Some reactions I have to this whole gun-control law:
1. Done “behind close doors”.
Apart from the evident issue of ‘transparency’, one problem with this is that many times courts use the history of a bill or law to help the judge understand it and arrive to a more ‘fair’ judgement. It seems to me that this is not possible when the history of the bill is shrouded in secrecy. Maybe the judge can still peek behind the curtain, but I doubt a defense lawyer can do it.
2. Stigma against the mentally ill sanctioned by law.
People who suffer from mental illness in all of its forms, mild or severe, have been officially associated with criminals and criminality. The stigma sticks now by the force of law and public condemnation. It’s a psychological process, subtle but effective, of linking things that are not by nature linkable. In the gun battle between the NRA and our political leaders, the casualties were logic and tolerance.
All of the so-called measures related to mental ‘health’ in this gun law associate any ‘findings’ of mental illness and of history of involuntary commitment, even “civilly confined in a secure treatment facility” to the euphemistic “contrary to public safety”. The mentally ill have been declared PERMANENTLY “contrary to public safety”.
Any measure of ‘assessment’ of disability is done to calm the public’s irrational fears of the mentally ill. It’s not to find the sick and help them, no. It’s to punish the sick and deprive them of their liberties in order to “protect” a prejudiced populace. The measures relating to AOT are there to find out whether UNARMED prisoners in prison are mentally ill, in which case they will be tagged permanently and, if released, spied upon according to the ‘surveillance’ measures in the law. They don’t call them surveillance, of course; they call it “reporting”.
Our prisons are the new psych hospitals. Many people are aware of this. And if you were not mentally ill when you got in, you sure will become one once inside. But the point is that the double whammy of being an ex-con by nature of having been imprisoned due to your mental illness and now been tagged as even more dangerous to society because you are ill and could go on mass killing, is unfair, stigmatizing and solves nothing. Let alone the fact that no measures to help the mentally ill in prison is mentioned in this law.
So, even if you haven’t been to prison, if your ‘friends’ find out you have a ‘diagnosis’, that will be enough to scare the bejesuse out of them. Wow. You must be an ex con too. Mass murderer….
Kidding aside, that’s how stereotypes work.
3. Privacy lost.
I wonder what other rights, in addition to privacy, will the mentally ill lose next. Mind you, we lose these rights by virtue of being ill. Committed ‘for your own good’ against your will? Check your privacy at the door; it’s for your own good too. Well, not yours but for the “public safety”. And don’t expect to get it back any time soon. Had “insight” and talked about your “violent” thoughts with your therapists, even though you have never been violent and know you wouldn’t harm any one? Privacy lost. You probably be in the hospital by now.
You have to learn a new language to communicate with your therapists now in these days of ‘the mentally ill are mass killers’. Eliminate “violent ideas” or “I feel jumpy”. It may put you in the AOT program in the blink of an eye.
It doesn’t matter why you were hospitalized, for how long, how frequently…one history, one ‘episode’ is enough to cast you out of society.
I hope you find comfort in this bill.
God knows I don’t. Anything done at the expense of the mentally ill is bound to oppress me. We saved nothing with this bill, we fixed nothing with it, there were no provisions to help the mentally ill. Only punishment.
Pray that you or any one in your family ever have ‘an episode’.
PS. Sorry for the frequent passive voice. I’m working on it.