When people needed mental health care, Republicans gave them more access to guns

by | Sep 1, 2023 | Editor's Blog | 9 comments

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.


  1. Sean D Sorrentino

    I’m saddened, but not surprised, to see that you support Jim Crow pistol purchase permits.

  2. James Neal

    “Despite the public, political, and media narrative that mental health is at the root of gun violence, evidence is lacking to infer a causal link. This study examines the temporal associations between gun violence (i.e., threatening someone with a gun and gun carrying) and mental health (i.e., anxiety, depression, stress, PTSD, hostility, impulsivity, and borderline personality disorder) as well the cross-sectional associations with gun access and gun ownership in a group of emerging adults. Waves 6 (2015) and 8 (2017) data were used from a longitudinal study in Texas, US. Participants were 663 emerging adults (61.7% female) including 33.6% self-identified Hispanics, 26.0% white, 27.0% Black, and 13.4% other, with an average age of 22 years. Multivariate logistic regression indicated that, individuals who had gun access were 18.15 times and individuals with high hostility were 3.51 times more likely to have threatened someone with a gun, after controlling for demographic factors and prior mental health treatment. Individuals who had gun access were 4.74 times, individuals who reported gun ownership were 5.22 times, and individuals with high impulsivity were 1.91 times more likely to have carried a gun outside of their homes, after controlling for prior gun carrying, mental health treatment, and demographic factors. Counter to public beliefs, the majority of mental health symptoms examined were not related to gun violence. Instead, access to firearms was the primary culprit. The findings have important implications for gun control policy efforts.”

    SOURCE: Yu Lu, Jeff R. Temple, “Dangerous weapons or dangerous people? The temporal associations between gun violence and mental health”,
    Preventive Medicine, Volume 121, 2019, Pages 1-6,

  3. Dianna

    I am shocked that you would scapegoat people who suffer from mental illness in this way.

  4. Ted Fillette

    The Dems ought to buy thousands of TV ads with 15-second bites that use the title of your blog and a photo of some of the mass shooters. They could run them continuously from May to November 2014.

  5. Rick Gunter

    Thank you for a powerful column, really first-rate.

  6. Jay Ligon

    Republicans have calculated that the slaughter of our children and neighbors is worth the bribes they take from the gun makers. When pressed, they propose curing some societal ill that has been insolvable and a condition before any form a gun regulation.

    At one time, Republicans said that unless crime could be eliminated, guns were needed by everyone. The problem with crime is that there will be times of fewer crimes and times where we endure greater crimes, but crime will never be completely eliminated. So gun makers were free to sell hundreds of millions of guns..

    The latest unsolvable societal ill is mental health. Until mental illness is eliminated, everyone needs a gun. The very first bill passed by the Republican Congress with Trump in the White House made guns available to people who are mentally ill. That sounded crazy then even as a pretext for never regulating gun purchases. Since the passage of that law, insane people with guns have been responsible for much American carnage.

    Republicans say we must solve mental illness as they defund programs that would contribute reducing the incidence of mental illness. They don’t mean to alleviate mental illness. They are using something incurable as a pretext for taking money from the gun makers. So gun makers will be free to produce lethal weapons until our psychiatrists perform a miracle.

    There will always be a problem society has never and will never solve that will be a pre-condition for dealing with the slaughter of our children and our neighbors. .Republicans need that money like addicts need their heroin. If there were suddenly a cure for mental illness and crime vanished tomorrow, Republicans would find some other reason to take money from the gun makers. Slaughter is a small price to pay to enable Republicans to collect their blood money.

  7. Laura Reich

    Because of gerrymandering and then convincing Cotham to switch parties the Republicans can do whatever they want. Their policies are very unpopular with the majority, but they don’t care. I’m hopeful that our new young NC democratic president will start to end the supermajority and eventually the majority.

  8. jimbuie

    Well said!

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