Apr 11, 2013 8:27 PM by Erika Flores

Gun control and mental healthcare debate

TUCSON - A bi-partisan agreement was reached on expanding background checks to include gun shows and internet sales.

A different bill introduced last month, explores stricter reporting of the mentally ill, but some argue that's not a good idea.

They hope those elements do not see the light of day.

Forensic psychologist Joel Dvoskin tells News 4 Tucson that gun violence and mental illnesses do not always come hand in hand, and legislators need to be very careful when trying to group the two.

"The link between people with serious mental illness and guns is politically very convenient, but it's pretty stupid," said Dvoskin.

He said those who commit violent crimes are in an emotional crisis and not necessarily mentally ill.

"They're regular people whose lives have fallen apart," said Dvoskin."What these folks have in common is despair, rage and feelings of insignificance."

S-480 would broaden the meaning of mentally ill for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

"That bill is written so broadly even a Veteran with PTSD could very well get caught up in a determination that would make him a prohibited possessor," said Ken Rineer with Gun Owners of Arizona.

The bill says a judicial officer, court, board, commission or other adjudicative body could find the person mentally incompetent to have a gun.

Although those in favor of strengthening mental health records believe it will cut down on violent crimes, others advocate for more mental health treatment rather than policies.

"25 percent of us will have a mental illness in our life. Are we going to put all of them on the list?" said Dvoskin.

The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee.

Dvoskin said more investment in the mental health institution could be part of the answer.


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