Mental illness is falsely slandered in gun deaths

A driver in the passing lane accelerates to pass you, then moves in front of your vehicle and immediately slows down. It’s aggravating.

What can you do?

Traffic researchers would advise you to do nothing. Don’t honk. Do not roll down the window and do not shout. Don’t make any hand gestures. They would advise you not to agitate in any way because there is a good chance the aggressive driver is carrying a gun.

According to a 2021 study by a gun advocacy group called Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund, someone is killed or injured by gunshot in a road rage incident every 17 hours in the United States. A survey conducted the same year by the AAA Foundation for Highway Safety concluded that an average of 44 people per month were shot and killed or injured in road rage incidents.

AR-15s may be the scariest firearms, but from a strictly statistical standpoint, handguns are deadlier. According to data collected by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2020, handguns were implicated in 59% of the nation’s 13,620 non-negligent firearm murders and manslaughters, while guns (the category that includes “weapons assault vehicles” such as AR-15s) were implicated in three percent of firearm killings. (The remainder of the firearm homicides and negligent manslaughters noted by the FBI involved various types of firearms or those classified as “undeclared type.”)

We don’t know how many drivers pack a gun because a license is not required.

Under Florida law, anyone 18 or older can have a firearm in their vehicle without having a concealed carry permit or safety training – as long as the firearm is not not easily accessible for immediate use, not in view of the driver or any other person. in the vehicle.

State Representative Anthony Sabatini would apparently be okay with drivers having any type of firearm right next to them in the passenger seat – pistol, revolver, shotgun, AR-15. Sabatini, who is something of a one-man gun crusade, proposed legislation that would have completely removed the requirement to obtain a license to carry a concealed firearm. His bill (HB 103) was presented to the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Subcommittee in March before – thankfully – dying.

Sabatini and his pro-gun colleagues use a convenient label of “mental health” to dismiss concerns about gun safety. They claim it’s not about types of guns or too many guns, it’s about the sanity of the person who has the guns. If we can identify the mental health issue and treat the shooter before the shooting, they say, there won’t be a fatal shooting.

Mental health is the Republican version.

Obviously, if you’re a mentally healthy person, you don’t shoot people in schools, grocery stores, or drivers in the next lane on the freeway. But they are individuals driven by anger, hatred and hateful ideologies. They are rarely truly mentally ill.

Road rage is not listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).

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The Buffalo grocery shooter was an alleged racist. Racism is not a DSM mental illness.

The deadly violence against LGBT patrons at the downtown Orlando nightclub in 2016 was domestic terrorism — not a symptom of DSM mental illness.

The mentally ill population is getting an undeserved bad rap. The majority of those with mental health diagnoses are harmless. They tend to be sensitive and withdrawn. They are not known for violence and guns.

Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit, ranks Florida 49th out of 51 states for access to mental health care.

If Florida lawmakers aren’t serious about passing important gun control legislation, and if they continue to mislabel mental health as the biggest factor in fatal shootings, they could at least back up their badass talk by prioritizing mental health. state health resources.

The state of Florida could benefit from a larger budget and more beds for its mental patients.

Mark Ryan, a registered nurse from Tallahassee, has worked at three DCF public psychiatric hospitals.

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