LePage urges Congress to focus gun debate on mental health

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage is urging Vice President Joe Biden and lawmakers in Washington to focus more on mental health issues and less on gun control as they wrestle with ways to reduce gun violence in the U.S.

AP Photo

In his radio address Saturday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage is expected to speak on the need to focus more on mental health issues and less on gun ownership in the national debate over gun violence.

LePage is expected to speak on the topic during his weekly statewide radio address to Maine residents Saturday morning. He released copies of letters Wednesday that he sent to Biden and Maine's congressional delegation on the matter.

The governor says the problem facing the nation has little to do with firearm ownership and "nearly everything to do with mental health issues."

"Maine has a long history of responsible gun ownership," LePage states in his letter to Biden. "Criminalizing these law-abiding citizens will only ensure that criminals are the ones with guns."

In a news statement on the letters, LePage noted recent mass shootings around the country.

“The tragedies experienced in Aurora, Sandy Hook and Virginia Tech are horrific and the loss of life unconscionable,” LePage said. “However, to prevent future tragedies, we must learn more about the real problem, which is mental health issues. We must be willing to focus on the accessibility and delivery of mental health care services.”

LePage's state budget proposal includes an additional $2 million to improve access to mental health services across the state.

“I am confident these initiatives will mean much more to the individuals receiving these services than simply passing unnecessary gun laws,” LePage wrote.

In his message Saturday, the governor is expected to say Maine is one of the highest-ranked states in the nation for the delivery of mental health services but gets only a "B" ranking, with five other states, by the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The U.S. overall was given a "D"; no state got an "A."

LePage is expected to note his support for clubhouse programs in Lewiston, Waterville and Augusta. 

The clubhouse concept provides a "supportive space for those with mental illness where employment is used as the primary rehabilitation tool through which members become engaged and recover."

The Lewiston Clubhouse, which opened in January, already has 160 members with an average daily attendance of 30 people, according to the governor.

sthistle@sunjournal.com

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Comments

Robyn Belcher's picture

Mental health cuts

It's nice for the governor to talk about the importance of mental health services while proposing cuts in funding for mental health in his proposed budget.

Jennifer Chretien's picture

There is no one solution

There are many components to the issue of gun violence and it seems that many people want to make it a single issue problem. Yes, in many of the recent mass shooting in out country mental illness has been a big part of the issue. However not all gun violence can be contributed to mental illness.
There is still a huge stigma around mental illness, some of it evidenced in some of the comments below. People shouldn't be afraid to ask for help. Some people with mental illness are afraid of not being supported by family and friends. They fear they might lose their jobs if it is discovered they take medications or have a diagnosis. Medication and therapy are important elements in treating mental illness but just as important is having strong support of family and friends. Being able to work and to contribute to your community is also important. Access to treatment is critical, insurance programs need to cover mental health as thoroughly as they do diabetes and heart disease. Mental illness is a medical condition that needs to be taken seriously.
I don't believe that more gun control is the be all end all of solving this problem either. As someone who does not own a gun I don't know all of the legal responsibilities of gun ownership. Though it seems to me that gun owners have a responsibility to secure their guns, legally and morally to prevent them from entering the wrong hands.
Simply adding more gun laws won't fix this. Improving the attitudes around mental health and improving access won't completely fix it either but personally I think if it can prevent one of these horrific events it will be worth the effort. It may also improve the quality of life for many, that seems like a good thing to me.
We as a country need to work together. It's becoming far to acceptable to dig our heels in and refuse to even see that there may be another point of view. This will get us absolutely nowhere.

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Laughing my head off

Where were all these mental health advocates when the state cut mental health care funding by $27 million . First of all most mentally ill people are just ill, as in not functioning well, but they are not dangerous. People who are under the influence are far more likely to be dangerous. Secondly, it is nearly impossible to predict when someone will become ill enough to become dangerous until the bodies have piled up. Thirdly, targeting mentally ill people only makes them less likely to seek treatment. The ones who are avoiding treatment are far more likely to be dangerous than the ones in treatment. Finally this is a straw man designed to draw attention away from the fact that gun lobbies have promoted and gotten legislation designed to make sure our gun laws cannot be enforced through secrecy, and defunding of the programs that would have enabled law enforcement officers to carry out their duties. The more people can be scared into buying guns the more money they make. So sure, let's make sure criminals have plenty of opportunities to get guns and let's blame something else. Funny

RONALD RIML's picture

Maine has one of the lowest violent crime rates of all 50.

