Don’t limit 2nd Amendment rights based on mental disabilities

January 2, 2013 

After a tragedy like the massacre at Newtown, we shouldn’t make rash judgments that could result in unnecessarily limiting our Second Amendment rights. Wayne LaPierre is right when he says that the only defense against bad guys with guns is good guys with guns.

Let’s not restrict otherwise good citizens from their access to weapons because they’ve been labeled by society as mentally deficient or mentally ill. I suffer from a form of mental illness known as obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD. Whenever I am in an unfamiliar setting, I feel compelled to count the number of people in the room. This mental illness has affected my ability to function in the workplace and in many social settings. My reasoning and judgment, however, are not influenced by my OCD.

I have a relative in his late 40s who has an intellectual deficit disorder, or IDD. He has the mental age of a 12-year-old. Neither of us has ever committed a criminal offense. My relative with IDD has lived in a house with a shotgun in the bedroom closet all his life. Both he and I are as vulnerable to criminals with guns as any “normal” person might be.

There are more than 60 million Americans with mental disabilities. I’m not very familiar with other so-called mental illnesses, but perhaps many of them should also not have their access to guns denied. We accommodate the handicapped in their access to public buildings and we design jobs to allow them to be productive members of society. Let’s not rush to eliminate the Second Amendment rights to keep and bear arms just because of some generic label of mental disability. Let’s take our time and get it right.

The writer lives in Myrtle Beach.

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