MADISON (WKOW) — The Dane County chapter of the National Association on Mental Illness says Gov. Evers’ proposed red flag law is a good first step toward solving both the gun violence and mental health crises.
“If someone is at risk of harming themselves or others using a firearm, they would want those to be removed,” said Anna Moffit, executive director of the organization, which provides education and support to people affected by mental illness and that nationally has supported red flag laws.
“For deaths by suicide, we know that a lot of folks utilize firearms, and they’re very lethal, so we always want to make sure families, loved ones, caregivers, they can make sure they loved ones are protected as well,” Moffit said.
While she says the proposed red flag law is opening up the conversation, she says it doesn’t outright solve the problem.
“I think the legislation that’s being proposed is a positive, but it’s only a first step,” Moffit said.
Moffit says the solution is both with limiting access to firearms and with providing access to mental health care.
“The fact that we live in a time where that’s not the case, where it’s more difficult to get mental health services than it is to secure and own a firearm, is a tragedy that needs to be addressed,” she said.
Moffit says if gun violence were to only be addressed as a mental health crisis, the problem could actually be made worse.
“Then what happens is it further stigmatizes people that are not committing these crimes,” she said. “Then it makes people even less likely to go out and seek treatment.”
Moffit said she hopes legislators will be careful to write a red flag bill in a way that doesn’t equate gun violence to mental illness, as she says data shows those with mental illnesses are far more likely to be victims of gun violence than to cause it.