Yet many of our residents our clamoring that they need to arm themselves - and 'carry concealed' to protect themselves in this most dangerous of environments.

For once the Guv pegged it correctly. It's a real 'Mental Health' problem. These Folks are freakin' loony!! Beat your Weapons into Plowshares and Follow the Furrow to your closest Mental Health Provider....

“To the man who is afraid everything rustles.”
? Sophocles

Noel Foss's picture

So it's "Freakin' Loony" to use some subtlety?

Wanting to exercise your 2nd Amendment rights with a little subtlety by tucking a gun into a pocket holster rather than strapping it onto your hip doesn't seem all that strange. Since Maine's a "Right to Carry" state these people could simply walk around with a shoulder holster all day. But since that often tends to alarm the anti's out there, there's the option of carrying concealed instead.
And since Maine's low crime rate and high gun ownership flies in the face of everything the Bidens, Bloombergs, and Emmanuels of the world would have you believe, who're the crazy ones? I mean, look at what a nice, safe, quiet town Chicago is.
"An armed society is a polite society."
--Robert Heinlein
Or, if you prefer,
"Not all things are to be discovered; many are better concealed."
--Sophocles

MARK GRAVE's picture

The same for goes for those

The same for goes for those who are afraid of the look of an assault-style weapon and want those instruments ban but say nothing about handguns, which account for nearly all annual gun deaths.

Fear makes for bad policy.

RONALD RIML's picture

Fear - Look how it worked for George W. Bush

And the 'Freedom-Fries' Crowd.......

MARK GRAVE's picture

Give some examples Ronald.

Give some examples Ronald.

RONALD RIML's picture

Fear of WMD's that never existed.

Touche', Fool.....

MARK GRAVE's picture

I dismissed Ronald’s comment

I dismissed Ronald’s comment for the simple fact that it is easy to criticize after the fact. Ronald presented noting to substantiate his assertion prior to the discovery of no WMD’s, but then that is what I’m accustom to from Ronald.

Noel Foss's picture

Asking someone to cite specifics doesn't make you a fool.

But being condescending and insulting DOES make you an opinionated jerk.
So, at the risk of stooping down a level;
Touche', jerk.

RONALD RIML's picture

You recognize that I have a 'Height' to condescend from

Merci'

Noel Foss's picture

Actually...

I'm afraid it's quite the opposite.
“A sneer is the weapon of the weak.”
--James Russell Lowell

RONALD RIML's picture

Says you!!!!

Noel Foss's picture

SNORT!

Coffee on my keyboard, awesome.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Well, I thought this would just be another NRA rant, but

our Governor always surprises."Criminalizing these law-abiding citizens will only ensure that criminals are the ones with guns."Governor, please explain what specific proposal of the administration would "criminalize law-abiding citizens". Even the AWB, as silly and useless as it is, does not criminalize anyone. Maine was one of those states that was not meeting its responsibility to inform the NCIS of people with mental illness problems. Reports are that Maine will correct this. I hope the administration does.
Few mass shooters are mentally ill but some are. We need a comphrensive attack on the issue. We need to identify people who are a threat to themselves and others. We need to prevent them from acquiring firearms and ammunition. We need to regulate dangerous and unusual firearms so that we know where they are and who possesses them. We need to make dangerous and unusual firearms less dangerous and unusual. We need to provide the police with even possible opportunity to meet and identify unqualified people who possess firearms. We need to treat illegal firearms possession as a very serious crime by itself. Pointing our finger at someone else and their problems is not a solution. We all need to take responsibility for this problem and gun-owners should lead in finding solutions.

