Ft Lauderdale airport shooting brings up many issues

The  Ft Lauderdale airport shooting has some calling for more gun control. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel is one of them.  He said the he believes people suffering from mental illness shouldn’t be allowed to purchase firearms.

I would first like to say that our hearts go out to those who were hurt and wounded. Also huge Kudos to the Broward County Sheriff who was on scene in seven seconds.

The news is repeating this over and over again and I am not sure they even understand what they are talking about. There are many issues with someone who delusional having a gun.  Non of them have to do with gun control. There is a difference between competence and incompetence. You have to be adjudicated incompetent. It’s not an easy process.

nearly 5 in 1 Americans suffer from mental illness

Nearly 5 in 1 Americans suffer from mental illness. It ranges from depression to psychosis with a lot in between.

It has been reported that Esteban Santiago had delusions. He had treatment. His gun was given back to him (by the FBI not the treatment facility).  Many people are outraged by this. Unfortunately there is really not much any one can do. If you are admitted to a psychiatric hospital and have a gun  it is taken and put in the safe and returned to you when you are discharged. I do not think the police have any right to take away a gun from a person who owns one lawfully and is not doing anything to threaten anyone.

How to deal with a delusional person with  gun?

As a home health psychiatric nurse and one that has worked in multiple psychiatric hospitals I have had to deal with being worried about a patient with a gun. There is not much I can do. I usually ask a family member to take the gun and hold on to it. Sometimes I ask them to take it apart.  One person take one part and another person take another part. I can’t call the police. I can’t say much. It’s a HIPPA violation. If a person lawfully has a gun and they are not threatening to use there is nothing we as mental health workers can do except worry. We worry about the patient and we worry about all the possibilities.

It’s not against the law to be delusional. Nor is it in Florida a Baker Actable (sic) offense.

From Web MD

Delusional disorder, previously called paranoid disorder, is a type of serious mental illness called a “psychosis” in which a person cannot tell what is real from what is imagined. The main feature of this disorder is the presence of delusions, unshakable beliefs in something untrue or not based on reality.

People with delusional disorder generally experience non-bizarre delusions, which involve situations that could occur in real life, such as being followed, poisoned, deceived, conspired against, or loved from a distance. These delusions usually involve the misinterpretation of perceptions or experiences. In reality, however, the situations are either not true at all or highly exaggerated. If the delusions could not happen in reality (aliens, television broadcasting your thoughts) then a person might be considered delusional with bizarre-type delusions.

People with delusional disorders often can continue to socialize and funtion

Apart from the subject of their delusion, and generally do not behave in an obviously odd or bizarre manner. This is unlike people with other psychotic disorders, who also might have delusions as a symptom of their disorder. In some cases, however, people with delusional disorder might become so preoccupied with their delusions that their lives are disrupted.

There are a lot of delusional people walking around. Some have treatment and some do not. Just because they are delusional does not make them incompetent.

In this case we do not have a gun problem. We have a mental health problem. In Florida we have a treatment problem. So lawmakers instead of coming out and having this discussion about guns that just ends in people yelling at each other and polarizing us all can we please have a discussion about mental health? Can we please have a discussion about what to do when someone has a gun and they are delusional? What can we do to keep this person and in many cases other people safe? All this within the parameters of the laws of the land.

Don’t send money to the NRA or your anti gun people. Send money to the people who will help mentally ill people. This is not a gun problem. It is a mental illness problem. By repeating this whole “the mentally ill should not have guns” without a discussion of prevention and safety and even understand what your talking about does not being this conversation forward. It polarizes it.

Guns on planes

I  also found out that most people have no idea you can check a gun as luggage and pick it up on the other side.  I never really gave this much thought  until I was traveling to Telluride for my sister’s wedding the November after September 11th. I really did not want to fly. I made a little bottle of spray with essential oils (so good for you but  can be very stingy to the eyes). We had hunters on our plane. I was never so happy to see a group of hunters in my life. I thought. “If anything happens the hunters will keep us safe!”

Maybe they move the activity of checking a gun or picking it up  to another safer place but it’s a crazy notion to think that this practice will end.

I see a lot of headlines scaring people. This does the mentally ill who need our help no good. I see a lot of people that want to change laws due to this incident. Let’s not change laws. Let’s have a discussion as how to prevent this by taking care of our mentally ill people.

Please feel free to chime in!





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