Wayne LaPierre by Gage Skidmore
Dear Mr. LaPierre,
Recently, I read a blog post by the National Alliance on Mental Illness, which comments you made about the Navy Yard shooter in the "Meet the Press Broadcast" that aired Sept. 22. Your words were "If we leave these homicidal maniacs on the streets, they're going to kill." You also claimed that people living with mental illness are "violent" and "evil minded."
Now, I realize after every massacre you come under fire because many mass-shooters obtained their guns legally. Personally, I don't think that's right to blame you or the NRA considering I know gun owners personally who wouldn't hurt anyone and it's their hobby. It's not my personal choice in hobby but I completely respect those who are careful with their guns and follow the law. I also respect a difference in opinion if it is actually thoughtful and intelligent.
That said, I found that you are completely wrong with all due respect in your assessment that all mentally-ill people are evil-minded and I know that from a personal standpoint. I take offense to your comments and find them downright ignorant, baseless, and outdated. As someone living with bipolar disorder, I have never hurt anyone. That is not to say, at one time, before I decided to take treatment seriously for my own benefit, I didn't think about hurting myself and that's because I didn't want to believe the fact that I had an illness due to the stigma associated it. Opinions like your own were the reason I never got help or never felt comfortable around people. It wasn't until I wanted to get better and disregarded the majority view that I was able to move forward.
Let me tell you something about mental illness--it's awful and it's something I would never wish on anyone. At my lowest of lows, I thought about ending my own life just to not be a bother to anyone or to live up to the stereotypes that are expected of me by someone like you because I thought I would. But I am living proof that this illness does not define me and it never will again because I got treatment and put in the work myself. Bipolar disorder is a small part of who I am and it will be for the rest of my life since there is no cure. But it does not hold me back and it does not affect my relationships with people.
As you know, when massacres happen, the media and the majority blame everyone and everything they can think of from guns, to like what you stated--"violent, evil minded mentally ill" people, to video games, to Marilyn Manson--just anything to make sense of it all. The fact is people find these killers interesting even though those who tune in to around-the-clock coverage will never admit it. There is no motive behind a mass shooting and unfortunately it's not about the victims. There is no one to blame other than the killer. It's about them and their own self-hatred and selfish motivations to not be accountable for their own actions and the fact that they are suicidal. It's nothing else.
Now that I got that off my chest, you say you believe it's hard for the mentally ill to get treatment and that our healthcare system is broken yet you haven't made a single contribution to an awareness group. So, if you're reading this put your money where your mouth is and stand behind your statements. Make a contribution to a charity or continue to be an ignorant old man in the eyes of many. If you do this, you will actually gain a bunch of respect from a large community you incriminated. The fact is, we should not polarize groups of people to solve very big social problems ie: suicide, which is the 10th-leading cause of death in this country, and mass shootings. Instead we should work together and make adjustments to fix the issue. Obviously, as you and I know the political aspect isn't working anymore but knowing that people die daily from self-inflicted gun-shot wounds and kids aren't feeling safe in schools puts it in perspective--at least it does for me.
Again I don't blame you for being irrational when you and your views are accused of atrocities that aren't your fault and have nothing to do with you but I find you very uneducated about your own statements on mental illness. I also find them tragic because you furthered the stigma that is a reason a majority of the population affected by mental illness don't accept the fact that they need care.
Mary Lynn Ritch