, Muskogee, OK

January 3, 2013

THE PEOPLE SPEAK – Background, mental health checks needed

— I know that this letter will likely generate much opposition, yet I believe that this issue is so grave in its nature that it must be addressed. Abraham Lincoln said it best: “To remain silent, when action is called for, makes cowards of all men.”

Under Title 21; Section 1289.12 of the Oklahoma Statutes, it is against the law to sell firearms to an individual who is mentally disturbed or unbalanced.

However, unless you actually witness someone acting outwardly in a manner this would lead you to conclude that they were mentally disturbed, there is no way to know whether or not the person a firearm is being sold to is mentally unbalanced.

Therefore, I believe, one way to help counterbalance this problem is to create a database which links all facilities in the state — civilian and military — which provide mental health care and treatment services in order to thoroughly check whether or not an individual who is past a certain age has ever received mental health treatment, is currently under a mental health professional’s supervision, and ever been treated for drug and alcohol abuse — before they can even be allowed to purchase a firearm.

I agree that such a measure may be somewhat invasive of an individual’s privacy, yet I seem to remember that law enforcement officers have to take a personality profile inventory before being eligible to carry a firearm — an inventory which contains questions that would actually be considered quite personal if not invasive.

Yet, that safeguard exists to ensure that we are not entrusting our safety to individuals who might be mentally unstable.

I, myself took that same profile; I passed it.

Remember ... just because a person does not have a criminal history does not mean that they are mentally stable enough to be in possession of or openly carry a firearm.

That is why I believe that a thorough adult mental health history background check is important; your life and/or someone else’s may vary well depend upon it.