The depressed have a right to defend themselves

The small red pool on the bathroom floor grew as the gash on my leg continued to bleed. My mother knocked on the door, and I didn’t respond. She immediately panicked and called my father, who forced the door. Though I’d been self-harming for months, I’d never gone this far before.
Soon after getting some staples in my leg at the ER, I was released — but not back to my home. I went to a psychiatric institution. With my father alongside me, they evaluated my mental health and determined if I was a suicide risk. I wasn’t, and they released me after only a few hours.
According to some, people who have stories like mine shouldn’t be able to own guns. There haven’t been many areas of agreement so far in the current gun control debate, but there is consensus developing on one issue: We should work harder to make sure the “mentally ill” don’t get firearms.

Consider a Jan. 18 op-ed in the New York Times written by Wendy Button, who asks for readers to “Please Take Away My Right to a Gun.” Her argument is simple: When gripped by the despair so familiar to those with depression, she doesn’t trust herself with a gun, and so she asks our political leaders to “take away my Second Amendment right.”

Ms. Button can’t speak for those with depression any more than I can, but let me share my concern with her line of thinking, and with the emerging consensus about restricting the rights of the depressed.

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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