Archive for Gabby Giffords

"I was a person": Time to reform our broken mental health system.


Flan post I was a person mental health post

Please take a minute to read this very heartfelt, very important post written by one of our longtime readers. Our mental health system is indeed broken. Ilene is doing everything she can to help rectify that:

Bipartisan Support is Needed to Pass Important Reforms to our Broken Mental Health System

Many people are crying out for stronger gun laws to address the increasing gun violence. The shooting of former U.S. Representative Gabby Giffords, by a man in a state of psychosis, is often mentioned as a reason for these reforms. I urge those who support stronger gun laws to also support important reforms to our extremely dysfunctional mental healthcare system.

This is not an either/or situation. We need stronger gun control laws and a complete overhaul of our broken mental healthcare system, but I fear this is becoming a partisan issue. I am a flaming liberal, and I support the Helping Families in Mental Health Crisis Act (HR3717) which is sponsored by – gasp – a Republican.

HR3717, sponsored by Rep. Tim Murphy, contains a very comprehensive set of long needed reforms. The competing bill, the Strengthening Mental Health in our Communities Act (HR 4574), is sponsored by Democratic Rep. Ron Barber, who was shot alongside of Giffords. There are some overlaps, but HR4574 lacks several essential reforms contained in HR3717.

The Barber bill doesn’t reform the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which thwarts the efforts of family members to help their loved ones with serious mental illness and who lack insight (Anosognosia). It also doesn’t include the need for a nationwide set of Assisted Outpatient Treatment laws, which would help people with serious mental illness, who have cycled in and out of the ER and jails, get into much needed, sustained, outpatient treatment.

Finally, it fails to address the Medicaid Institutes for Mental Diseases (IMD) Exclusion, a discriminatory law which bans federal funds to IMDs, which provide the majority of services to people with a mental illness or drug addiction. This includes hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, and group housing that provide on-site services and supervision. The Murphy bill includes these needed reforms.

Many people share the misconception that everyone can seek help on their own, manage their own treatment, and live on their own with occasional support. This is unfortunately not possible for a minority (about 25%) of people with serious mental illness. My twin brother Paul had schizophrenia, was treatment resistant, had significant cognitive impairments, and was in that minority.

Paul was treated like a fully functioning adult when released from the state hospital, which led to a roller coaster ride to hell and back and his early death. The “Pauls of today” will continue to become incarcerated, homeless, and die young, and their families will continue to suffer, without the essential reforms in Rep. Murphy’s bill.

Mental Health advocacy groups are calling for efforts to resolve the differences between the two bills, and to create a version which can pass the U.S. House of Representatives. Without true bipartisan support, we could lose those essential reforms contained in the Murphy bill. Please do not let that happen.

Ilene Flannery Wells

Paul's Legacy Project

To learn more about Paul, please read the book about his life; Shot In The Head, a sister’s memoir, a brother’s struggle, by our sister Katherine Flannery Dering.


VIDEO: Gabby Giffords shoots gun during tour to promote background checks


gabby giffords shooting range with mark kelly

See, gun zealots? As Gabby Giffords and Mark Kelly demonstrate, you can own a gun, you can shoot a gun, and you can even revere guns, all while supporting gun safety. Imagine:

Washington (CNN) – Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly, are in Alaska Tuesday on the second stop of a week-long, seven state tour across the nation trying to build public support for enhanced background checks for gun purchases.

The stops are specifically aimed at states where Senators voted no in April, such as Sen. Joe Heck (R-Nevada) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), or those who voted yes, including Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), for the Manchin-Toomey background check provision that would have brought enhanced background checks to guns bought at shows or over the internet.

Welcome to the "Rights and Responsibilities" tour, Gabby and Mark's way of trying their best to reduce gun violence after the tragic Newtown, Connecticut elementary school massacre.

This event was the first time Giffords had gone to a shooting range since she was nearly killed in 2011.

Gabby also wrote an op-ed for USA Today. Here are the excerpts provided by CNN:

Days before we celebrate our Declaration of Independence and the values that make our nation great, I am taking this week to pay tribute to the Second Amendment – both the rights it bestows and the responsibilities it requires. Some might consider me an unlikely advocate for gun rights because I sustained terrible injuries in a violent shooting. But I'm a patriot, and I believe the right to bear arms is a definitive part of our American heritage ...

We can't stop every person who is determined to do harm, but common-sense measures can prevent tragedies. Expanding background checks will help create a uniform standard for all gun purchases and prevent criminals and the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining powerful weapons...

I know there will always be some in Congress who remain in the grip of special interests... [W]e'll celebrate those who vote yes, and we'll notice those who ignored their constituents.

And hopefully, the rest of us will vote out those who clearly prefer those special interests to their constituents.


Democrats: Gun background check bill will be back for a vote


gabby giffords mark kelly background checks guns

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid:

"Joe Manchin called me yesterday. He thinks he has a couple more votes... . I may be able to get another Democrat or two. That would get us up to 57. We may only need three additional Republicans. So we'll see.""


Huffington Post:

Senate Democrats believe that they have several new votes in favor of a bill that would expand background checks for gun buyers, after weeks in which those who opposed the legislation faced strong political backlash at home.

The additional votes would still put the bill, a bipartisan compromise sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), shy of the 60 necessary for passage. And tellingly, no one boasting of growing support would reveal the names of those lawmakers ready to flip.


Greg Sargent thinks one of these votes could come from Senator Johnny Isakson.

After seeing this Profile in Courage, how could any Congress member vote against common sense safety measures?


Video- 2013 Profile in Courage Award Ceremony - Presented To Gabby Giffords