COMMENTARY: Should state-defined ‘mentally ill’ not own a gun?

Recently, the Delaware State News reported that a coalition of Delaware legislators, health professionals and law enforcement officers gathered at the governor’s office to announce the introduction of legislation to expand the prohibition of gun possession for those deemed by the state government to be “mentally ill.”

On the surface, it seems to be a no-brainer that the insane should not be permitted to own weapons — until you try to define the word “mentally ill.”

As a mental health professional for over 30 years, I can tell you that the term is very much a vague and undefined concept.

Michael J. Hurd Ph.D., LCSW

Let’s look closer: According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the term includes a plethora of behaviors that include excessive hand washing, listlessness, overreactivity to winter, inability to form deep commitments, difficulty paying attention, hypersensitivity to criticism — the list goes on and on.

So if a person with any mental disorder can be deemed unfit to own a gun, then exactly how will the police and courts make the distinction? And therein lies the problem: It’s no secret that the vast majority of mental health professionals are Democrats. And some have publicly equated the views of conservatives and libertarians with insanity. routinely posts articles on the alleged insanity of President Donald Trump, and some therapists/psychiatrists even talk about the “moral obligation” of mental health professionals to see that Mr. Trump is removed from office.

Mixing politics and mental health is worse than a slippery slope. And this badly worded legislation is fraught with trouble. In the realm of politics, people with opposing views often consider the other side “insane.” Do people in the minority in a one-party state like Delaware really want to hand over permanent control of the ability to own weapons of self-defense to an entrenched and hostile majority? Are Republicans really that stupid?

The point here is not gun control. The point is the definition of and evidence for mental disorder. If it were as self-evident as a blood test, then it might be different. But it’s not. We’re talking about liberals’ proven penchant for punishing people for the content of their minds, over and above their actions.

Once we establish the principle that “the government says you are mentally ill, therefore you cannot own a gun,” we’ve set the stage for the government to establish what mental health is. Communist and Nazi countries did exactly the same thing. Wake up, people! Is that really what Delaware wants?

EDITOR’S NOTE: is Michael J. Hurd Ph.D., LCSW, a mental health professional and psychotherapist in Delaware.

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