Bob White's picture

How can you say that anybody

How can you say that anybody that commits a shooting outside of self defense isnt mentally ill. I know Im not going to shot anybody unless Im in danger. You may want to deny this all day but the only thing that banning guns will do will keep the honest people from having guns. Look at drugs alot of those are banned but guess what people still use them and we cant police it( at least not very well) So you can live in a make believe world if you want.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

I've never proposed or supported banning anything.

I oppose the AWB. Its silly and unworkable and even if it did it would not prevent a single shooting. I support regulation under the National Firearms Act of semi-automatic firearms which use detachable (and therefore any size) magazines. It has worked few people commit mass shootings with fully automatic firearms these days. Its constitutional the US Supreme Court has already so rules in the Miller case. And it fits very neatly into a universal backgroud check process.
I oppose the current drug laws for the same reason - hasn't worked, can't work, and is even less likely than banning guns to work (drugs are much more concealable).
Being angry, envious, seeking revenge, protecting ones territory or illegal business, jealousy, and greed are not mental illnesses but are the motivation behind most shootings. Honest law-abiding, sane citizens using guns do murder people and do commit suicide.

Noel Foss's picture

Speaking of silly and unworkable...

Regulating "semi-automatic firearms which use detachable (and therefore any size) magazines." is an absurdity in and of itself.
That'd effectively ban most handguns, as well as most modern hunting rifles, regardless of magazine capacity or caliber.
For example:
A Savage model 64 .22 caliber hunting rifle is semi-automatic and has a detachable magazine (10 rounds)
A Marlin model 60 .22 caliber hunting rifle is semi-automatic and has a fixed tubular magazine (15 rounds)

The Marlin and the Savage shoot an identical round, and have a semi-automatic action system that functions exactly the same, but the Marlin holds more rounds. But you'd ban the Savage simply because the magazine is detachable? I fail to see the logic there.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Regulating bans nothing

Machine guns are not banned in th US. Any one can own one. All you have to do is qualify under the NFA. I have a friend who has a full automatic AK-47 which he legally owns. Regulating bans nothing.
I'd regulate the Savage because you can put any size magazine into it reducing the number of times it must be reloaded and therefore reducing the opportunities for victims to escape making it a more dangerous firearm. And again I would not ban the SAVAGE. Any qualified citizen should be able to buy it (asssuming they have the money), possess it, use it, and sell it. But must meet the requirements of NFA to do so.
I oppose any firearm ban because it violates the 2nd, and maybe the 4th, and 5th Amendments to the Constitution depending on how its written.

Noel Foss's picture

Regulating can be a very effective ban.

For instance, the costs typically associated with licensing would be an effective ban on the Savage, since the difficulty and cost involved with getting it would outweigh the actual cost of the gun. That may be what you're going for, but to impose it on something as benign as a .22 plinker seems ludicrous, especially when you're not "regulating" a nearly identical gun with a larger capacity.
Regulating based on certain actions I can understand; fully automatic guns are excessive for most people.
But semi-automatics and detachable magazines are integral parts of modern firearms. For instance, if somebody comes in your window at 2am would you rather insert a magazine, or hand load a cylinder?

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Whole lot of assumptions here

I hve not written anything about te cost of licensing. Current costs are based on machine guns and are 80 years old. They were intended then to ban machine guns. Doesn't mean we need to use them today or that a single fee should be used. The licensing by th way is licensing the owner. Fits very nicely with the NRA pablum that guns don't kill people do. License the owner whether he owns one or a thousand guns with the fees somewhere close to the administrative cost to license.Each gun would be registered and again the fee should be close to th administative cost of registration.
A .22 plinker is not benign in a 30 x 30 classroom, movie theatre, or mall shop. The issue is what most people would use the firearm for. The issue is how dangerous (the Miller decision criteria) the firearm is if misused.
Sir, I've lived within a half block of a methadone clinic. I've opened my door to a 6 ft 6 inch gentlemen who after some pointless questions lifted a double barrelled shotgun he was hiding in his coat and pointed it directly at me. I'm still alive and he and his budies ran with no shots were fired. So I understand your question. And the answer is a semi-automatic with a 5 shot magazine properly registered to me, a legally licensed firearms owner whatever the cost.

