The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 29, 2014

Protect the mentally ill

NORMAN — The federal government believed Colby Sue Weathers was a paranoid schizophrenic. It had information that she was delusional and suicidal, unable to work and therefore eligible for Medicaid and disability benefits.

One summer day in 2012, Weathers cashed her government check, bought a .45 caliber pistol from Missouri gun shop, returned home and shot her father dead.

So here’s the question: If the federal government considers a person is mentally ill enough to receive financial benefits, why can’t it also decide that person is dangerous enough to be banned from buying a gun?

Ask that question, and you tumble down a mineshaft.

Members of Congress leap to protect the Second Amendment, especially on behalf of veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder who might receive disability benefits. Medical professionals fear they’ll bear culpability for pronouncing a person dangerous or for not finding one so, if the patient then goes on to commit a violent act. Mental health advocates warn against stereotyping people suffering from depression as dangerous. Privacy experts fear medical records will be compromised and say the government shouldn’t be cross-pollinating its records systems. The Social Security Administration would have to share data with the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which federally licensed gun dealers use.

And the National Rifle Association would just as soon keep talking about the lack of mental health treatment options, and keep firearms out of the conversation altogether.

Yet the intersection between guns and mentally illness is the one point that has gained traction with the public as incident after incident happens in which a mentally unstable person takes a gun and commit mass murder. Bit by bit, progress has been made. States have become better at reporting to the federal registry — some states. Many are still reluctant to comply with their duty to do so, and it will be a difficult struggle to bring them into the fold.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Marijuana a gateway for new OK voters

    A poll this past year showed significant Oklahoma support for legalizing the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes. The poll showed that more than 71 percent of those surveyed thought medical marijuana was appropriate for patients who ...

    July 31, 2014

  • Expansion effect evaluated

    Editor, The Transcript: The effect of the Medicaid expansion rejection and acceptance on hospitals’ uncompensated costs are now being evaluated....

    July 31, 2014

  • America paying the piper

    Every third American you pass on the street has debts that have been turned over to a collection agency whose 140,000 workers are keeping the phones ringing....

    July 31, 2014

  • State is No. 2 in barbecue

    Americans love the marriage of smoke, fire and meat, but geography plays a part in how strong the passion is. Estately Blog has created a map charting which states are home to the most barbecue enthusiasts. Oklahoma comes in at No. 2 in ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Community Action mostly closed due to cutbacks

    Editor, The Transcript: The Community Action, at 1155 E Main St. in Norman, for decades has served Cleveland County with the following everyday services: a food pantry, short-term housing for the homeless, providing rides for those without ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Keep guns off campus

    Some Oklahoma lawmakers just won’t let the issue of allowing handguns on campus to go away. A joint legislative study will take a look at campuses around the nation to see if there is a way to accommodate faculty, staff and students who ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Improving children’s lives

    Social service organizations that have long-term debt for their headquarters and operating needs often spend much of their fundraising efforts meeting those obligations....

    July 29, 2014

  • Nutritional article should be accurate

    I read with interest the July 13 article “Are low-carb diets really healthy?” by Cassidie Day. Unfortunately, a number of statements in this article were incorrect. The first problematic statement was, “Carbs are an essential nutrient ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Hospital story headline was too sensationalized

    Editor, The Transcript: On July 18, The Transcript ran a front page article with the headline “Lawsuit filed against Norman Regional — Civil suit alleges improper billing practices by NRH and contracted physicians groups.” As a first page ...

    July 29, 2014

  • Congress should close gaps

    Of all of Edward Snowden’s revelations about electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, the most unsettling was that the government was accumulating vast numbers of records about the telephone calls of American citizens. In ...

    July 27, 2014