The U.S presidential election is approaching with great rapidity, it seems that just the other day we were debating in the student center at university about what John Kerry’s policies actually were, and suddenly, it’s eight years later.
I don’t live anywhere near the United States but the nature of the beast is such that regardless of where you are in the world, you are, to some degree affected by who is in charge of the United States. (I’m not going to split hairs and nitpick about the separation of powers, that is a blog for another day.)
The other day someone shared a link to iSideWith.com a site which polls your opinion on a number of policy issues and then gives you a result about who you align with in this presidential election. I think that it is a very well done site and I urge my United States readers to check it out.
But, there was one question that irked me. For the question “Do you support increased gun control?” One of the options was “No, only for individuals with mental health issues and convicted felons.”
Um, excuse me, there seems to be quite a conflation here. Having a mental health issue and having been convicted of a felony are two distinct things, I acknowledge that there is a small level of cases where a convicted felon also has mental health issue, but these are in the minority of cases.
Society needs to take a stand about this kind of conflation because this is part of the reason for the stigma attached to mental illness. Mental illness for the most part is not a choice, it’s a reality that people live with. Committing a crime that results in a felony conviction is the result of a series of choices. (I’m working on the assumption here that there was a competent defense and an ethical prosecutor.)
I understand that this question is framed against the backdrop of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, but it does not excuse the conflation and increase of stigma.
Hopefully, one day this stigma will become a thing of the past. In many ways having a mental illness can be likened to having a condition like hypertension or diabetes, no one would propose stricter gun control on that basis.
Love and hope,