The National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy grieves with the families of all who are affected by the tragedy in Tucson. It is natural to look for meaning in these events and to explain them in terms that will allow us to prevent them in the future. In the aftermath of events people could not control, there is a frantic search to regain control: gun control, increased control of people with psychiatric disabilities, anything to persuade us that these events will never happen again. Responses based on involuntary treatment of people with psychiatric disabilities are misguided and reflect wishful thinking; mental illness is not a predictor of violence. In addition, these types of responses engage in generalizations and stereotypes that may damage and destroy the lives of people whose conduct never has and never will bear any resemblance to that of Jared Loughner.
We join with those who place responsibility for the murders in Tucson squarely on the shooter himself. The “mental health system,” cannot be tasked with impossible predictions of future behavior and levels of social control that are neither possible nor desirable. Arizona has a legal standard for which commitment to a mental hospital has minimal criteria. However, in Arizona as in all states in this country, people who behave bizarrely cannot, without more, lose their liberty. This is not something to regret: it is the foundation of freedom and personal responsibility. At NARPA, we neither approve the use of mental illness as a reason to broadly restrain liberty, nor do we approve of the use of mental illness as an excuse for criminal conduct. The National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy stands for the principle of individual choice. People with disabilities should have individual choices; they should have those choices respected, and they should, as individuals, live with the consequences of their choices. Generalizations about “the mentally ill” are not helpful in the aftermath of the tragedy in Tucson.
National Association for Rights Protection and Advocacy (NARPA)
c/o Ann Marshall
19019 Greenleaf Dr. SE
Huntsville, AL 35803
256-564-9933 (phone & fax)