In this op-ed, author Lux Alptraum explains why the call to make a mental fitness database to prevent weapons from being purchased through human beings living with intellectual contamination is stigmatizing and harmful.
In the wake of a couple of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, wherein more than 30 humans had been killed, diverse politicians have progressed to provide pathways to a much less violent future. Among them is New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose “Make America Safer” pledge outlines numerous steps towards lowering gun violence within the United States.
Some of Cuomo’s hints — like banning assault guns and high-potential magazines or passing frequent heritage checks — are relatively uncontroversial amongst gun manipulation supporters. But one object on the list has precipitated an incredible deal of backlash: a suggestion to “create an intellectual health information base to prevent the dangerously mentally unwell from shopping a firearm.”
At first look, this may look like a reasonable notion. If a person’s intellectual health places them at a multiplied hazard of violence or aggression, it makes experience to bar them from purchasing weapons. Federal law already prohibits people involuntarily dedicated to an intellectual group or decided by way of a court docket to be a risk to themselves or others from shopping for a gun. And in fact, New York already has a database like this in the country. Yet, the relationship between intellectual illness and mass shootings is dubious initially. A database like this will cause more harm than good for many people with mental infections.
Contrary to popular perception, having an intellectual illness does not boost a person’s propensity for violence; it’s genuinely more likely to increase one’s hazard of being a victim of violence. Many flawlessly peaceful folks stay with mental contamination — even disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and borderline character ailment aren’t assured to spark a violent rampage. People with mental contamination can thrive and live purposeful, glad lives with the right treatment. A diagnosis isn’t always a future; it’s only a mission that calls for people to pay closer attention and recognize their intellectual wellness as they move through the arena.
However, the hefty amount of stigma surrounding an analysis does cause problems for human beings with mental illness. That stigma makes many of us uncomfortable brazenly discussing our intellectual health, and in a few instances, even makes us avoid searching for treatment or getting the right analysis. Over the past few years, we’ve seen a significant reduction in the stigma surrounding mental contamination, as public figures like Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson have opened up about their diagnoses. And artwork that subtly explores intellectual contamination, like Esme Wang’s essay collection The Collected Schizophrenias or the CW display Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, has been released to tremendous acclaim.
But as politicians race to attract deceptive connections between mass shootings and intellectual illness, that stigma only stands to boom. Instead of informing those who stay with schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder as folks handling persistent contamination, we’re advocating to envision them as ticking time bombs that could go off at any moment. It’s a framing that dehumanizes people with intellectual contamination, and it’s people unwilling to consider the opportunity that they are probably residing with intellectual illness.
Though a mental fitness database purports to protect people from the risk of violence, it’s far more likely to cause harm to humans living with intellectual illness. It is one thing to publicly reveal your analysis in a way that gives nuance and context to your battle. It is some other to have that preference and framing taken from you. I’ve written multiple essays about my conflict with obsessive-compulsive disorder. Still, the idea that I will be compelled to sign up with the authorities as a person with OCD makes me incredibly uncomfortable. I can simplest imagine that pain is some distance, a long way worse for people living with substantially more stigmatized conditions.
Even when the database is restrained handiest to those presumed to be “dangerous,” who gets to decide what makes a person “dangerous?” Is it a history of violent behavior or a propensity to violent thoughts? Might a person with no violence file against others land up inside the database only on the premise of their analysis? And if so, what motivation would a person have to seek assistance? A “risky” intellectual infection if seeking assistance has already called for the involuntary commitment of a few “mentally disturbed people”?