health problem”, they would remove the CDC restrictions on treating guns as a public health problem (mental illness is a public health problem) and fund the research which would help us understand the relationship between guns and mental illness. Once we began to understand more specifically about that relationship, that could lead to intervention, aside from general stuff, and some sort of intervention could be designed. Each step in that sequence has difficulties for them, so they go on invoking “mental illness” and walk away. It’s not like hiring 50,000 more psychologists to do therapy will “fix” anything, in the first place, like “therapy” is some sort of technological fix for all of life’s problems.

  12. As I read it, when someone is actively suicidal (especially a man) or homicidal, some sort of therapeutic program is a great idea, but the first thing is to simply take away their guns because people with guns kill people easily and quickly. Once someone pulls the trigger, you probably have about .0004 seconds to help them decide on a better alternative.

  13. “American exceptionalism, baby!”

    We have a gun problem because American arms manufacturers need to sell guns in order to make a profit.

    It’s why we have wars and sell billions of dollars worth of guns to other countries who like to war as much as we do (Saudi Arabia).

    I don’t think liberals can grasp the paranoia felt by our conservative brothers unless you listen/watch conservative propaganda.

    Our free press chose profits over serving the will of the people so they became instruments of propaganda. Each catering to a specific target market with their known set of fears.

    There are plenty videos about Edward Bernays, nephew of Sigmund Freud.

    Conservatives are easy to manipulate – I’ve been playing with them for years on social media. Those with millions of dollars in marketing data can pinpoint target markets all around the world making it very easy to manipulate the masses.

    If you’re driven by fear (which we all are to some extent), then a gun is the amazing equalizer. But it’s just another false god. A gun doesn’t make you more powerful, but it does make you FEEL more powerful.

  14. We love our country and its democratic underpinnings, and that’s why we are resisting the current crop of fruitcakes currently in charge. Some of us have fallen prey to the illogic and lies of Trump’s narcissistic otherworld which demands that we view stands on issues of the day through his psychotic lens, i.e., if you deny sexual predation it didn’t happen, if you give more money to the rich the poor will prosper, among other such ventures in unreality. I for one do not believe that the moon is made of green cheese, that the dish ran away with the spoon and other such fairy tales that defy reason. Nor do I believe that trickledown and/or austerity economics will bring prosperity to America – quite the contrary – as has been consistently proven over time in economic history.

    To equate such resistance with a lack of patriotism and failure to heap adulation on fruitcakes (as one commentator has done this morning) is a mere exercise in framing and misses the point. Those of us who know that following such aberrations will lead to a loss of what is left of our democracy don’t live in Trump’s otherworld; we live in the real world, a world where Putin is a murdering dictator and not a “strong leader” per Trump; a world where women have control of their own bodies and a right to be believed, a world where truth and transparency and reality are still germane to policy making.

    I am thankful this Thanksgiving for those who resist those who would destroy our democracy, our most important asset held in common and one of the last few things worth dying for. Let’s persevere.

  15. Rumor has it that there’s a book on Fake President Trump’s Oval Office desk that’s entitled, “Stupid Things to Say and Do.” The book has to be huge. I wonder who reads it to the Orange Man.

  16. President Obama was right when he said that frightened people revert to clutching their guns and their Bibles. Republicans feed paranoia, fear and prejudice to keep the money coming in and winning elections. That speaks volumes for the inherent ignorance of the Republican base. Otherwise, why would 20% of the population own 80% of the guns?

    Now, the evangelical churches are joining the nit-wit parade by scaring the daylights out of their followers about anything and everyone not them. This is so antebellum as to inflict a pre-Civil War epiphany on our nation. The orange hairball feeds that group, though it is slowly shrinking.

    Let’s give thanks to those rational people who keep things in perspective and who assiduously avoid hate, fear, prejudice and the mindless following of idiots.

  17. Like so much of the chaos that entertainment media imposed on America the actions of Donny Johnny (@Baby_inChief) have only to do with cementing Republicans in power forever through sucking up to the donor class (the NRA for example). People don’t like the word but that is precisely fascism. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in the GOP success in defeating democracy by manipulating the election process in order to empower minority positions to gain more influence in determining who represents us.

    It’s the Reichstag fire all over again. Win elections by deception until they can be held by power.

  18. Great column on Guns this week. I’ve been in law enforcement for 31 years and agree with you on the open access to guns and assault weapons in this country!! The right to bear arms should not and does not include purchasing assault weapons or people getting them with mental illness. I know the NRA is more powerful than Congress, the President, the Supreme Court or the Pope , but lets draw a line in the sand here people!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  19. The NRA ads exploring the thought of a subversion of the goverment,the fact they even mention such a theme by a donation supported populus,is also disturbing. when one,has a mass of memebers who did not,spreak out against such ideas by the NRA,are guilty of treason,in a sense that,you condone the overthrow of the goverement for the sake of your damn guns.I am not anti gun,i have owned some of the largest calibre weapons made,and each had a single need,one home defense,and defense when camping remotely. desert eagle 44, protectes my family from harm.a weatherby .300 for hunting. both arms are some of the finest made.I,support their exisitance, (i can not now,due a felony conviction)I however will never support a orgaization who spews radial talk against my country. The NRA is such a org, and I will never,or have I ever, supported the NRA. I live in rural America. we have guns,but,as a whole,we have a major mental issues. The fact, in a new age of social media,talk radio,educational agendas,movies,and just wannabe people who, can not understand what new media is,and how it can be used,or just misused by no thought, to move people on emotion,and make them react. see the russian media fallout. its really no diffrent from some DNA in tech. someone can,and big corps,lobbist,company,security,ads, wall street,your mom, even kids in a playground,now can,and will use words to stimulate talk,then reaction. we have dummied up America,and you cant see,or,actully hear the issue. your too busy with that i phone,,,,making some decision. and its all just profits something… hard to ask the question if you dont know,the issues..now shut up and drive…….happy TG and please understand why we left england to come here..

  20. My comment was fairly straight forward. On a annual day of thanksgiving, offer thanks. I too am greatly concerned for our country and our world. At the age of 56 I have never before been as offended, concerned, or fearful as I am presently. Even so, there is much for which I remain thankful. Gratitude and outrage are not mutually exclusive.

    Just my opinion.


  21. To paraphrase yourself, ” Disarming everyone ” . STOP IT!
    Sounds like you president , don’t I .

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