The conversation surrounding firearms and mental health usually focuses on keeping firearms “out of the hands” of mentally ill individuals. After every mass murder involving a gun, pundits from both sides of the political aisle wax eloquent about the need for mental health resources, early warning systems, and “red flag” legislation.
But there’s another side to that conversation, one that receives far less media attention.
As part of their American Gun video series, SilencerCo just released a mini-documentary highlighting a woman who uses firearms and firearm training to deal with her mental health struggles.
“I’ve had OCD, and it has really dramatically affected my life, and shooting actually is something that really helps me,” Genevieve Jones says in the video. “It just quiets everything that’s going on in my mind.”
She describes her experience dealing with a panic disorder that landed her in a behavioral health center, and she credits her participation in firearm competitions as one of the things that pulled her out of what she describes as a “really dark place.”
“As soon as I started shooting again, it quieted my mind,” she says.
Jones also discusses a worry, shared by many in the pro-gun community, about the connection between gun confiscation and mental health reporting. This worry is especially prevalent among veterans who fear that a PTSD diagnosis will leave them ineligible to own firearms.
“It took me literally years to open up about my struggles with mental illness,” Jones says. “I was expecting everybody to say that my guns should be taken away and I should be afraid for talking about it.”
To help address this concern, Jones helped found Hold My Guns, a nonprofit that connects people who need their guns out of the house with voluntary, private off-site storage options.
“If they are either going through a hard time or if they’re deploying or if you know grandkids are coming over to the house—it could be any scenario, but we are aimed at suicide prevention, and we want to raise awareness about mental health in the gun industry,” Jones explains.
She isn’t alone. Walk the Talk America, another pro-gun mental health nonprofit, seeks to connect suffering individuals with accurate, state-specific information about mental health and gun confiscation. In most states, people can seek help without consequences, and Walk the Talk America aims to raise awareness about that fact.
As Jones explains, most people with mental health problems aren’t dangerous, and they deserve to have their constitutional rights respected as well as access to every potential therapy.
“I’m not a danger to people, and I don’t think that many mentally ill people are a danger to people, and it would be really sad for them to miss out on something that could potentially help them as much as it helped me,” she says.