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Should the Mentally Ill Be Barred From Owning Firearms

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/6/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 843 times Debate No: 104790
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (13)
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First, this is intended for someone that believes in the fundamental right to own a firearm, and is thus about the specific rights of the mentally ill to own them. While mentally ill is a term that varies in use, I'm also specifically talking about more serious illnesses, that many people tend to consider as making people more dangerous (depression, schizophrenia, bipolar, etc.). But if you want to bring up others, by all means do so.

The facts are important for this argument. The mentally ill are not exceptionally more likely to commit crime than others. According to this article ( the main case in which violence was noted was if medicines weren't taken. And they're also more likely to be victims (

Statistics are not even necessary to make this argument, as depriving people of their rights over a statistical probability to be more violent smells like discrimination. Men and blacks are more likely to commit crime, but does that make it okay to only allow white/asian women to own guns? So not only is there a small increase in violence, but my contention is that even if there were it would not merit state persecution of all the mentally ill.

So why would want to ban them from owning weapons? Some say that it protects them from themselves, due to the fact that most gun deaths are suicides, and there is a link between mental illness and suicide (I assume this is undisputed, but if you want to contend that point I can find a source). But this assumes that depriving many of their rights in order to protect a few from themselves would be justified, which I disagree with. By that logic, why are they allowed to own cars? Why don't we just lock them all up for good to protect those that would kill themselves? You can't violate someone's rights just because they're more likely to harm themselves; that's as ridiculous as banning people from spending a certain amount on shopping, because some would spend too much.

The main question is how can you justify taking away guns from the mentally ill?


Thank you, Owl, for hosting this debate. I hope you don't forfeit like my previous opponent.

I strongly believe people who suffer mental illnesses should be barred from owning firearms. I have two arguments:
1. Suicidal Tendencies
2. Risk of Violence

1. Suicidal Tendencies (Depression and Bipolar Disorder)
A suicide attempt is a clear indication that something is gravely wrong in a person"s life. No matter the race or age of the person; how rich or poor they are, it is true that most people who die by suicide have a mental or emotional disorder. The most common underlying disorder is depression, 30% to 70% of suicide victims suffer from major depression or bipolar (manic-depressive) disorder. [1]

To bring more depth,
25 million Americans suffer from depression each year.
Over 50 percent of all people who die by suicide suffer from major depression. If one includes alcoholics who are depressed, this figure rises to over 75 percent.
Depression affects nearly 5-8 percent of Americans ages 18 and over in a given year.
More Americans suffer from depression than coronary heart disease, cancer, and HIV/AIDS.
In fact, people with bipolar disorder may be more of a threat to themselves than anyone else in their lives. Innocent bystanders may be worrying unnecessarily about their own safety when the reality is that bipolar disorder can lead to a lot more damage to the person living with it.
Suicide or attempted suicide. Rates of suicide are significantly higher among people with bipolar disorder than their peers. People with bipolar disorder are close to nine times more likely to commit suicide than their peers.[2]

In 2015 (latest available data), there were 44,193 reported suicide deaths. Currently, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. A person dies by suicide about every 11.9 minutes in the United States. Every day, approximately 121 Americans take their own life. [3]

There is solid facts and evidences that show massive impact of mental illness to suicide. It is not the tenth leading cause of death for nothing. When given the opportunity to own firearms, the mentally-ill has a greater chance and a quicker way to ending their lives. It is counter-intuitive to the purpose of protection.

2. Risk of Violence (Schizophrenia)

Some estimates have put the incidence of violent behaviour amongst people with schizophrenia at around 10-15 %. Others have put the incidence of violent behaviour or threats of violent behaviour as high as 23%. How does this compare with other mental health issues? Well, studies have shown that people with schizophrenia alone are less at risk of violent behaviour than those with depression, bipolar disorder, personality disorders or substance abuse problems.

