The Senate just voted 68-31 to move forward with debate on expanding background checks, a measure overwhelmingly supported by the public, including 91% of veterans in a new poll.
Of course we still have people out there that think expanded background checks won’t help, like John Cornyn:
Sen. John Cornyn (Texas), the second-ranking Senate Republican, called the bill under consideration “a symbolic gesture” and said Congress should focus more on bolstering federal funding for mental-health programs: “We need to make sure that the mentally ill are getting the help they need, not guns.”
I totally agree with what Cornyn is saying here and have been saying mental health needs to be part of the gun violence debate. After all, only a mad person can go in and take so many innocent lives. But this coming from Cornyn is rather curious.
Here’s a pop quiz. Which President worked hardest to destroy mental health in this country?
If you said Ronald Reagan, you would be right. During his tenure as President, Reagan cut funding for mental health treatment and research. He decided to move mental health from the public sector to the private sector and with that we started seeing the closure of our nation’s mental health facilities.
When you think about gun violence in our nation, especially these mass shootings, and then consider when our mental health services were cut, you start seeing a trend. These big shootings started becoming more epidemic in the 90’s and have continued growing since. On top of that, most of the shooters are ones who have grown up under the system that Reagan built. See the trend?
So to hear a Republican like John Cornyn say we need to spend more in mental health is really a contradiction to what the hero of the Republican Party, Ronald Reagan, did. That means I can’t really believe in what Cornyn is saying and think it’s just another smokescreen to ignore the issues.
Hopefully I’m wrong on that, as I strongly believe we need to invest in the mental health of our nation, but I got a funny feeling I’m not. We haven’t heard enough debate about mental health since Newtown, and that is a big part of the debate that we should be having.