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Pam Nolan
NOC Featured Blogger
Published: Monday 22 April 2013

 Can this country do what it takes to reduce gun violence? Let's talk about the issues involved. We'll start with President Obama's proposals. The President's plan includes four points:

  1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands
  2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and taking other common-sense steps to reduce gun violence
  3. Making schools safer and
  4. Increasing access to mental health services.

I like this. There's some good stuff here. Closing background check loopholes wouldn't have affected Newtown, granted. But it might stop suicides and domestic shootings. And making straw purchases a felony might stop some of the street sales of guns in inner cities. I have mixed feelings about banning assault weapons, but I can get behind banning high-capacity magazines that let someone rip off 150 shots in five minutes. That would definitely help in mass shooting scenarios, like the one in Arizona where the shooting was stopped when the shooter had to stop to change clips. Some people think that stopping gun violence is a gun control issue. I also have mixed feelings about "making schools safer." There is some evidence that school resource officers (SROs), who are supposed to make schools safer, are criminalizing childish behavior and teaching kids to distrust police. But others say this

Published: Monday 25 February 2013

 I've been looking at the President's plan to reduce gun violence. There's some good stuff there, but I have lately wondered if there is too much emphasis on mental health. As if mentally ill people are the only ones shooting people. The President's plan, in the section on background checks, says some alarming things. It contains a whole section on mental health care, and it discusses mentally ill people in the section about background checks. The plan uses the euphemism, "dangerous people," to refer to mentally ill people. So now, along with being called nutjobs, maniacs, lunatics, and monsters, we are "dangerous people." The NRA's LaPierre calls for a "national database of the mentally ill." I guess we get put on his list, whether we are "dangerous" or not, just because we happen to be sick. But that's not right. The majority of gun violence isn't attributable to mental illness, so don't blame crazy people for it. There's no word for that except "scapegoating." In an interview, Pamela Hyde, JD, administrator of the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration warns that we must "disconnect the discussion about mental health from the discussion about violence. While there is no question that some people with mental health problems perpetrate violent acts, so do lots and lots and lots of people who don’t have mental health problems."

Published: Thursday 17 January 2013

Today's in-box contained a letter titled "Message to Our Nation’s Health Care Providers" from the US Department of Health and Human Services. Its release today suggests that it is part of the President's new gun policy proposals. The letter says, in part, [T]he Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule does not prevent your ability to disclose necessary information about a patient to law enforcement, family members of the patient, or other persons, when you believe the patient presents a serious danger to himself or other people. It goes on to say that The HIPAA Privacy Rule. . . . allows the provider, consistent with applicable law and standards of ethical conduct, to alert those persons whom the provider believes are reasonably able to prevent or lessen the threat. This is bad. Take a look at the letter and see what you think. When I read it, I see confusion. The letter bounces around a lot, telling providers that the HIPAA Privacy Rule doesn't prevent them from betraying their clients' confidentiality, talking about their "professional ethical standards," "the laws applicable to their profession in the states where they practice," and ending with "providers play an important role in protecting the safety of their patients and the broader community." This letter/policy will have two effects: 1.    Clients will not trust their providers. But a client's relationship with her/his therapist must be based upon trust. Some clients or potential ...

ABOUT Pam Nolan
Pam Nolan is a retired software engineer from northwestern Pennsylvania. She is an unapologetic liberal specifically because she is a Christian, since Jesus said a lot about money and “the least of these” but nothing about LGBTQ people or abortion. She has suffered from Major Depression and sees mental illness from a unique perspective. Some of her work may be cross-posted at
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