Noel Foss's picture

Or; look at it from this perspective:

A quick google search reveals that most armed assailants fire fewer rounds than can be held in the cylinder of the average revolver. The people who fire the most rounds on average? Police officers. Who most likely wouldn't have to conform to the restrictions we're discussing, if New York is any example (the average citizen is limited to 7 rounds now; Officers still carry as many as they want).

So restricting or regulating guns based on removable magazines or semiautomatic action won't have much impact on the average criminal. The average hunter, or target shooter, on the other hand....

MARK GRAVE's picture

That said, assault weapons

That said, assault weapons are common and therefore are not unusual. In contrast, a bazooka would can be considered unusual.

You do know that assault weapons do not cause most of the annual gun deaths.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Assault rifles don't, but I haven't said anything about rifles

They are common but they are also dangerous. Scalia has pointed out that they are not protected by the 2nd Amendment.
Assault weapons do cause most gun deaths if you use a rational definition and don't respond to the silliness of the definition used by the AWB. Semi-automatic firearms (handguns, rfles, and shotguns) that use detachable magazines are used in most gun deaths. And that's all I've ever proposed. I never talk about assault weapons because as a class that only means weapons designed for the use of military assault troops and they are tightly regulated now by the NFA.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Sweet move crafting your own

Sweet move crafting your own definition to fit your argument. Be careful, you may be encroaching on US vs. Heller.

Moreover, your argument is predicated on handguns with detachable magazines outnumbering revolvers when it comes to tallying deaths. That statement I say you should backup with some data.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

I thought is was a good move since the definition

commonly used is so bad.
No my argument is not based of semi-autos handguns with detachable magazines out numbering revolvers. My understanding is tha half of all firearms in private hands are semi-autos with detachable magazines. Seen that in blog entries, articles, in Riflemen. But its someones estimate. I distinquish based on their functionality, not numbers.

MARK GRAVE's picture

"Assault weapons do cause

"Assault weapons do cause most gun deaths if you use a rational definition and don't respond to the silliness of the definition used by the AWB"

Numbers in fact do matter if you want to justify the above claim....

Bob Woodbury's picture

As usual, the governor is wrong.

The governor is trying to put the blame on defenseless people.

"Gun violence is a mental health issue only to a very small extent and to a much smaller extent than most people assume," said Paul Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and the director of the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons' Division of Law, Ethics and Psychiatry.
"Most gun violence is just not committed by people with mental illness," he said. “Were we somehow to stop violence by anyone with a mental illness -- as unlikely as that outcome might be -- we would be safer, but only a teeny bit safer. As much as these incidents attract everybody's attention and concern, they are a tiny fraction of the people who get killed in this country every year."

Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter in Newtown, Conn., had no known history of mental illness, despite unconfirmed reports that he was diagnosed with a form of autism. He used firearms legally purchased by his mother, herself one of his victims.
Nor does mental illness appear to explain other widely publicized mass murders, including the slaying of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last year, or the shooting rampage that took the lives of eight people in Manchester, Conn., in 2010.
Other mass murderers, including Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho and Long Island Rail Road killer Colin Ferguson, may have failed background checks had a federal database been more complete. James Holmes, who allegedly killed 12 people in Aurora, Colo., last year, had been treated for mental illness but didn't meet the legal standards that would have blocked him from buying guns.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Yet 56% of annual gun deaths

Yet 56% of annual gun deaths are suicides according to the CDC. You and Paul Appelbaum are cherry picking the statistics since violence needs a perpetrator and a victim. Suicide by gun is not included.

That said, your anti-gun agenda is clear to all readers. I will continue to shine the light on your distortions of the facts.

Bob Woodbury's picture

When it comes to distortions...

...you're the expert.

MARK GRAVE's picture

I presented to you both CDC

I presented to you both CDC and FBI data on gun statistics the counter your point of view on more than one occasion. Yet, you summarily dismiss it. That is okay, you do have the right to cling to your beliefs whether supported with data – or not in this case.

