Gun Control

Obama Wants to 'Remove the Stigma' of Mental Illness While Expanding the List of Former Patients Barred From Owning Guns

The president seeks to encourage psychiatric treatment while increasing the likelihood that it will result in the loss of Second Amendment rights.


White House

Among other things, the gun-related "executive actions" that President Obama is announcing today aim to "increase mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system." To put it another way, the president wants to encourage more people with mental problems to seek professional help while increasing the likelihood that doing so will result in the permanent loss of their Second Amendment rights. Those two goals may prove hard to reconcile.

The Obama administration is proposing "a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care," saying, "We must continue to remove the stigma around mental illness and its treatment—and make sure that these individuals and their families know they are not alone." At the same time, it is reinforcing that stigma by assuming that people forced to undergo psychiatric treatment can never be trusted with a gun. Obama wants to beef up the federal government's list of "people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons." Those reasons include court-ordered psychiatric treatment, even when the justification is protecting a purportedly suicidal person from himself.

A federal appeals court cast doubt on the constitutionality of that policy in a 2014 case involving a 73-year-old man who was barred from buying a gun because he had been forced to undergo psychiatric treatment decades before after an emotionally devastating divorce. His daughters were concerned that he might be suicidal, and a court ruled that he posed a threat to himself. Since then, he has not experienced any more bouts of depression. A psychologist who evaluated him in 2012 found no evidence of mental illness and concluded that the 1985 incident "appeared to be a brief reactive depressive episode in response to his wife divorcing him." Yet under 18 USC 922(g)(4), that one incident barred him from ever owning a gun.

Obama also wants the government's database to include people who receive disability benefits from the Social Security Administration and are deemed "unable to manage those benefits because of their mental impairment." In practice, that could mean that any recipient assisted by a fiduciary (a.k.a. representative payee) would lose his Second Amendment rights, even though the fact that someone needs help with financial matters does not necessarily mean he is incapable of being a responsible gun owner. As with mental health treatment, such a policy could discourage SSDI recipients who need help from asking for it, since they could lose their guns as a result.

Critics of New York's SAFE Act, which requires mental health professionals to report anyone they deem "likely to engage in conduct that will cause serious harm to self or others," have raised similar concerns. "The threshold for reporting is so low," a Queens psychiatrist told The New York Times in 2014, "that it essentially advertises that psychiatrists are mandatory reporters for anybody who expresses any kind of dangerousness." In practice, since the county officials who review such reports have little incentive to second-guess them, clinicians have the power to disarm any patient they think might be a danger to himself or others, which is not exactly conducive to trust or candor.

NEXT: Obama's gun seller policy seeks to chill rather than regulate

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Giving shrinks expanded ability to deprive people of constitutionally protected rights is totally going to get more people to go to the doctor for mental health issues.

    1. Also, first. Suck it, Fist.

        1. Don’t belittle my achievements!

    2. They’re just counting on your average American being uninformed enough to seek professional help when they need it. They’re not wrong. If the Bush/Obama years prove anything, it’s that voters are rarely aware of the things their government does right out in the open, much less the NSA stuff.

      People are still routinely surprised when they discover the TSA is a bag of rotting dicks. How many people do you think would get screwed out of RKBA before the knowledge was widespread among the hoi polloi?

      1. Don’t know. Depends on how long it would take before the gestapo ran into armed Americans laying in wait.

        Some of us have read the “Gulag Archipelago”.

    3. This was definitely a factor I considered strongly before seeking mental health assistance.

      OTOH, it’ll be nice to have my paranoia diagnosis dropped. I mean, it’s no longer paranoia when they really are out to get you, right? 😉

      1. Nonsense, nobody’s out to get you. Now, if you’ll just step over here and follow these nice fellows…

    4. I shall call it… Catch .22

    5. i think cops are exempt from this

      1. Oh good, I’d hate the people who ride around with zero accountability and guns to have to show they’re not insane before they do so.

    6. i think cops are exempt from this

  2. …and make sure that these individuals and their families know they are not alone.

    To drive that point home we will send numerous poorly trained yet armed state agents to surround you.

