In the wake of Sandy Hook and the Aurora Colorado massacre, talking about mental health was all the rage within the pro-gun right wing. Unable or unwilling to step up in support of any kind of gun control – even simple background checks for firearms purchases – many throughout the NRA backed Republican party, attempted to deflect concerns over the widespread availability of guns and the role such plays in massacre shootings, by citing mental health as the root of the problem.
This was the game plan throughout most of 2012 and even through the majority of this year, but now, from the “party of no” comes yet another conscious effort to maintain the horror and regularity of mass shootings in the form of a hold placed on a Senate bill which seeks to strengthen American mental health treatment resources.
Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, who sponsored The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act, did so after numerous conversations with law enforcement personnel who recounted harrowing tales of encounters with people on the brink of madness, some suicidal, others homicidal or delusional, all of which they said, could have resulted in fatal tragedies but avoided doing so thanks to the limited mental health training they’d received.
The bill would also seek to improve mental health screening and treatment programs for military veterans, many of whom are suffering from largely undiagnosed or untreated post traumatic stress disorders and other trauma related mental health issues.
Despite the effort enjoying bipartisan support, with Florida representative Rich Nugent (R) introducing a bill to the Republican controlled house and thirteen Senate Republicans having signed on in support of the Senate version, the block put on the bill, which was done anonymously, has been revealed to be the work of Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn (R) and Utah Senator Mike Lee (R.)
Neither Lee or Coburn, who is commonly known as “doctor no” for his routine and often aggravating intractability, has yet to offer any comment or insights as to the nature or purpose of their efforts to block the legislation, but it is widely known that two Republicans share a devout anti-government sentiment of the variety which lends itself to pointless obstructionism.
Despite the hold, Senator Franken remains optimistic about the bill’s future saying,
There is pressure from law enforcement groups and attorneys from within his state for him to not block the bill. I think we’ll get there, but right now there is a hold on the bill.