What else can I say? Good like in your other life choices, I wish you luck.

Carpe diem

Bob Woodbury's picture

You did neglect to say, however...

...how old that data was and what it left out. What was it - five, six years old? Got anything relevant?

MARK GRAVE's picture

Of course, your ignorance

Of course, your ignorance proves you did not look at all of the data. The FBI data I presented included 2011 data. Since 2012 just ended, it is ostensible that it will take time for the FBI to compile and report 2012 data. Moreover, slightly dated data is better than no data at all. Moreover, I showed you that violence is on the decline, so newer data will even better support may argument.

All that said, I expect nothing other from you. This behavior is not uncommon, especially when data does not support your emotional based claims.

Anyway, bad decision in the name of “for the kid” makes sense – right? As I said, I wish you luck.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Speaking of ignorance...

...I never knew anyone as paranoid as you. What is it you're so deathly afraid of?

MARK GRAVE's picture

Okay Bob, perhaps you should

Okay Bob, perhaps you should elaborate on your claim a bit more to make it not sound like a school boy argument.

Bob Woodbury's picture

Answering a question...

...with a question? No answer?

Noel Foss's picture

Best of luck, gov.

But given our VP's long and "illustrious" career of anti-gun rhetoric and legislation, I'm doubtful he'll start listening to reasonable discourse on it now. And he's even less likely to change his mind.

RAYMOND FRECHETTE's picture

Again Governor Lepage has hit

Again Governor Lepage has hit the proverbial nail on the head. All this "feel-good" talk on gun control will do nothing to protect us. These guns will still be around and only criminals will have them. Mental health is a serious problem in all of the recent horrible situations and also throughout this country and it is time our politicians open their eyes to this and stop kicking the can down the road. I would much prefer seeing my tax dollars go to help those with mental and other illnesses than funding pet political programs and favored political friends like the Solyndra affair.

Steve  Dosh's picture

LePage urges Congress to focus on mental health, not gun owners

. . Mainers 13.02.21 09:30 hst ?
Wer didn't \/ote for the dolt •  What's he on ? ¿ The Dr. Dolittle G O Party of know no ? That's a bit like the kettle calling the pot black, now isn't it . He has health care already . You are paying for it . Daily They made this mess we're and now they do not want to ƒix it •  Ya'll r e a l i z e that the G O P came out of the natavist and racist parties of 1 8 5 3 , correct ? It did . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing
Obamacare ® comes on line this October ª
:D Aloha from Pahoa H 96778 u s a /s , Dr. Dosh and ohana

Noel Foss's picture

Fascinating

And Democrats are who was behind the secession of the south because they wanted to keep their slaves. What political party did what 150 years ago suddenly seems less relevant to you, doesn't it?
And I dearly hope you're writing your entry on a cell phone or something, because your posts are nearly impossible to read.

RONALD RIML's picture

Noel, Noel....

Small Problem - Democrats of Days Long Gone are Republicans of the Present.

Noel Foss's picture

Modern Republicans want to secede from the Union?

News to me. Now, maybe the Tea Party, an attempt by them I can definitely see.
Unfortunately, Ronald, both political parties are equally polarized and ridiculous in their stances. The Democrats of today are just as responsible for the current political gridlock as the Republicans. Both parties are failing to do their jobs and are spending too much time bickering back and forth and pointing fingers at each other to the media to get anything done. Anybody who supports everything their party thinks, says, should do some serious reevaluation.
Ed Koch said it best:
"If you agree with me on nine out of 12 issues, vote for me. If you agree with me on 12 out of 12 issues, see a psychiatrist."

Noel Foss's picture

Bah.

"Thinks, says, or does should do some serious reevaluation"
That's what I get for not proofreading.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Where is your source Ronald,

Where is your source Ronald, besides your imagination.

RONALD RIML's picture

My source is 'History'

Not my Problem 'Dixiecrat' transition doesn't come to your mind.

MARK GRAVE's picture

Keep dreaming.

Keep dreaming.

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