Letter: Treat the mentally ill, but don't arm them

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I read with interest the column “Guns don’t cause violence, but prescription drugs do” by William Linnell. I am also a gun owner and a veteran who grew up around guns.

Mental illness is far more prevalent than many people imagine. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, one in every five adults in America experience a mental illness and nearly one in 25 (10 million) adults in America live with a serious mental illness. Of our prison population, over one quarter suffer from mental illness.

The Harvard School of Public Health did a study in 2002 that demonstrates there is a relationship between firearm ownership and suicides. People who are depressed and have suicidal thoughts are more likely to commit suicide if they have access to a gun.

But mental illness and the medications doctors proscribe to help them are not the cause of violence. Every country has mentally ill people; we just arm them better. One thing we need to do is insist on universal background checks on all gun sales and transfers. We might be free to own guns but we should take responsibility to see that they do not end up in the wrong hands.

Fred W. Nehring
Boothbay 

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