Upstate mental illness advocate weighs in on gun regulation repeal

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GREENVILLE, S.C. (WSPA) – A simple majority vote is all it took for the Republican-led House to roll back a law restricting gun sales to the severely mentally ill. This is a repeal of an Obama-era administration regulation.

For Paton Blough, mental illness is a difficult subject having experienced bipolar disorder himself.

“In my psychosis I was so delusional; I thought good people were bad people,” said Blough. The “Rehinge” founder now advocates for the mentally ill and says it makes sense to address how potential violence comes into play. “We don’t want somebody in a delusional state of mind with a gun,” he said.

The rule house republicans voted to repeal Thursday would require the social security administration to send information about mentally ill people to the national instant criminal background check system. It would affect recipients with a mental disorder so severe they cannot work or handle their own benefit checks.

“Glad it looks like somebody’s got some common sense to start doing the right thing,” said SharpShooters General Manager Jim Braziel. “”My problem with that was.. Who can adequately determine the mental disabilty and what degree what point they can’t own a gun. Well if they can’t own a gun should they be driving a car because one can be as dangerous?”

The Associated Press says the rule affects an estimated 75,000 people.

“The intent is good to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill but the process of just allowing the social security to sorta willy nilly decide who that is.. Is probably not the best way to handle that,” said Blough.

Blough also sits on the state board for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. In a letter to house leaders NAMI CEO said,  “We are gravely concerned that the rule, as adopted, perpetuates unfounded stereotypes about people with mental illness and other mental disabilities that have no basis in fact.”

“Whenever you threaten to take away civil rights from somebody because they’re mentally ill, one of the things that concern me is that people are going to fear getting the help they need,” said Blough.

Republicans are using the congressional review act to roll back all manner of regulations put in place in the last months before president Obama left office. The senate is expected to pass the national rifle association-backed measure soon — and president Donald Trump is expected to sign it.

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