There is a terrific story in The Hill this morning: “GOP Newtown bill hits impasse” by Elise Viebeck that describes the current state of Newtown legislation. The purpose is to address the situation in which mentally ill persons can obtain guns and kill people (like school children) as did a teen at Newtown. If you recall, the teen was under psychiatric treatment for a period of time. His mother had guns in the home and took the boy to a range to teach him how to use them. There is much culpability in this story aside from the issue of access to guns by persons with mental problems. The legislation is by Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) who is a psychologist. Opposition to his approach is in details about how comprehensive the new law should be and about funding treatment alternatives. There are huge flaws in the current laws and Democrats want a more complete solution, not just a quick patch.
“The question is: How do you create a system that respects family involvement, patient rights and includes a continuum of care that can help the mentally ill at every stage?” one lobbyist said. “We want to strike that balance.”
Several groups are divided over the bill’s commitment to easing standards surrounding involuntary treatment, a policy known as “assisted outpatient treatment,” or AOT.
Some argued the laws are inherently coercive, drive patients away from care and fail to produce better outcomes when compared with well-funded voluntary programs.