    1. He’s a model citizen
      I think I’ve got them fooled again
      He’s an ultra-sweety guy
      I won’t let down my disguise
      He’s a model citizen
      Just keep believing that my friends
      I’m a model citizen

  3. “Mental health issues” are very easily defined, which should make this a very smooth process.

    1. The left thinks righties are nuts.
      Righties know lefties are nuts.
      Taking guns from nut-cases will have everyone in those groups disarmed.
      Lib/prog Nirvana.

  4. Casting an increasingly larger net over those for whom the second amendment won’t apply.

  5. Like everything he does, it will have the EXACT OPPOSITE effect that he seeks.

    Shit, maybe this guy is playing some sort of fourth dimensional chess….

  6. Hillary Clinton says aliens may have paid us a visit

    1. She’s not competent to own a gun, but should she be elected, she’ll control the most powerful military in the history of the planet. What could go wrong?

      1. a drone strike on all the women that bill molests

  7. Most obvious means of expanding this is through the VA.

  8. Ah, yes, someone on government benefits who is unable to make financial decisions for himself should of course be denied the right to vote…

    Wait, Obama wants to let them vote, but deprive them of the right of self-defense?

    That’s messed up.

    But it is fully in harmony with Democratic Party principles – of course they want people who don’t know how to make responsible financial plans to be able to vote – how else to make sure that supporters of irresponsible federal borrowing and spending get elected?

    Self-defense is a *natural law* right, it should take a *lot* to deprive someone of it.

    Voting is a *positive law* right, justifying restrictions should be difficult, but not as difficult as justifying restrictions on natural law rights.

    1. Obama wants to let them vote

      Force them to vote, if I recall correctly the interview he gave shortly after the 2014 election.

    2. Obama knows that voting is just a feel-good measure for the masses. The game is rigged.

  9. Well seeing how the field of pscyhology is over 90% very liberal and they are getting pretty damn close to labeling conservatism and libertarianism as mental deficiencies, I have no fear that this will ever keep law-abiding sane citizens from getting a gun.

  10. Yeah, nothing reduces a stigma like saying you can’t be trusted.

    1. Or that a horrifying murder rampage involving other people makes clear the urgent necessity of disarming you.

  11. “Obama Wants to ‘Remove the Stigma’ of Mental Illness While Expanding the List of Former Patients Barred From Owning Guns”

    I don’t know how many of you have heard of Margaret Singer. She’s not Margaret Sanger–the Planned Parenthood lady. Anyway, Margaret Singer was a clinical psychologist that wrote about mind control, what people call “brainwashing”–specifically how it works, how it’s done.

    One of the things she wrote was that the more contradictory the cult’s basic doctrine is, the more effective it is in getting people to believe it on an instinctive level.

    It’s very similar to the suggestion that things are too complicated for us to understand, and that’s why we need to take the word of experts. That quickly morphs into the idea that believers are smarter than non-believers because they understand (contradictory) things that are too hard for other people to understand.

    Obama’s followers act just like they’re in a cult. And cult techniques are what they are because they’re effective. They’re effective at getting people to believe and support things they wouldn’t believe or support without those techniques. And Obama employs them constantly. If Obama weren’t a politician, he would have made a great leader of some new age cult.

    1. I never took a class in psychology but a couple books made me think of different ways people are manipulated, including to political ends. Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, for example, is a great book I found eye opening. I’m still working on Thinking, Fast and Slow but it also has my pea brain applying information in the book to things I see and hear on a daily basis.

  12. Government ‘treatment’ for mental illness is simply DSM 5 indoctrination. This will create a whole new class of people who will be told: “Here take this drug and don’t stop or you’re liable to kill someone with your guns.”

  13. If I mention to my doctor that I feel anxious and depressed over Obama’s supra-Constitutional actions to limit my rights and liberties – including those protected by the 2nd Amendment – will I end up on the list of people who can never own a gun?

    1. Count on it.

  14. people should not trust him, he tried to take away citizen’s right without due process over a secret terror/no-fly watch list and now he wants power to decide who in mentally fit to defend themselves? i wouldnt trust joe biden with a gun anymore than dick cheney. i think the government wants to disarm the mentally ill so they cant defend themselves and become victims, thereby eliminating them from society, social cleansing, especially if they are on disability because then the government wouldnt have to send them a check anymore. this administration seems to want an armed class and a victim class.

