By: Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO, MHA
“Mental Health America is deeply disappointed that in HR 1112, language is included that perpetuates historic, unfair and unfounded assumptions and prejudices about people experiencing or living with a mental health condition. It is built upon the widely held, but erroneous, belief that equates mental illness with violence.
“Studies confirm that less than 4% of violent crime, of any type, is committed by persons with a diagnosed mental illness. The greatest indicator of violence is past violence, not a mental illness diagnosis. Millions of people have mental illnesses and never have a violent thought or idea. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are more likely be victims of violence.
“This is why what may be a well-intentioned move away from the antiquated term “mental defective,” to “adjudicated with mental illness, severe developmental disability, or severe emotional instability” stills fall far short, and remains blatantly discriminatory in its substance and implications.
“Experiencing an episode that affects one’s mental health, living with a mental illness, experiencing emotional disturbance, or having developmental disability is not something to which a person is or should be adjudicated by the judicial system, nor should it or does it automatically imply dangerousness.
“MHA is working closely with its allies to see that legislative language regarding prohibitions or restrictions regarding firearms reflects the fact that there are times when a person may be and should be deemed to be ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm due to their mental status, it is not solely because they experience or have experienced a mental condition.”