“Mental Health Evaluations” and Gun Control… I like the “drivers license” test!

by | Dec 19, 2012

Sandy Hook Elementary Memorial

Quote from this website and article…

Look at it this way: I have a class C driver’s license with no restrictions. I don’t have any impairments (physical or mental) that would diminish my capability to operate a motor vehicle. However, if I wanted to drive a motorcycle, I would still have to apply for a class M1 or class M2 license to operate a motorized bike. If I wanted to be able to drive a commercial vehicle, I would have to apply yet again for a commercial drivers license (CDL). These regulations are not meant to impede or impair my right to drive, but to ensure my safety and the safety of others by making sure I have the mental and physical capacity to operate these varying types of vehicles for their intended use. Likewise, proposing stricter gun control laws are not intended to nullify the second amendment, but to make sure lethal weapons are placed in responsible hands, whether that means longer waiting periods, more in-depth criminal background checks, mandatory routine psychological evaluations or all of the above. 


“My brother and I could have been shot close to 50 years ago when Dad, who carried a gun as a 1st responder, came into our bedroom shaking a gun at us in a most threatening way.”

I wrote about this subject the other day, which included the above quote…  This was a terrifying experience, and not the only scary incident in our life in a toxic home culture.  My father served America with pride and honor during WWII and in the Korean War.  He was also considered a top professional as a 1st responder in the Federal Correctional Institution before he finally retired after 40 years total military and federal government service.  My father, like countless other Americans during his time, served his country with passion and dedication.  But so many of our heroes of his time suffered terribly with the symptoms of PTSD without effective diagnosis and treatment during long careers.  Most did not commit a crime, but probably should not have carried a gun due to apparent mental health challenges and substance abuse.  The risk was not mitigated and we will never know how many incidents of violence can be attributed to military and security professionals who lived and coped with the pain of moral injury.

As a family we are grateful that Dad was able to complete his career without a tragic event and receive mental health treatment later in life.  Making this circumstance even more troublesome was that Dad was the sole “bread winner” in our family until we were old enough to work and go to school at the same time.  If there had been effective mental health evaluations during Dad’s time, his career may have ended unless treatment was available or an unarmed position offered. 

There is no good answer but there are lessons learned from our past.  We can do better, much better.  I am hopeful at the moment that there is the right sense of urgency in America to take action and mitigate the risk of future tragic events by instituting appropriate and effective mental health evaluations for all citizens, including security professionals and 1st responders, who intend to carry or own a gun for any reason.

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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