A study carried out about 14 years ago found that around 11% of unlawful killings in the UK are committed by people suffering with schizophrenia but that the number was declining by about 3% per year. More recent work has found that about 30 of the 600 murders in the UK each year are committed by schizophrenics. So the average probably lies somewhere between 5 and 10%. [4]

Schizophrenic people tend to become what they are because of a history of traumatic stress. They assume multipersonalities in an attempt to block the emergence of bad experiences from their daily thoughts. They mentally become a hot-headed punk today and a sweetheart tomorrow. An introvert artist the next day and a sharp-tongued scholar the other. The danger in this illness is the multitude of forms in which their mind takes and we don't know how many gruesome characters will arise. Another complexity that occurs is the lack of awareness of a committed crime since people with MPDs have selective memories pertaining to the mental character at use. Would we allow these people to handle guns by themselves? The idea is absolutely horrendous.

So, I advocate for the prohibition of possession of firearms to mentally-ill people for (a) they can easily end their lives when they are in a gloomy fit and, (b) their traumatic history and abnormal cognition makes them more violent. They should stay in a safe haven or be accompanied by an educated guardian so that they can't harm themselves and others. I shall expound on matters that I intended to paint gray on the succeeding rounds.

For these reasons, I affirm.

Debate Round No. 1


Thank you for accepting the debate. You listed a lot of sources about suicide, and I won't refute-- as I mentioned suicide in my argument. I'm sure it makes it more dangerous for them, but I don't believe in confining the rights of the majority of mentally ill people in exchange for keeping the minority from harming themselves. Without a gun, some that would commit suicide might never, but the number of lives a government ban would save isn't enough to take away the rights of the majority of mentally ill people. In the US at least, a supreme court case (O'Connor vs Donaldson, established the rights of the mentally ill to not be incarcerated with out evidence of being dangerous to others. I don't know about other countries, but I assume most of the first world has a sense of rights for the mentally ill. This should translate easily to gun rights. Both involve a belief that an individual is dangerous, yet without evidence that that particular person is prone to violence it isn't reasonable to infringe on their rights.

You talked a lot about Schizophrenia and violence statistically, and I will refute some of your points, but like I said earlier, even if there were an increase in violent behavior on average, it would have to be very large to be justifiable for a blanket ban. On average, men are more violent than women, and on average blacks are more violent than other races (I can find the statistics if you'd like, but it was more a general point). Does that excuse taking away the rights of entire groups on a legal level? Why shouldn't only white and Asian women own guns? At the end of the day, we could compare averages and take away the gun rights of half the country. If the mentally ill can be an exception and have their gun rights taken away, why not anyone else? So while I'm sure there's somewhat of an increase in violent tendencies, I don't think it's as much as you think (as I'm about to go over) and I don't believe it excuses taking away their guns.

Now, moving on to what you said, you talked a lot about mpds, yet didn't cite your source. And schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder are very different ( "Contrary to popular misconceptions, people with schizophrenia do not have multiple personalities.". This was a mischaracterization, and I'm inclined to believe that your sources that you didn't list (past the fourth source) might be incorrect. As for the fourth source, it seems to be correct from what other sources suggest, although the 5-10% seems more correct overall. But how many of those would be prevented by a gun ban? The few that commit murder (and by your own study, in the UK only 30 murders, granted with severe gun regulation overall), which is not by any means the majority of mentally ill people, would have to be filtered out specifically, and (as can be seen in US mass shootings) many get through that legislation. Then you have to assume that many wouldn't simply use another weapon (after all, of someone is mentally ill and wants to kill someone, they aren't usually prone to giving up). Even if we're talking about a thousand or so deaths per year, like in the US (, how many would that really save? And at what cost? Mentally ill individuals are far more likely to be the victims of violent crime, (; shouldn't they be able to protect themselves? And of they would, might they not prevent some trauma that might increase their chance of committing violence? The evidence of a ban working to strongly prevent deaths isn't there, and the debate acknowledged that guns are already considered to be a right, so with such weak evidence how can you justify taking away their rights? You talked about keeping them in a "safe haven", but most mentally ill individuals don't want to be locked up in some place where they can be "safe" (just look at all the legal issues surrounding confining them against their will, even when there was evidence of violence). A large percentage of the US at least (relatively large, enough to matter) has one of these mental illnesses. 3.4% have major depressive disorder alone ( We can't have all these people in a "safe haven". Nor can we remove other rights, like being able to drive a car. That could kill people. Is it a good idea to keep 3.4% of Americans crime driving? Brits? What would that do to the economy? Many mentally ill people manage somewhat normal lives. They have rights. They can own a car. Why can't they own a gun, too, if we've agreed it's a right?
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Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
13 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Owlblocks 2 years ago
Actually, if you look, I'm taking the con issue against other people that believe in the right to own a firearm. Probably other republicans, but there are pro gun democrats. I'm surprised you didn't mention Mexico. Gun control works awfully well there /s

