Do Not Allow People With Severe Mental Illnesses to Own Firearms

Target: Barack Obama, President of the United States

Goal: Make it mandatory for people who want to purchase guns to disclose their mental health records and further make it illegal for anyone with a severe mental illness to own a firearm.

Guns can be purchased by people with unstable mental health histories in most states. Activists need to take action to try and change requirements for buying firearms so that more people will be safe from mass shootings in the future.

In the United States a person may not own a gun if he or she is unable to handle his own affairs, has been found to be incapable of standing trial, has been ruled by the court to be capable of hurting himself or herself or others, has been involuntarily placed in a mental institution or has been found not guilty because of mental state under the Uniform Code of Military Justice. However, people in many states who have been diagnosed with a mental illness can earn back their rights to purchase firearms. Yet a large number of these people remain untreated, making it less likely they will be able to responsibly handle a gun.

People may be safer if America adopted New Jersey’s methods for purchasing firearms. A person cannot get a permit or a FPIC (Firearms Purchaser Identification Card) to purchase a gun if he or she has ever been confined to a facility due to a mental disorder, refuses to disclose mental health records or cannot provide two character references. Police can also deny people from owning firearms if they feel an individual doing so is not “in the interest of public safety.”

Urge the president of the United States to play an active role in suggesting and supporting potential legislation that would require in-depth mental health checks be done for anyone who tries to purchase a firearm, and to further make it illegal to own a gun if a person has ever had any type of major mental illness so as to better ensure the safety of all citizens.


Dear President Obama,

Today, even people who have volatile mental health histories can eventually purchase a gun if just one person believes he or she is competent enough to do so. It is important that this change in order to decrease the likelihood that more citizens will become victims in mass shootings.

People found to be mentally incompetent are not legally allowed to purchase guns under federal law. However, in most states these same people are allowed to eventually buy a firearm if others think they have become competent enough to handle one. Meanwhile, only around 20% of adolescents who are diagnosed with mental health issues get treated. Less than one third of adults with such issues are able to get treatment.

A good plan would be to emulate how New Jersey handles gun purchases. A permit or identity card to buy a gun may not be purchased without a person disclosing his mental health records, if a person has ever been confined to a mental institution, or if two character references cannot be provided. Considering most people are unable to get proper treatment for their mental health issues, it is absolutely absurd that anyone who has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness is legally able to purchase weapons of any kind.

I therefore urge you to take an active role in suggesting and supporting legislation that would require all United States citizens to fully disclose their mental health history before being permitted to purchase a firearm and to make it against the law to own a gun if a person has been diagnosed with a severe mental illness. Many more people may die in another tragic event, such as the recent one in Oregon, if such changes are not immediately made.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Cyril Thomas

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