The Free Press, Mankato, MN

May 4, 2013

Your View: The mentally ill are rarely criminals

Diane Gerlach, Mankato NAMI board member, St. Peter

— I am writing in response to the letter, “Keep weapons from the mentally ill” by Gary Lindsay published April 20. I understand by the letter that the belief is that we need to keep weapons out of the hands of the mentally ill, but then he compares that to mass and serial killers.

Mass and serial killers definitely have some sort of miswiring in the brain, but they do not have treatable mental illnesses.

Many mental illnesses are very treatable which allows many to lead normal lives that include jobs. Many enjoy hunting.

Statistics show only 1-3 percent of people with treatable mental illness are dangerous. Most would hurt themselves before hurting others.

If we decide to limit who has the right to carry a gun, then we need to stop people when enter a bar and are drinking, and take away their car keys — driving a car when under the influence is also a lethal weapon.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness has great information on mental illness. Many famous people have come forward and shared with the world the trials they have had with mental illness.

All people with mental illness are not criminals — 98 percent of people with mental illness end up victims of crimes rather than perpetrators.

I have met many wonderful people through NAMI who manage their mental illness.

Information about mental illness can be found at: www.NAMIhelps.org.