In issuing executive orders aimed at curbing gun violence, President Obama has inappropriately linked mental health issues with gun violence. See the White House’s fact sheet at https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/01/04/fact-sheet-new-executive-actions-reduce-gun-violence-and-make-our
Item # 3 in the fact sheet conflates mental health issues and gun violence in ways that will undermine the civil and human rights of people with psychiatric disabilities and improperly link gun violence and mental health issues in the minds of the public.
- The President plans to report Social Security recipients who have psychiatric diagnoses and representative payees to the gun database, although there is no evidence that having a representative payee has any connection to an elevated risk for gun violence. This also undermines the Administration’s work to promote community integration and employment of people with disabilities. The Autistic Self-Advocacy network has issued a statement opposing this provision.
- A final rule “clarifying” that HIPAA regulations allow disclosure of psychiatric diagnoses to the Instant Background Check system was implemented, yet there is no evidence that HIPAA was a barrier to such reporting.
- The President proposes a $500 million initiative to increase access to mental health treatment. This would require Congressional approval, which is unlikely. The proposal reinforces the false link between gun violence and mental health. No details were provided, and there is concern that the funds could be used for coercive practices rather than voluntary, community-based services.
For more information on the concerning aspects of the President’s executive actions on gun violence, see this list of statements by national cross-disability organizations.
It’s important to let the White House know these actions have no logical basis, will harm people with psychiatric disabilities, and will not make our nation safer.
What you can do:
- Tweet your questions and concerns to Valerie Jarrett, Senior Adviser to President Obama at the Twitter account @vj44. Use the hashtag #StopGunViolence.
- Send an email comment to the White House at https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact
- Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111.