Where politics is personal not partisan

Politics and Princesses – Guns & Mental Illness – Fire & Ice

Crazy Man With Gun
Politics and Princesses - Guns & Mental Illness - Fire & Ice

In the US, we finally started connecting severe mental illness with mass shootings, and now we’re removing laws to keep them from getting guns?

As part of the writing experience I run this weekly column, Politics and Princesses, here at Practical Politicking.  Many of the issues that I choose to write about are ones I feel a connection with, but a periphery connection nonetheless.  Recently I’ve written about Transgender issues and rights, not because they affect me directly, but because I consider myself an empathetic, human-rights driven individual.  I wrote about Donald Trump’s immigration ban and the possibility of building a wall along our southern border.  Does it affect me directly?  Not really considering I am an American-born, white, Christian.  Over the past few months I have chosen time and time again to defend both groups and individuals that certain policies and ideologies are adversely impacting.  These days there seems to be no shortage of mistreated persons.

Congress recently voted to block a rule preventing roughly 75,000 mentally ill persons to  purchase firearms.  Pro-gun and mental illness advocates rejoiced.  Why?  Well they firmly believe that they are protecting a constitutional right, the right for all American citizens to bear arms, even the severely mentally ill population.  To deny this population firearms apparently stigmatizes the mentally ill as violent and infringes upon their Constitutional rights.

Holy smokes.

Meanwhile I sit here with a giant pit in my belly.  For the first time I am no longer writing from the political periphery. I am writing on behalf of the directly affected.  I am writing as a mother and former teacher special education teacher.  Congress has just allowed the mentally ill, those not completely grounded in reality, to tote around semi automatic weapons and as a mother of two tiny girls sitting in their elementary school classrooms right now I could burst into tears.

Let’s be clear about one thing.  I am not some “Snowflake Liberal” trying to take your guns.  I don’t want your stupid ass guns!  If you want to sit in a deer blind all Sunday afternoon and shoot animals, gut them and fill your freezer with their meat, awesome.  I could care less.  I am no animal activist nor vegetarian.  In fact I love venison.  I have no shortage of conservative, right winged friends who own firearms or are avid hunters.  One recently invited my husband and I to come to his private shooting range and test a few handguns out.  Yes, we McCarthys have thrown the idea around of buying a firearm ourselves.  See I am not as left winged as you might think.  These gun owning friends of mine are good people and law abiding citizens and yes they have every “right” to carry a firearm.  I am in full support of mentally sound Americans purchasing hand guns or hunting rifles.

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Now let me ask you something.

Have you ever walked into a silent, pitch black school only to be pushed into a classroom full of frightened third graders because you were in a lock down situation?  Were you shaking with fear, responsible for 25 little lives?  I have and I was.

Do you have a background in mental illness?  Do those Congress Men and Women who just pushed forth this block have backgrounds in mental illness?  I do.  I actually hold a Master’s Degree in Emotional Impairments and Behavior Disorders.  I have sat on multiple committees and in more professional circles than I can count advocating for the mentally ill and discussing and researching best teaching practices for such individuals.

Have you read the DSM-5 lately?  Do you even know what it is?  You should roll through it.  For the unaware, it is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.  Here you will encounter anything from learning disabilities to ADHD to paranoid schizophrenia to Borderline Personality Disorder.  Many of these conditions are totally harmless…some not.

Have you stood in the hallway with scratches and bruises on your body from physically restraining a mentally ill student as they strapped him to a gurney and carted him off to the local hospital.  I have.

Have you ever had a conversation with an individual with both a low IQ and a complete break from reality?

Have you ever seen a Schizophrenic nine year old flip a couch with one hand?

Taught in a building with alarms and padded cells?

Read a CA-60 thicker than your fist?

I have done all of these things and some more and let me tell you, certain forms of mental illness can be a truly frightening thing.

Adam Lanza

Eric Harris

Dylan Klebold

James Holmes

They all had/have varying degrees of mental illness and this recent reversal just made it nearly simple for the next mentally ill shooter to purchase a firearm and waltz into a public arena blowing away innocent individuals.

Individuals like this.

And this…

And finally this.

