As a therapist, I have had the "get the guns out of the house" conversation many times. But here's the thing: it's not the person who is suicidal or severely depressed or angry that scares me most. It's usually their loved ones, the people who are not having a mental health issue, who need help understanding that they must remove the guns from the house. Rarely do people make the connection between their fear for the mental stability of someone and the guns laying around that need to be removed.
Here are some real conversations I have had with people:
"Your teenager is not stable enough to clean the guns."
"Your unlocked closet is not a safe place to hide the guns."
"Because the gun is only for hunting, doesn't mean he won't shoot a person."
"Alcohol and pain meds impair judgment. I am worried about what this person will do to you with the gun."
We need a massive media campaign to educate people on the connection between the access to guns and emotional instability, alcoholism, addiction, and depression and rage. People do not make the connection in their homes and don't know what to do. By the time they hear it from a therapist, it may be too late.
Everyone has a part in ending gun violence. Everyone has a part in creating safety. I know it is my job to ask about guns and educate. I know I have a responsibility to call law enforcement when there is a threat. And I do want to say, calling law enforcement may be my only resource,
but night after night on the news, I see rogue members of law enforcement doing the killing.
I am surrounded by an entertainment industry that entertains using violence.
A gaming industry marketing violence to children.
I don't think the biggest problem is the person who is emotionally unstable. Of course, I support better access to mental health care and ensuring people can get the help they need. But from my perspective, the larger problem is the mindset of our nation.
This is an issue that every single person can play a part in. What is your part?