Oak Parkers Against Gun Violence (OPAGV) recently met for the first time. The group’s efforts are galvanized by the recent referendum that showed, not surprisingly, most Oak Parkers are against gun violence.

Since the seriously suicidal, criminals, some abusive spouses and the dangerously mentally ill (DMI) commit almost all the gun violence in our society, this is where OPAGV will direct its efforts.

I begin with the least common, by far, of the four classes of gun violence, violence committed by the DMI. Preventing mass murders such as the Sandy Hook School shooting is one of the main goals of the committee.

Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania submitted a bill to the House of Representatives earlier this year that dealt with exactly this issue (HR-3717, 2013-2015). The bill had bipartisan support for effective measures to stop the DMI from harming society as well as themselves. (Because of purely political considerations, the 2015 mid-term elections, the bill was blocked by the kindly grandmother, Nancy Pelosi, the House Minority leader.)

As a former practicing clinical psychologist, Rep Murphy is well suited to look into ways to deal with the damage wrought by the DMI.

One of the bill’s provisions makes it easier to involuntarily treat and/or commit the DMI. (Currently, this is almost impossible to do until the individual commits a crime.)

The bill directs money to be spent on dealing with the DMI, not the bullies and neurotics who present very little danger to society but currently get almost all of the federal mental health funding.

The bill loosens privacy restrictions on mental health information in the event of a serious threat to society or the mentally ill individual.

Predictably, the opposition is mainly the hard-core mental health rights advocates, who prioritize avoiding stigmatization and the rights of the DMI over keeping both the afflicted individual and others in society from being harmed by their actions resulting from their illness. They appear to prefer the DMI die with their rights on rather than get treated and live on!

The Oak Park Board of Health (OPBoH) has recently come under fire for why is it needed anymore. Here is a valuable task for it to perform: identify the DMI in Oak Park and arrange for voluntary treatment. No worries about stigmatization since involuntary commitment and/or treatment will require changes in state or federal law.

How should the OPBoH identify and arrange for treatment of the DMI?

John Erickson

Oak Park

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