Mass collaboration with disability rights groups. Wisconsin’s branch of the National Disability Rights Network, along with more than 20 other national organizations came together for one specific purpose. The goal was to address the growing concerns over the RESPONSE Act, which stands for Restoring, Enhancing, Strengthening, and Promoting Our Nation’s Safety Efforts. Senator Cornyn first introduced the legislation, and it’s the first step towards address mass violence from a federal stance.
The outlying concern, however, isn’t the stance on mass violence. It’s the misrepresentation of the mentally ill as violent offenders. Statistically, those who have mental illness are more likely to become victims of violent crimes rather than the perpetrators. The proposed RESPONSE Act focuses on people with mental health disabilities as possible perpetrators.
Now the organizations that gathered together to fight for the rights of the mentally disabled are arguing that there is clear evidence against the RESPONSE allegations. The collective organizations revealed consistent findings across many studies that of all gun violence, those with mental health disabilities made up 4% of the violence committed.
Officially, the letter came from the Coalition for Smart Safety. It declared that the RESPONSE Act falsely accused those with mental health disabilities as perpetrators of violence. That the only factor addressed in the Act to reduce mass violence was a greater gun violence assessment for those with mental health concerns.
The letter continued to state that the reform of mental health disability care and assessment is necessary. However, pairing gun violence, mass violence, and mental illness is not the answer. The Coalition insists that Acts like this are necessary to address the mass violence epidemic. However, federal action should not take prejudice or spread fear against those with mental health disabilities. Clearly, more will come on this as the RESPONSE Act continues through the process of investigation, review, and approval.
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