As I sit watching the coverage of the Newtown CT. school shootings I realize that virtually every mass shooting can be linked to some sort of mental health issue. Some of the shooters have been methodical in their planning to kill with a gun, while others just “snap” and go on a rampage. Regardless, family, friends and associates, if not the actual shooter, realize the gunman is under mental stress or is having a mental health crisis and needs help. Because those closest to the shooters may not be able to restrict his access to guns, we need to seriously consider a national tax on gun and ammunition sales to fund the support and expansion of mental health services in our communities to intervene with help.
Mental health care is expensive
Unfortunately, even with health insurance, getting mental health services such as counseling, therapy and evaluation can be difficult. Barriers to mental health care are just the lack of services and the cost. Often times long term and crisis intervention mental health services are some of the first government expenditures to be cut when budgets get tight. This leaves those in crisis and their families with few options other than watching a slow deterioration of the mental condition.
Stable funding source for mental health care
In an effort to expand mental health services and crisis help lines, we should consider a national tax on all gun and ammunition sales. Even though gun violence comprises a small percentage of the total mental health issues our communities face, they have the most profound consequences and impacts. Part of the money could potentially go to direct intervention, some to long term mental health management and perhaps the remainder for counseling of the victims and families.
Focus on the shooter, not the gun
While there is definitely room for other gun control measures, we almost unanimously agree that the mental stability of the shooter is the primary cause of the rampages. A national tax on gun sales and ammunition avoids any complaints that a proposed gun control law is infringing on the 2nd Amendment or it is the first step towards confiscation of firearms. The tax speaks to the mental health of the shooter and not the restriction of the legal gun or ammunition.
Law enforcement should have a role
Improved access to mental health care will not stop all gun violence or perhaps even all mass shootings. But similar to AA programs for alcoholics or traffic school for DUI offenders, expanded mental health care will certainly reduce the number of tragedies we have seen. The collected tax revenue could be distributed in the form of grants, jointly administered by county mental health providers and law enforcement, to those areas that have the greatest risk for gun violence.
Although, there should also be a mechanism to allocate funds for intervention through out the whole nation. I have no clue at this point how much money could be raised through such taxes. The Congressional Budget Office would be able to calculate a reasonable estimate.
Not perfect, but at least I am offering an idea
I’ll be the first to admit that taxes suck. Gun owners will wonder why they are being singled out as a tax base for expanded government services. Unfortunately, the revenue has to come from some place. “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people”, is a familiar refrain we hear about gun control. Well, now is time for the community that supports guns, to support a solution to gun violence in America.
If you support a tax on the sale of guns and ammunition, please contact your elected congressional representative or Senator and ask them to introduce such legislation. You can also sign a petition calling for a national sales tax on guns and ammo.
White House Petition site http://wh.gov/QPeJ Facebook Page
Here are some responses as to why some folks are signing the petition: