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In wake of shootings, mental health agenda builds steam on Capitol Hill

December 20, 2012
by Dennis Grantham
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As noted in this article from The Hill, mental health advocates have wasted no time in the wake of last week's Sandy Hill Elementary School shootings to bring the case for mental health treatment and education--and against the public health threat of high-capacity, assault-style rifles--to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

The aftermath of last Friday's tragedy has riveted Congressional attention on new mental health legislation, including a measure from Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) to support new mental health services in schools and a measure from Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) and Rep. Jason Altmire (D-Pa.) to encourage the expansion of Mental Health First Aid training on college campuses.

It has also renewed Congressional attention to existing measures, including the Excellence in Mental Health Act sponsored by Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) and Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), that would create federal standards and oversight for community mental health providers.

Behind the scenes, another coalition of mental health leaders, led by ACMHA, the college of behavioral health, is preparing to recommend three new measures to Congress and the Administration.  The first of these is expected to call for a doubling of the nation's mental health and addiction treatment capacity; the second for education programs that would offer instruction about mental health and addiction issues in the nation's schools; and the third for a ban on assault-style rifles and high-capacity magazines, which are said to represent a significant public health problem.

On that note, while I watched the early TV coverage of the elementary school shootings last Sunday morning (the 17th), I was stunned to see an Sunday newspaper ad that Bushmaster .223 assault rifles were on sale for $899--$100 off--at Gander Mountain, my favorite place to buy fishing tackle. Of course, the Bushmaster was the most powerful weapon that Adam Lanza brought to Sandy Hook Elementary on that fateful day.  

Out of curiosity, I looked up other Bushmaster dealers in Northern Ohio, and found 15 within a half-hour's drive of my hometown, where 6,000 children are enrolled in elementary and high school. Hope these dealers offer a special on gun safes as well.  

 

 

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Dennis Grantham

Dennis Grantham

@BH_dgrantham

www.behavioral.net