GOAL TO LEGISLATURE – “ERPO IS A MENTAL HEALTH BILL… ISN’T IT?”
IF PREVENTING SUICIDES AND MASS MURDER BY PEOPLE DEEMED EXTREME RISKS ISN’T ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH, THEN WHAT IS IT?
BOSTON – The Gun Owners’ Action League of Massachusetts (GOAL) responded today to statements made by Rep. Marjorie Decker in a recent State House News Service (SHNS) article. Decker, lead sponsor of the ERPO bill was quoted as saying: “I think it’s really important not to conflate mental health with what we’re trying to do,” she said, calling ERPO “one tool” to limit suicide and mass casualty events.”
Jim Wallace, Executive Director of GOAL was incredulous to read Decker’s comments, “The ERPO bill is allegedly about preventing suicides and mass casualty events by people deemed “extreme risks to society” due to mental illness – yet we’re told by its sponsors not to confuse it with a mental health bill. That’s just ludicrous!”.
GOAL believes that these comments reveal the true motivations behind the legislation, “The sponsor openly admitted in her comments that this bill is not about helping people with mental illness. The only conclusion we’re able to make, therefore, is that this is in fact only about confiscating guns…”
In the same SHNS article Rep. Decker was also quoted as saying “Legislating involuntary commitments in our (extreme risk protection order) bill doesn’t make sense…”
Once again, the irony of this statement stood out to GOAL. “We recently witnessed hundreds of thousands of people marching for protection from mass murderers. Now, one of those legislators is saying that treating and providing long term and secure services for those with extreme and violent mental health issues doesn’t make sense?” Wallace said. “We have continued to offer reasoned alternative language that provides real and necessary mental health services and takes seriously the need for long term care for those who are an “extreme” threat to society. Unfortunately, it seems that ERPO supporters simply don’t want to expand this legislation beyond the gun-control bill that is currently proposed.”
With this new statement against mental health care by Rep. Decker now at the front of the debate, GOAL is calling on supporters of ERPO to reconsider their position. GOAL is also requesting that the bill be referred to the Joint Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Recovery where it can have the discussion about services that it rightfully deserves.
This is what the current Red Flag bill supporters are pushing for:
- Identify a person going through a temporary mental crisis, drag him or her through an arduous court process, label them an extreme public safety risk (which will stick with them for life and most likely exacerbate their problems), strip their civil rights, then send them home with no help or any measures to prevent them from committing suicide. The latest Massachusetts Department of Public Health reportshows that 93% of women and 78% of men who commit suicide in Massachusetts do not use a gun.
Preventing the next violent mass murder incident;
- Identify a severely mentally ill potential killer, take his or her “legally” owned guns away and set him or her free with no supervision, intervention, or medical help.
Here is GOAL’s solution-driven counter proposal (Note: Massachusetts law enforcement currently has the authority to revoke firearm licenses and confiscate guns.);
- Establish a Friends and Family Suicide Prevention Hotline– this would include web resources and text capability to ensure that people are able to access much needed information.
- The hotline will be staffed by people who are trained in suicide prevention, intervention, and mental health crisis management; and who are additionally specifically trained on the legal programs and systems available in MA.
- The hotline will provide information on what means currently exist for friends and family to successfully intervene in a temporary mental health crisis.
- Hotline staff would offer advice on how to conduct a thorough home sweep for materials or items that could be a risk to people in temporary crisis. This would include narcotics, RX medications, alcohol, poisons, etc.
- Direct the Department of Public Health to develop mental health wellness follow up programs.
- Direct the Department of Mental Health to develop public relations materials necessary to make the general public aware of available resources.
Preventing the next violent mass-casualty incident;
- Provide Judges ability to mandate secure treatment for people with severe mental health issues that have been determined to pose an “extreme” risk to get them qualified medical care.
- Enable judges to reduce the likelihood that a person who is severely mentally ill can cause harm. This would include giving a judge the ability to revoke, or at least recommend revocation of a wide range of State issued licenses or permits, i.e. a CDL license, license to practice medicine, firearms license, etc.
Establish a Commission to study suicide prevention and the mental health crisis.
The commission would conduct a comprehensive survey on suicide prevention and mental health crisis management. This commission will:
a. Examine and report on all current and proposed suicide prevention and mental health crisis management resources available.
b. Include a review of present and projected future needs for emergency outpatient, inpatient, and long-term care needs for those with mental health issues.
c. Report on the current statistics regarding suicide and the means of suicide as established by the Injury Surveillance Program under the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
Establish a fund suitable to accept donations from charitable organizations to assist the state in mental health services and suicide prevention.