Mentally Ill Offenders and Gun Control Page 1
Mentally Ill Offenders and Gun Control Page 2
Mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal.
Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. ...view middle of the document...
The Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is at the heart of the issue of gun control. The Second Amendment declares that, "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."
The language of the amendment appears to grant to the people the absolute right to bear arms. However, the U.S. Supreme Court has held that the amendment merely protects the right of states to form a state militia (United States v. Miller, 307 U.S. 174, 59 S. Ct. 816, 83 L. Ed. 1206 ).
Even before the Miller opinion interpreted the Second Amendment in 1939, Congress, state legislatures, and local governing bodies were passing laws that restricted the right to bear arms. Kentucky passed the first state legislation prohibiting the carrying of concealed weapons, in 1813. By 1993, firearms were regulated by approximately 23,000 federal, state, and local laws.
State and local firearms laws vary widely. Thirteen states prohibit only the carrying of concealed handguns. At the other end of the spectrum, three Chicago suburbs—Morton Grove, Oak Park, and Evanston ban handgun ownership outright. Generally, firearms regulations are more restrictive in large metropolitan areas. State and local firearms laws and ordinances include outright bans of certain firearms, prohibitions on the alteration of certain firearms, and restrictions on the advertising of guns. State gun-control laws also address the theft of
Mentally Ill Offenders and Gun Control Page 4
handguns, the inheritance of firearms, the use of firearms as collateral for loans, the possession of firearms by Aliens, the discharge of firearms in public areas, and the alteration of serial numbers or other identifying marks on firearms. States generally base their power to control firearms on the police-power provisions of their constitutions, which grant to the states the right to enact laws for public safety.
People with serious mental illness are 3 to 4 times more likely to be violent than those who aren't. But the vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent and never will be.
Most violence in society is caused by other things. Even if we had a perfect mental health care system, that is not going to solve our gun violence problem. If we were able to magically cure schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and major depression, that would be wonderful, but overall violence would go down by only about 4 percent. A 2001 study looked specifically at 34 adolescent mass murderers all male. Seventy percent were described as a loner. 61.5 percent had problems with substance abuse 48 percent had preoccupations with weapons. 43.5 percent had been victims of...