A National Database of the ‘Mentally Ill’ (Updated)

At a press conference today (12/21/2012), National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre made the suggestion that a database of all ‘mentally ill’ individuals in the United States be created.

There is so much wrong with what LaPierre was on about, it’s going to be difficult to keep my comments to his database proclamation alone.  However, let me kick off a conversation by asking everyone who reads this blog and has a mental illness how they feel about  potentially being treated in a way similar to a sex offender.

[Update 12/24/2012]

Here is the quote from the transcript of the NRA press conference:

“How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?” LaPierre asked. “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?”

Fun fact, LaPierre:

Creation of a mandatory national database probably would have had little impact on the ability of suspected shooters in four mass shootings since 2011 to get and use powerful weapons. The other people accused either stole the weapons used in the attacks or had not been ruled by courts to be “mentally defective” before the shootings.

Thanks to everyone who has responded so far.  Let’s keep the conversation going.

I invite more discussion below.

I’m from a different country but that is completely wrong, having a mental illness is not a crime, it would be dangerous for people with mental illness, it’s not safe to have a mental illness or any neurological/psychological difference.

Let me get this straight. We can’t have a national database of ITEMS that are known to be used to kill people, but we can have a national database of PEOPLE who have treatable mental illnesses. I’m pretty sure the right to privacy trumps the right to own a weapon of mass destruction. Sounds like something Hitler would propose. Oh, wait, it is something Hitler did!

Completely made my blood boil, too. So far, from what my Twitter news feeds say, this idea hasn’t gained any traction, but it will be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

Well, that’s encouraging, at least. I’ve been anxious about being more public about by Bipolar Disorder, but never outright scared. I’m scared. By the way, I’ve been referring to my disorder as BPD for short, but I understand that can also be short for Borderline Personality Disorder. Do you use an acronym for bipolar and if so, what?

I use BP for Bipolar and BPD for Borderline. I’m with you – I never went public about my illness. My husband told a few of his family members against my wishes and got his hand slapped. I’m too afraid of repercussions and stigma, especially if I reenter the workforce. Have you told anyone? What was their reaction?

I’ve told lots of people. Some just take it in stride; others, you can see the shock and anxiety on their faces. One friend had questions, like could she “set me off”; another person said, “wow, you’d never know to look at you.” I thought that was pretty hilarious. Most people are encouraging and glad that I talk about it. So, I’m pretty open. They love me at my current job and I’ll also be working with a psychology practice soon tutoring clients. It’d be pretty sad if they wouldn’t let a Bipolar teacher work with kids with mental, behavioral and emotional disorders! Now, though, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be able to work in a public school even though I”m an excellent teacher. All they’d have to do is search my name and they’d find my blog where I’m completely open about my mental health.

Wow! You are my idol. Seriously, I am not that courageous. I did tell only two co-workers at my last job, and one actually asked me if I were sure the diagnosis was correct. He didn’t have to finish the sentence with the, “Because you seem so sane,” part. I just let that awkward moment hang in the air like a lead balloon for a while, too. Bad of me, eh? LOL. Your job sounds fantastic and rewarding. Now that you’ll be tutoring a psychology practice’s clients, would you even want to work in the public school system?

This is so profoundly offensive to me. There is overwhelming evidence that the “mentally ill” are more likely to harm themselves than anyone else. I think we have much more to fear from those who think they’re the ones who are sane! Perhaps those who think that they’re going to defend themselves against a tyrannical government using their cache of AR-15s against helicopters, tanks, and drones… seriously. This whole debate makes me so angry…

Agreed. I’m hopeful that the NRA has hit a brick wall this time, with both their lunacy about armed guards in every school and a database of people who are more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than the perpetrators of one.

Perhaps we should consider easier access to testing, evaluation, and treatment of mental illness in our public school system. We need to find ways to help people with difficulties especially since many parents are unable to. The Affordable Health Care Act may help make this a reality. It should not be about labeling someone, but about helping them. Teachers could refer students to the School Psychologist for assistance. Preventative treatment(maintenance) may be the best solution to reducing violent behavior.

Absolutely. The entire mental healthcare system in the US needs reformation. Ease of access, education and overall availability of services are just three areas that need to be addressed. I’m also hoping the Affordable Health Care Act will help. Thanks for responding!

This kind of thing always comes up when there’s a mass killing like Newtown or Columbine. People are hysterical and desperate to DO SOMETHING to fix the problem. Too bad we can’t get past the NRA lobby and pass some real gun control laws.

I am hoping this time America will wake up and do it – pass some real gun control laws. Another thing that absolutely made my blood boil was the suggestion by LaPierre that putting armed guards in our schools wouldn’t cost a penny – the NRA thinks they can pull this off by using volunteers. Volunteers!! What better way for a person with a gun fetish to be exposed to what the NRA has branded ‘the most vulnerable segment of our population.’ In the four mass shootings since 2011, the shooters either obtained the guns illegally (stole them) and/or were not declared mentally ill. Sigh.

I didn’t reply on this for a long time both because I was being all busy, but also because it’s such a ridiculous proposition that I can hardly believe anyone would give even cursory consideration to it.

I mean, from a practical standpoint? Completely unrealistic. Diagnoses change over time; who’s going to stand judge and decide what constitutes “mentally ill”, or at least “dangerous” in that context.

I agree that real gun control laws are needed, but let’s start with practical, enforceable, non-discriminatory actions, right?

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