The Republican Party Doesn’t Give a Damn About the Mentally Ill

Whenever America suffers through a mass shooting like the one that happened in Uvalde, Texas yesterday, Republican politicians clamor on and on about the need to properly address mental illness. But they never do it. They never take the initiative. They never offer any solutions. To them, mental illness isn’t a problem to be solved; it’s an excuse for the party’s apathy and negligence on the issue of gun violence.

Mental illness is a convenient scapegoat for Republicans because it’s a biological problem, not a political one. The social costs of mental illness could be mitigated through legislative and policy changes, but mental illness itself can’t be cured through government action. So when Republicans insist that “we must do something” to properly address this issue, what they’re really saying is that it’s up to the medical community — not the government — to find a way to fix the problem.

This is not a gun problem. This is a mental illness problem. And mental illness isn’t a political problem. It’s a medical problem. So, stop pointing your fingers at us. It ain’t our fault!

This disingenuous approach to gun violence serves a twofold purpose.

Firstly, it obscures the catastrophic impact of America’s ineffective gun laws by exaggerating the threat posed by mentally ill citizens. But the facts are that the vast majority of mentally ill people are not violent, and that mass shootings carried out by severely mentally ill people constitute just 1% of annual gun homicides. So even if we magically found a way to cure every single form of mental illness known to humanity, it wouldn’t do much to reduce gun violence in America. To do that, we would still need the legislative fixes that Republicans refuse to support.

Secondly, it shifts the responsibility for finding a solution to gun violence away from politicians and places it exclusively on the shoulders of doctors, therapists, and the families and friends of those who suffer with severe mental illness. But mental illnesses can be notoriously hard to treat, and the resources needed to treat them aren’t that easy to come by. Mental health services can be incredibly expensive, even for those who have insurance. And finding treatment can be especially difficult if you happen to live in a rural area.

In that respect, the government could be of assistance. Congress can’t cure mental illness, but it certainly could make treatment more affordable and easier to access.

Republicans know that, but they don’t care. All their talk about “doing something” to address mental illness is just empty, meaningless rhetoric designed to absolve them of any and all responsibility for the problem of gun violence. They have no interest in making it easier for mentally ill people to get the treatment they need. They don’t want to spend the money to do it because that would mean raising taxes, and God forbid we raise taxes even just a little bit for the sake of people’s health and safety!

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