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Ethan Ellis

People with disabilities should be terrified by the debate over gun control legislation and its apparent defeat.

Issues that are critical to our survival were missed, misrepresented or ignored. Here are four of the casualties.

 

1. The discussion of the obvious mental illness of the mass murderers created the impression that everyone with a psychiatric disability is walking around with a 30-shot Bushmaster hidden under their coats, waiting to do us in. While massacres like Sandy Hook are the tragic work of a tiny number of sick minds, people with psychiatric disabilities are infinitely more likely to be murdered than to murder. Not only have they been unfairly stigmatized in the aftermath of Sandy Hook, there is a great danger that they will suffer more harm than good in any rush to ʻfixʼ our already failed mental health system.

 

2. Gunshot wounds are the major cause of disability among teens and young adults. Work on a rehab ward as I have and you will see the havoc our inability to construct a sane gun control policy causes up close.

 

3. More people use guns to kill themselves than to kill other people. Suicide rates are higher among people with developmental disabilities than any other group, including Native Americans, who come in second. Thoughts of suicide are common among adults who acquire severe disabilities and suicide rates are alarming among members of the armed forces, many of whom have been severely physically or psychologically disabled.

While thereʼs no data on how often people with disabilities use guns to kill themselves, the data we have show that guns are by far the implement of choice for self-destruction.

 

4. Nothing signals the death of democracy in this country more than the failure of Congress to pass gun control legislation. It is common knowledge that we have the best government money can buy. Rich people pay for laws that let them pay less taxes and the poor and middle-class make up the difference in higher payroll taxes and less services.

 

We spend more money on ʻdefenseʼ than all other nations combined and less on our

social safety net than any other developed nation.

These are the economic and political realities of our countryʼs landscape. They have emerged so slowly that most of us havenʼt noticed how little the majority of us count anymore.

However, when Congress refuses to pass a gun law that 95 percent of Americans want, it is impossible to deny that democracy is dead. And since democracy is our only hope to be included in this society as equals, we had better make common cause with others who are trying to raise it from the dead.

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