Advocacy E-News September 20, 2013
September 20, 2013
MENTAL HEALTH AGAIN AN ISSUE IN GUN DEBATE
Despite deep divisions that have kept Congress from passing new gun safety laws for almost two decades, there is one aspect of gun control on which many Democrats, Republicans and even the National Rifle Association agree: the need to give mental health providers better resources to treat dangerous people and prevent them from buying weapons. Yet efforts to improve the country’s fraying mental health system to help prevent mass shootings have stalled on Capitol Hill, tied up in the broader fight over expanded background checks and limits on weapons sales.
SIGNS MAY BE EVIDENT IN HINDSIGHT, BUT PREDICTING VIOLENT BEHAVIOR IS TOUGH
In hindsight, it may seem clear that Aaron Alexis, who went on a shooting rampage at the Washington Navy Yard on Monday, posed a threat long before the attack, but most mental health experts say that barring the rare few who declare their intentions, it can be extremely difficult to pick out people who are likely to commit murder.
UP-TO-DATE GUN BILL SCORECARD: TRACK NEW JERSEY’S GUN LEGISLATION
Senate President Stephen Sweeney said Wednesday that his “centerpiece bill” to overhaul the way the state issues firearms ID cards is effectively dead after Gov. Chris Christie stripped out its main sections in a conditional veto. Here’s where every gun-related bill stands that has passed at least one house of the Legislature.
EXPANDED MEDICAID WILL COVER MENTAL HEALTH, SUBSTANCE-ABUSE TREATMENT
Gov. Chris Christie opted to expand Medicaid eligibility to include residents with incomes up to $15,415 for a single person. Some low-income New Jersey residents will be eligible for treatment for drug and alcohol addictions, as well as some mental health services, under the upcoming Medicaid expansion. But most Medicaid recipients won’t be eligible for the new benefits. Under the 2010 Affordable Care Act, states that choose to expand Medicaid – known as New Jersey FamilyCare in the state — must cover these treatments for people who are newly eligible for the program. However, that provision doesn’t apply to those who are already eligible for the program.
STUN-GUNS: STRICT N.J. POLICY AIMS TO CURB UNNECESSARY USE
After years of hesitation, Tasers are being added to the arsenals of many North Jersey police departments. Officers throughout New Jersey must abide by the state’s stun-gun policy — considered among the strictest in the United States — which seems to have been designed to prevent the types of misuse that have provoked outrage in other states. The push for stun guns in North Jersey grew after a series of deadly confrontations in which police officers fatally shot suspects armed with tools or knives. According to relatives, these suspects were mentally ill or emotionally disturbed, and they and activists questioned why police didn’t have Tasers.