Mass Violence Legislation Scapegoats People with Mental Illness

Mass Violence Legislation Scapegoats People with Mental Illness

Today, NDRN joined over 20 national organizations including disability rights, civil rights, education, and privacy groups to express concerns about the Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts (RESPONSE) Act, legislation introduced by Senator Cornyn.

In the letter sent to Senator Cornyn, the coalition applauds the recognition of the need for a federal effort to address mass violence, but expresses serious concern about focusing that effort on people with mental health disabilities. The organizations urge that mental health reform legislation be separated from legislation addressing mass violence, pointing out the clear evidence that mental health disabilities are not predictors of gun violence, and that only 4% of gun violence is committed by people with mental health disabilities.

“We believe it is urgent to address incidents of mass violence in our country,” said Curt Decker, Executive Director of the National Disability Rights Network. “However, those efforts should focus on real solutions rather than on mental health reforms that will have little impact on gun violence.” “Wrongly blaming people with psychiatric disabilities for gun violence sows prejudice and fear, undermining the opportunities for people with psychiatric disabilities to live, work and be full participants in their communities,” said Jennifer Mathis, Director of Policy and Legal Advocacy at the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law.