I have a confession. I’m going to tell you something I haven’t told my family.
In 1995, after a miscarriage, I searched for my birth mother. I found out she had passed away from cancer. I did additional research, requesting medical records. She had breast cancer, and died from complications from pneumonia. If she’d gone in earlier for treatment, she may have been alive for me to find her. She was living in the Tenderloin, on SDI, and had a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia and mental illness. She thought there were voices in her wall and her brother was a serial killer. And I was 26, pregnant, married, and about to give birth. I was terrified.
Would I get schizophrenia? Would my child? Would one of us go crazy? Every possible worry and thought ran through my mind.
My husband safely and discretely hid his hunting rifle. I haven’t seen it since. We waited six years before having another child. So far, neither of them or I have shown any signs of schizophrenia. Mental illness? Well, I have been depressed on and off since college, and tried various antidepressants. Should I have access to a gun?
I still keep my hunting license from 1990/1991 in a box. I’ve restricted my own access, just in case. I do have a temper. Am I in a mentally ill database? Can I pass a background check? I’ve been FBI fingerprinted at Charles Schwab in 1999 to work on their help desk, fixing computer problems for stockbrokers. I also worked for the City of Napa, in IT, fixing computers for police and firefighters and office workers, and my background passed.
I don’t recommend a database for mental illness. It won’t work. There’s too many possible holes. Who’s in? Who’s out? What about HIPPA laws? If a depressed Mom comes in, feeling blue, is she on the list if her doctor prescribes an anti-depressant? If it doesn’t work, as they sometimes do, and the Mom just gives up and stops the medicine, who is there to modify the database? What if her son or daughter is autistic or has Asperger’s? Are they on the list?
Does this remind you of 1930’s Germany, with Nazis asking for papers?
As a Mom, an American, a Republican, I’d rather have tighter gun laws. It’s going to be a long, tough battle, as red and blue states are polarized opposites. But if I can avoid another Sandy Hook, in my town of Napa, I’m ready to negotiate. What are you willing to do? Please, step up. It’s for the kids.
Cathy Gumina Odom