Paul Ryan Blamed Vegas On Mental Health, But Wants To Gut Health Care

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Ryan, who has repeatedly tried to ax mental health care, is the last person who should discuss mental health reforms in the face of mass shootings.

 

NBC News recently revealed a talking points memo by the White House that forbids Republicans from condemning the Second Amendment.

However, it seems speaker of the House Paul Ryan did not need any persuasion — he already has a plan on how to evade the issue of gun control: blame it on mental health.

“I think one of the things we’ve learned from these shootings is that often, underneath this, is a diagnosis of mental illness,” said Ryan on Tuesday. “This is why we spent years working on mental illness reform, with Congressman Murphy’s bill, and that’s why the House of Representatives passed landmark mental health reform just a year ago. That law is now being implemented. So I think it’s important that as we see the dust settle, and we see what was behind some of these tragedies, that mental health reform is a critical ingredient to making sure that we can try to prevent some of these things from happening.”

There are so many things wrong with Ryan’s remarks.

First of all, there is no evidence that Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was mentally ill. According to the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, only 5 percent of gun crimes are committed by mentally ill people. In fact, countries which have a higher percentage of mental illness do not have a higher percentage of gun deaths, according to economist Richard Florida. He did find one thing of note though: States with tighter gun control have fewer deaths by gun violence.

Secondly, it is hypocritical of Ryan to talk about improving mental illness reforms in the face of the Las Vegas shooting, when not two weeks ago, he was advocating for the doomed Graham-Cassidy bill that would have made it legal for insurers to remove mental health coverage from their policies.

 

Earlier this year, Ryan also pushed the American Health Care Act, another bill that sought to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and which would have ended access to mental health care and drug abuse treatment for millions of Americans.

And in February, the Republican-led House made a move to block an Obama-era rule, without which it would be much easier for mentally ill people to buy guns.

The rule forced Social Security Administration to identify recipients who were mentally incapable of managing their own affairs and then registered them in database for background checks. The GOP chose that time to decide it was discriminatory toward people with disabilities, and in a bid to strengthen gun rights under President Donald Trump, the House Republicans voted 235 to 180 to scrap the law.

Therefore, Ryan, who has a long record of denying people mental health treatment and who has advocated for lax gun laws, should be the last person to discuss mental health reforms.

And let’s not pretend: This is just subterfuge to divert attention from debate of stricter gun laws. Mental health issues are much too serious to be used as a scapegoat to shut up people who are calling for tougher gun control, especially by people like Ryan who have done nothing to help the mentally disabled.

Banner/Thumbnail: Reuters/Yuri Gripas

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