As our Congressional leaders now begin to debate gun control measures on the floor of the Senate, we must not lose sight of the potential implications of proposed laws requiring background checks, and increased security in our schools — particularly in African-American and other under-served communities.
Any legislation passed by the Congress must not contribute to the stigma of mental illness, nor have the disparate impact of increasing the number of African-American children in the criminal justice system. Legislation which seeks to implement mental health security standards and police enforcement at schools not only discriminates against those who have mental health illnesses, but suggests they are inherently prone to violence.
Without question, our nation must put political partisanship aside and finally take up this matter for the protection of families affected by gun violence and to prevent gun violence altogether. The proposals now under consideration will have real consequences for individuals who suffer from mental illness, and for the educational environments of our children.