  15. Mental health is the avenue to gun control..
    It was used to confiscate guns in Eastern Europe prior to WWII..

    American Psychiatric Asso: Half of Americans are mentally ill..
    After crafting by politicians and Media all will be crazy except for them..

    300 million prescriptions for psychiatric drugs were written in 2009 alone..
    Your children on medication for ADHD?
    Single woman with children diagnosed with depression?

    Be careful what you ask for…….

  16. Mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin..

    Deceptive Transformation: The Truth of Soviet Influence in America and Gun Control..

    The idea of using mental health as a weapon against the people is communist in origin, and the social sciences, or the studying of human behavior has its roots in early twentieth century Russia when Ivan Pavlov developed his
    “classical conditioning” theories. In fact, Pavlov was disturbed that Vladimir Lenin would use these conditioning methods against the people in order to get them to accept communism. Since that time the social sciences have been used as a means of maintaining control over populations and getting them to accept their own down fall.

    Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.


    1. This is happening today in the United States as our universities and public schools have long ago adopted educational techniques based on the social sciences and classical conditioning methods. Subjects like White Privilege and Multiculturalism are used to demoralize our population, create a guilt consciousness and silence usinto accepting a new agenda based on the idea that we have been unfair, and our lifestyles are oppressive, and offensive to others. This agenda dates back to the early twentieth century; however, it saw some of its most major advances in the mid 1900’s after the U.N. was created in 1945. While many people today view the Democrat Party as being made mostly of communists or socialists; the sad truth is that the Republican Party is just as responsible for what we are seeing in education and culture in the United States today.

      Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.


  17. As I wrote in “Not on My Watch: Exposing the Marxist Agenda in Education,” Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan, two presidents that were considered American Patriots, actually signed agreements with the Soviet Union that gave them influence over U.S. education, culture, scientific and technological research, radio, television and finally, medicine. This is according to U.S. Department of Education whistle blower, Charlotte Iserbyt. It is the area of medicine that should draw your attention because as mentioned earlier, Soviet medicine revolved around the idea of mental health, and classifying people that were opposed to communist objectives as being mentally ill. This is where the Surgeon General’s claims about banning guns being a part of medicine comes from. Slowly but surely, they will work to associate gun ownership with mental illness. From the 45 goals of the Communist Party USA


    1. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose Communist goals.

      (Note: Many websites are now appearing claiming this list of communist goals to be a hoax. If you read them for yourself you will see many have been accomplished and that they bear a striking resemblance to many things currently happening in the U.S. The claims that they are a hoax could be a deliberate misinformation campaign headed by the Information Regulatory Affairs office led by none other than Cass Sunstein. Just looking at the state of our society, it is clear that these goals are not a hoax.)
      While the move for an Article Five Convention seems to be gaining momentum, you should take heed. There is another constitution waiting in the winds and it won’t protect your rights to keep and bear arms.


  18. Well, if anyone would know “crazy”, it is Mr. NPD himself.

  19. What will happen is that people will be frightened away from getting mental health care since its purpose, like in the Soviet union, is as a weapon to be used against the individual.

  20. And if declaring that someone is mentally ill doesn’t work, you can always label them a terrorist…

  21. Reference to 18 USC 922(g)(4) is found in the above article. USC, standing for United States Code, otherwise the law of the land created by The Congress, would appear to be the villain in this case, either by virtue of the law as actually written or by bureaucratic abuse, given such latitude in and or by the law, as written by The Congress. A poor show either way.

  22. By the way how come there always seems to be Room For Abuse in the writings, the law, as produced by The Congress, Room Not Long Left Unoccupied, and why does The Congress seem so lackadaisical in the correction of it’s “legislative errors”, to use a polite phrase.

  23. Strikes me as more Obama double-talk.

  24. The gun grabbers noticed that they could not suppress the facts in mass shootings and it kept coming out that they had mental problem histories and were often on psychoactive drugs. So they are trying to enact over zealous mental policies that will not bear court challenges in order to say they tried restricting access to people with mental health problems but the republicans killed the plan and then go for banning guns instead which was the real plan all along. Deceit and fraud as usual.


Please to post comments

Comments are closed.