These are my children.  My dearest little lambs.  You have just put them in danger for no good reason at all.  In an effort to create fairness and secure Constitutional Rights among gun owners and the mentally unstable (and we are talking REALLY mentally unstable here- don’t think I don’t recognize the difference) you have taken away my children’s basic rights to safety.  As I type this those little girls are sitting in an unsecured building half a mile down the road from my home.  Right now one is on the playground, swinging and playing with her six year old friends.  The other is in science or math class, which she loves and excels at.  They both are excited for the Daddy Daughter Dance tonight.

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On December 14th, 2012, 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary School,  laid bleeding to death on their classroom floors.  Brains splattered, blood draining from their tiny bodies.  Never again would they run into their parents arms, nuzzling into their safe, warm bodies.  Never again would they hold their daddy’s big, strong hand dancing the night away at their Daddy Daughter Dance.  A mentally unstable individual with access to firearms took that away.

I taught on December 14th.

I sent my Kindergartner off to school that day.

I cried my eyes out and held my children tighter than I ever had before sobbing on the kitchen floor.  I am crying a little right now even remembering it all.

Never will I forget that desperate and sinking feeling that comes with complete and utter sadness.  Sadness for those children, their families, communities, our country and myself.  Sad that I had to send my kids to school in fear.

Get over your “fairness.”  If you have split personalities, hear voices, see things that aren’t there, have severe depression, breaks in reality or choose to go rogue on your meds, you get no guns.  How dare you even suggest such a thing! Kids get cancer and die.  That is not fair.  People have accidents and become paralyzed, also not fair.  Life isn’t fair.  So if you really want to be fair you can go ahead and right your wrongs Congress.  You gave the mentally ill the ability to blow my daughters away in the middle of art class and now you can get to work and ensure their safety for me.

How about you put armed guards at every door now.

Policing of schools?

Armed police cars patrolling the playground?

Bullet proof glass on the building?

Are you going to be doing any of those things Congress?  No you won’t because you don’t give a rip about my tiny persons, but you sure as hell care about your stupid ass guns.

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Kristin McCarthy
About Kristin McCarthy 27 Articles
The proud mama of four little darling girls in devil's horns. After receiving a Masters degree in Special Education and teaching for a number of years I "retired" in order to stay home with the kids and devote my life to the wonders of domesticity. Somewhere in between scrubbing floors and cooking food that no one will eat I found my way into writing. When I am not busy folding laundry, vacuuming up dog hair and toys and keeping the kids alive I can be found writing on my snarky little blog Four Princesses and The Cheese or for other publications that are kind enough to tolerate me such as Red Tricycle, Suburban Misfit Mom, Sammiches and Psych Meds, Blunt Moms and BonBon Break.

4 Comments on Politics and Princesses – Guns & Mental Illness – Fire & Ice

  1. Kristen; powerful piece. I was 10 years old when the Dunblane massacre happened in Scotland, and I will never forget hearing that 16 children had been shot dead by a man known to have problems. How on Earth he was even allowed a gun certificate when he was accused on several occasions of inappropriate behavior with children. I lived only 40 miles away, and he had visited my school previously. School was never the same after that — neither were our gun laws. I remember security cameras being put up around our playground, and during non-recess hours visitors had to be given access to the building via a buzzer system and show appropriate identification. I think Congress have made a bad move.

  2. Fiona I appreciate your comment so much. It had such an impact on me as both a mother and a teacher. It bothered me even writing it down. The article has had some very negative backlash as Americans love themselves some guns. Thanks for taking the time to read it and realize the perspective which it was written from.

  3. Sorry but that is not what Congress did. Obama put in a rule—likely unconstitutional—-that said Social Security Disability recipients who had someone handling their affairs, could no longer own a firearm. That covered people with physical disabilities as well. Poorly written. Did not address mental illness specifically. Congress shut it down. Are you really worried about folks on SSI committing crimes with guns?

    • I understand that the former was flawed, however I don’t think the stop was the most mindful plan of action either. Discussing the ins and outs of gun legislation was not the intent of the article. If I wanted to write 2000 super tedious words on gun laws I would have certainly included more pertinent research. Offering perspective as a mother and former teacher who perhaps has had far different experiences than yourself was the intent of the article.

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