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Gun Debate Precarious for Recovered Addicts

Lighthouse Network Urges Common-Sense Regulation Regarding Rights of Recovered Addicts

Key Facts:

  • The nation’s current gun debate in the wake of frequent mass shootings like Sandy Hook and San Bernardino leaves those recovering from addiction or other mental health struggles at risk of being unable to enjoy second amendment rights based on past mistakes.
  • Presently, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) has criteria for reinstating lost gun privileges for those that have had them revoked, but since 1992, the bureau has had no budget to review or process applications to have those rights reinstated.
  • Lighthouse Network urges common-sense regulations and accessible means for those who are in recovery to have their rights restored when appropriate.

In the wake of regular tragedies at Sandy Hook, San Bernardino, and various colleges and schools, the nation’s gun control debate, as well as discussions over mental health, have been intense. Many have advanced the need for stricter gun control in the United States, but their cries are met with caution, especially from the mental health community. There is significant concern that further limiting access to guns for those with mental health challenges may prevent those who need help the most from seeking it for rear of losing various privileges.

I urge common sense when considering or implementing gun control regulations for those with mental health issues, and demands that the ATF provide access to reinstatement of gun privileges for those who have shown successful recovery, especially from addiction.

For the past 20 years, recovered addicts have had no way to have gun rights reinstated based on a budget issue: the ATF has no budget for staff to review and process reinstatement applications.

It seems unreasonable and unfair that someone who was addicted to alcohol in college and is now 15 or 20 years sober while showing a responsible track record of healthy living can’t apply for and have reinstated gun rights in order to be able to hunt with family or friends or protect his home and family from intruders. It is true that the consequences of our actions follow us for years and that is one risk of poor behavior.  However, once dues are paid and an addict has sought help and shown proof of a responsible and safe decision-making track record, an individual should be able to move forward, carry on a normal life, and have privileges restored.

When privileges are not restored, it is just this sort of isolation and singling out that makes life more difficult and painful for the addict, and could in fact drive him to turn his back on sobriety. For others, it may be just the excuse they need to say ‘I’m not going to get help in the first place.’ A common-sense balance between consequences for negative behaviors and rewards for positive behaviors when it comes to gun regulations for addicts or mental health patients is needed in order to prevent further damage to their already battered psyche.

karl-benzio-1Dr. Karl Benzio MD, Christian Psychiatrist, writer, speaker, media guest expert, social issue activist, and the founder and clinical director of Lighthouse Network. Benzio brings scientific expertise and biblical principles together to examine common daily struggles and help people successfully navigate life’s storms. His experiences include teaching pastors, ministry leaders and students about counseling, leadership, parenting, marriage, and conflict resolution skills in traumatized areas like Uganda, Kenya and post-Hussein Iraq. He is currently a member of Focus on the Family’s Physicians Resource Council, the Pennsylvania Director of the American Academy of Medical Ethics, and serves on many other social policy task forces. His specialties include adolescents, addictions, decision-making and infusing spirituality into treatment. Benzio shares psycho-spiritual insights via his Stepping Stones daily devotional, on his one-minute daily radio feature “Life Change with Dr. Karl,” on 425 Christian radio stations and on iDisciple.org.

Email: KBenzio@LighthouseNetwork.org

Twitter: @drkarlb