How “Gun Control” Laws Stigmatize Disabled People

content warning: mass murder, violence, ableism and saneism

In the wake of the terrorist attack in Las Vegas, Nevada that killed 59 people, there’s been a lot of talk about stricter gun control laws.  It may sound like a good idea, but it’s more complex than just restricting guns from certain people.

Many lawmakers are pushing for restrictions on people with “severe mental illness”.  They’re calling for background checks on people with psychiatric and mental health disabilities, to see if they’re “stable” enough to handle a gun before they can buy one.

The problem with this proposal is that it perpetuates stigma towards people with mental health disabilities.  It suggests that no person with a mental health disability should own a gun because they’re all “crazy”, and might go off and start a killing spree.

That kind of thinking puts people with mental health disabilities in danger because they’re much more likely to be the victims of violence instead of the perpetrators.

Disabled people have been victimized, physically, psychologically and even sexually since the dawn of time.  Disabled people of color and LGBTQ disabled people are especially at risk of enduring violence.

Violence isn’t always physical.  Sometimes it’s verbal too.  Bullying, threatening, gaslighting, putting somebody down and discriminatory rhetoric are all acts of violence.

Rhetorical violence leads to trauma as much as physical violence.  When I was in elementary, middle and high school, I endured tons of rhetorical violence from educators and school administrators for simply being disabled, and whenever I talked about it with any of my therapists, most of them gaslight me, which is why I don’t trust most therapists today.

Violence of any kind also leads to mistrust of many people because the victim is vulnerable whenever they open up to another person, and that other person may or may not choose to at least try and understand what that person’s going through, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

If you have privilege in a group (i.e. race, religion, sexuality, gender, class, etc.), be willing to listen to the marginalized person, and ask if there’s anything you can do to help them.  If they say no, don’t force it.  Just tell them that you’re sending good vibes, thoughts and love.  Avoid telling the person that you’re praying for them unless you know that they’re religious because that might make them more upset.  Know your limits as the person’s ally.