opinion | Republicans blame mental health issues for gun violence. So where is the money for sponsorship?

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Exceptional American gun culture is not our source Extraordinary levels From gun violence And the mass shootingRepublican politicians say. Something else must be blamed.

More recently, the most politically favorable explanation has been mental illness.

“As a state, we as a society need to do a better job with mental health,” Texas Governor Greg Abbott (right) He said After the shooting of an 18-year-old man 19 children and two teachers In Ovaldi using military weapons obtained legally. “Anyone who shoots someone else is facing a mental health challenge. Period. We as a government need to find a way to target this mental health challenge and do something about it.”

This argument has been echoed by other Republicans, including Representative Tony Gonzalez (Texas)And the Governor Asa Hutchinson (ship) In a speech at the National Congress of the Venice Society, former President Donald Trump.

Never mind, it seems, that mental health advocates have suggested that this is Scapegoat. Many people struggle with mental health challenges, in the United States and elsewhere; Most of them do not resort to violence, let alone the slaughter of fourth-graders. Easy access to firearms in this country allows a mass shooter to carry out his violent ambitions, whether or not that person has been diagnosed with a mental health problem.

But suppose these politicians truly believe that identifying and addressing mental health challenges – rather than, say, restricting access to effective killing machines – is the key to reducing mass shootings. If so, why didn’t they put their money where their mouths are?

Texas, for example, is ranked the last among all 50 states in universal access to mental health care, according to the nonprofit American Mental Health Organization. The ranking is based on available data on metrics such as the shares of adults and children with mental health problems who could not receive treatment.

Among the reasons why: Texas is one of the a Dozens of countries that has not yet expanded Medicaid, the public health insurance program that covers poor and low-income Americans, the country single biggest motivation For mental health services.

Texas officials to reject To expand Medicaid does not appear to be rooted in general welfare nor financial responsibility concerns. The federal government offered the states out billions of dollars In incentives to expand Medicaid, most recently through last year’s US bailout. These incentives, on the network, Cause state revenue to go out Before, even after accounting for Texas’ new spending commitments if they would make more residents eligible for public insurance. Expanding Medicaid will also reduce costs for hospitals that currently provide much of the unpaid care to uninsured patients.

Instead, Texas chose to be the state with the largest population Uninsured.

It gets worse. In April, Abbott transferred $211 million from the state Commission on Health and Human Services, which oversees mental health programs, as did NBC News. pointed. Funds have been transferred to support Lone Star processthe controversial governor deployed the National Guard and law enforcement resources to the border.

Texans have heard before about Abbott’s alleged deep concern for the mental health services, at least in the wake of the gun massacres.

After a previous mass shooting – including a shooting in A Houston area high school in 2018 And one targeting Hispanics at El Paso Walmart in 2019 Abbott blamed “mental health” as the main reason. To his credit, after the high school shooting, he signed at least a series of bills intended (modestly) to improve government mental health initiatives, such as providing more mental health training for teachers.

But such measures have not been enough to improve the state’s appalling record on mental health services, as it has recently Houston Chronicle investigation series Documented.

It is clear that these measures did not stop the mass shooting. Nor Many more bills Abbott has Occurred In recent years, gun restrictions have been relaxed, such as the a 2019 . measurement Give more teachers access to guns in the classroom.

Texas political leaders are hardly alone in their frivolous concern with mental health issues, except when it pays to steer clear of other political weaknesses.

The overall ranking of the United States worst compared to most other wealthy countries on a range of measures related to mental health, including suicide rates and the ability of individuals to obtain or afford professional help when experiencing emotional distress. Meanwhile, Republicans, including Trump, have a job to me roll back Public health programs and subsidies that provide little access to the care enjoyed by low- and middle-income Americans.

For many years, GOP politicians switched between saying they would prevent gun violence by investing in health care (instead of gun restrictions) and subsequently working to cut off access to care. Voters rarely record the disconnect. But the more massacres there are, and the more they are repeated, the more difficult it becomes to maintain these charades.