The Republican response to the shooting in Chapel Hill has been disturbing. They’ve downplayed the emotional trauma while making excuses for their utter failure to address the gun violence that is terrorizing our country. They blasted Democrats for politicizing the tragedy. One GOP operative listed the laws the shooter had likely broken, never mentioning the laws that the Republicans passed to make guns more accessible. They insisted that we have a mental health crisis, not a gun problem.
Well, in 2015, when Republicans controlled all of state government, they cut more than $250 million from mental health services. That’s right. They took a quarter BILLION dollars away from people who needed help. In addition, they refused to expand Medicaid for more than decade, leaving thousands of more people without access to mental health care. So if we have a mental health crisis, Republicans helped create it.
In other words, Republicans have spent the past 20 making sure that guns are far more accessible to people with mental health problems. They’ve told their base that Democrats are coming for their guns, causing panic buying that has seen an explosion of guns on our streets. Gun manufacturers have made billions. Consequently, the country has, by far, the highest per capita gun ownership in the world and a gun murder rate that puts us in the company of narco, states, warzones, and failed states. Emotionally and mentally disturbed people lack access to treatment but easy access to firearms. What a recipe for disaster.
Just this year, Republicans ended the requirement for pistol permits and the state house has passed a bill that ends concealed-carry permits. Republicans have refused to enact red flag laws that will help keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. You know, because more guns make us safer.
To their credit, Republicans seem to realize their mistake on mental health. The state house proposed a $1 billion plan to shore up the mental health system. Of course, we don’t have a budget and the state senate hasn’t signaled it’s on board with the plan. Regardless, they’re trying to fix a problem of their own creation.
After 12 years of writing budgets, we’re starting to see the real impact of GOP rule. Our mental health system is in a shambles at a time when people need support badly. We have hundreds of thousands of working North Carolinians who lack health coverage because the GOP has failed to expand Medicaid. We have more guns and less restrictions. We are less safe because of GOP policies.
In North Carolina, when people needed mental health care, Republicans gave them guns.