Raising My Hand

On the NRA and bipolar disorder

I have not come out and directly expressed this previously, but now it is required of me as a patriot, an advocate for a vulnerable subclass of Americans and a fighter for justice.

I have bipolar disorder. I have had it since I was 19, and was diagnosed when I moved to California early this decade. I have had my struggles, but I am a productive member of society. My profile is right there on LinkedIn or Google if you want evidence.

So now we are engaging in a national dialogue about guns and mental illness. And it’s gotten ugly.

When there’s a mass shooting, inevitably the NRA calls for people to carry more guns, paradoxically. In Newtown, as we all know, a disturbed 20-year-old annihilated almost 30 people, most of them children. The NRA was silent, except to say that they would be making a statement later. Well, the NRA made their statement, and missed a chance for constructive dialogue. “Scapegoating” is the word for what they are doing.

In a change in tactic, the NRA is calling for a national database of the mentally ill—me and others like me being rounded up and fingerprinted and our movements tracked. Even The Atlantic‘s staff writer Jeffrey Goldberg is nonchalantly considering taking away the Second Amendment rights of the mentally ill who haven’t been charged with a crime or judged mentally ill by the courts.

The mentally ill are not sex offenders or parolees. We’re human beings who are doing our best to plod along and maintain relationships and work and live and take care of our families and build careers and get educated just like everyone else in the country.

We will not be scapegoated. We will not be tracked and monitored like pedophiles on parole wearing ankle bracelets. Count on us to fight for our rights—we are Americans, only with different brain chemistry than most. That makes us assets, not liabilities.

The answer to psychopathic shooters is absolutely not to infringe on the Constitutional rights and privileges of the 1 percent of the population of the United States who take Prozac or Seroquel or go to therapy. That much we will make known—and are making known.

Kris Magnusson is a professional writer for a large software company and is the coauthor of ‘Java Enterprise In a Nutshell.’ He lives in Sonoma.

Open Mic is a weekly op/ed feature in the Bohemian. To have your topical essay of 350 words considered for publication, write [email protected].

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