We have some good news, however, following the Sunday night massacre in Las Vegas, which killed 59 and wounded more than 550 others in a hail of automatic weapon fire rained down from a casino onto concert-goers on the streets below: The House GOP has put off plans to make silencers easier to purchase! For a while anyway. Feel better? Other than that, it's either "premature" to discuss legislative changes to help curb America's 30,000+ gun deaths per year, or time to pull out the old "mental health reform" scam again, as House Speaker Paul Ryan did today when pressed for what action Congress might take after the latest "worst mass shooting in modern US history."
While toy guns are illegal to carry on the streets of Vegas, real ones are not. Not even fully automatic machine guns. And even a statewide ballot measure passed by Nevada voters last year to expand background checks has been declared unenforceable by the Republican, NRA-owned state Attorney General Adam Paul Laxalt. So, if the only thing that the terrorist-enabling NRA will allow to be enacted in order to prevent a man who was allowed to lawfully amass 42 military-style assault weapons and thousands of rounds of ammo from committing mass murder is "mental illness reform", are Republicans even serious about that much?
We're joined by veteran journalist ART LEVINE, author of the new book Mental Health Inc: How Corruption, Lax Oversight and Failed Reforms Endanger Our Most Vulnerable Citizens (and next week's Newsweek cover story) to discuss Republican hypocrisy after Vegas, and how the hopes of forcing mandatory medication by the Right and concerns about stigmatizing the mentally ill on the Left, have all helped to prevent real mental health reform.
That, even as the American College of Physicians calls for an assault weapon ban in response to the "public health crisis" of our gun death epidemic in the US, existing laws to prevent gun use by the mentally infirmed that go unenforced or are otherwise being repealed altogether, and a mental health reform bill which was already passed by Congress and signed by President Obama last year.
Ryan "apparently doesn't know that the Congress — he is the head of the House — actually passed a bill called 'Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act'. In other words, it's such a trope, and such a nostrum that's thrown out — they throw it out like a tic — when in fact there was a law (already) actually passed! That is one of the areas of hypocrisy about it," Levine tells me, as he cites the hypocrisy of those who oppose improved gun safety laws and claim to support mental health reform while voting for ObamaCare repeal and cutting back Medicaid. "They are moving forward (with) a war on people with mental illness, opioid addiction and chronic pain."
Levine cites a program by Los Angeles County which he writes about in his book, and describes as "a world-class preventative outreach program that stopped over 50 campus attacks." Yet, he goes on to explain, the successful program is "a political orphan" because the Right won't cite it as a national model ("their big golden goal is mandated drug and outpatient treatment") and neither will liberals and mental health progressives ("it stigmatizes people" as being potentially violent, even though the mentally ill, he says, are far more likely to be the victims of gun violence, rather than perpetrators of it.)
Finally, Desi Doyen joins us for the latest Green News Report as Trump finally goes to Puerto Rico for a few hours (to blame the victims of Hurricane Maria) and as China finally forces GM to get back into the electric car business. Also today: Rock in Peace, Tom Petty.
We'd love to get your feedback at email@example.com