“We collectively are answerable to those families who lose their loved ones because of our inaction”.
For a moment, let’s assume it’s a genuine concern and not what doctors might describe as a defense mechanism – as in, “The National Rifle Association won’t allow me to advocate for universal background checks on gun purchases, so what can I say to sound sympathetic after a mass shooting?” Renee Binder, president of the American Psychiatric Association, asked, “How many more reminders do we need that mental health has to be a high priority?”
With many news reports categorizing the recent mass shooting in Oregon as the work of yet another mentally ill person wielding a gun, John Oliver is refusing to follow that narrative. Rather than do a segment on gun control as might have expected, he did a segment on mental health. “You have people that are mentally ill”.
Oliver is critical of GOP candidates in the presidential 2016 race who pointed to America’s lackluster mental health care in the wake of the shooting that killed 10 people in Roseberg, Oregon.
Oliver concluded that we do owe mentally ill people a plan as long as we use them to dodge gun control debates. “Because, for the record, the vast majority of mentally ill people are nonviolent”, he said, calling out candidates like Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee and Donald Trump. Oliver also debunked Trump and Carson’s argument that the prevalence of gun violence is related to mental illness: The vast majority of people with mental illness are non-violence, and less than 5% of mass shootings are committed by the mentally ill. But that won’t be easy because of the “clusterf***” of American agencies devoted to mental health. “Sometimes, even TV personalities with doctor in their names can get it disastrously wrong”, said Oliver. From decrepit psychological asylums-dubbed “snake pits”-to necessary electroshock remedy, it’s all the time been a multitude”.
“As a society, we have to figure out how to fund [mental healthcare programs]”, Oliver said. “Often, when someone is having a mental health emergency, the police will be called and that can end tragically….”
Instead, he argues mental illness is only used in an effort to shield and steer away from questioning the proliferation of America’s gun accessibility.