Also, the most pro gun state, Vermont has super low gun crime. And yes, we need guns. Shootings will continue to happen, but that's the price of freedom. "Why don't we ban Muslims? Until Muslims are completely eliminated, terrorism will still happen. America isn't the pro religious freedom country it was at the time of the constitution. You don't need religion". That's what you sound like to me. Ridiculous. I'd be happy to have a gun debate, but this is a mentally ill right to own a gun debate, which I strongly support. Oh, and by the way, America believes in something called freedom of speech. So you can't "ban the nra".
Posted by FanboyMctroll 2 years ago
Owlblocks your deflection of the guns being the main issue onto mental illness is just an excuse for owning a gun. Mental illness has nothing to do with it. Did the guy in Vegas have mental illness? No yet he now holds the record for most killed by a spree shooter.

The main issue with your debate is GUNS not Mental Illness
Posted by FanboyMctroll 2 years ago
Hey Owlblocks what is your NRA membership number? Until guns are eliminated completely these killings will keep happening. A crazy guy or a sane guy with a knife might stab 2-3 people but then he will be taken down and beaten to a pulp, the same guy with a gun will just sit there with the trigger squeezed and mow down hundreds.

Ban all guns and the senseless killings will stop. Just look at Canada or England or any other European country, guns are illegal except for long barrel rifles and the senseless gun murders are just a fraction of what the US has.

Get rid of the 2'nd amendment, USA is not the wild west like when the constitution was written, nobody needs a gun, you don't need to hunt for food, we have grocery stores. Guns are only used for killing, they serve no other purpose.

Until America bans the NRA, and gets rid of the 2'nd amendment, these things will just keep happening, and only NRA members or guns store owners will advocate for guns not being the problem.
Posted by Owlblocks 2 years ago
Like I said here and in the debate, the focus is on depression, schizophrenia, and bipolar.
Posted by NCdavidB 2 years ago
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) is nearly 1000 pages. Perhaps limiting this topic to a few specific mental illnesses will yield a contender.
Posted by NCdavidB 2 years ago
The DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition) is nearly 1000 pages. Perhaps limiting this topic to a few specific mental illnesses will yield a contender.
Posted by Owlblocks 2 years ago
Like I said in the first part of the debate, I'm especially referring mentally ill as illnesses like bipolar, schizophrenia, and depression. More major ones. If you want to argue for banning guns for minor illnesses too, be my guest, but I don't expect you to defend that. As for the high power rifles (to the second comment) I should emphasize that rifles are a minority in gun crime by FAR, and that the cartridge is the main determiner of power... Not the gun itself. Heck, the Virginia Tech massacre was CHOSEN to be carried out by a handgun and 19 ten-round clips. I don't think rifles usually affect the killing potential, with Vegas being one of the few exceptions (it was pretty long range). But the highest power rifles would probably be bad for mass shootings... Bmg rifles have such massive kickback and are semi auto, but they're definitely high power.
Posted by Nd2400 2 years ago
Im not saying banning all guns. I would support a tougher laws on high power rifle guns. That's the main problem.
Posted by dtaylor971 2 years ago
Can you refine your definition of "mentally ill?" If so, I do have some interest in accepting this debate but not sure how much time I'll have to work on it over the next week.
Posted by Owlblocks 2 years ago
No... Homicides have steadily gone down over time. Mass shootings don't matter. They're horrible, but if homicides overall go down I don't see the problem with mass shootings going up (I mean, they're horrible, but the lesser of two evils. If we can prevent them while preserving rights I'm all for it). And gun laws don't prevent gun crime. Alcoholism also increases violence. Why don't we ban alcohol? We tried and failed.
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