In a news cycle saturated in outrageous and blatantly disgusting stories, it’s easy to get lost in the weeds. One way to combat this is by picking an issue or two near to your heart and keeping tabs on them, regardless of all of the crazy shit going on.

For me, one of those topics is gun control and regulation reform.

As I spoke about in our latest episode, I became pro-gun regulation (vs. anti-gun) after I met my husband, who is an accomplished marksman and collector of firearms. We do have the Second Amendment, and while I do not personally see a purpose for owning a gun, it is clearly a tenable right in our nation.

This said, the right to own a gun does not mean that that right is not without limitations.

Last week, Mr. Trump began the process to reverse a rule that made it difficult for those with a diagnosed mental illness to obtain a firearm. The Washington Post reports:

Gun-control advocates say the rule was meant to affect only those found to have a mental illness that makes them a danger to themselves or others, but was written too broadly. The rule didn’t make certain people ineligible to buy a firearm, but was designed to ensure the background check system was comprehensive, accurate and flagged those already deemed ineligible.

The rule described was enacted on the heels of the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting, in which the gunman was killed 20 young children, 6 faculty of the school, and his mother. It was later reported that he suffered from a few diagnosed mental illnesses, including obsessive compulsive disorder and Asperger’s Syndrome.

This Tweet in particular really hits home for me, especially as a mother:

As I also talked about in the episode, I suffer from Bipolar II Disorder and severe clinical depression. I do not know the combination to the gun safe we keep in our garage, nor do I want to know. While there is no data correlating mental illness and increased risk of violence [1], the idea behind the rule was to attempt to curtail the access of firearms to those who are in the middle of psychosis or other severe mental break. While limiting the rights of particular subgroups is, by and large, and dangerous and slippery slope, rolling back regulations is not going to help the situation. Regulations like these are inherently flawed, as described eloquently by Duke University’s Jeffrey Swanson:

The criteria we have are both over-inclusive and under-inclusive at the same time. They capture a lot of people who are not really at risk, at least not anymore. For instance, think about someone who had a suicidal mental health crisis 25 years ago, was involuntarily hospitalized, but now they’re recovered and fine, they haven’t had problems in years. They want to get a job as a security guard and they can’t because they can’t possess firearms.

Under-inclusive, because think about someone who’s in the middle of their first episode of psychosis, but hasn’t been treated. This might be a serious, dangerous mental health crisis―a person with paranoid delusions, believing that everyone else is out to get him, isolated, maybe drinking heavily―but he is not disqualified from going and purchasing any number of guns. [2]

There should be checks in place for both of those who fall into the over-inclusive and under-inclusive groups affected by this (and other such) regulatory rules. For example, a person who did have a mental health episode 25 years ago but would now like to have a job that requires them to carry a firearm should be able to obtain a special dispensation from a mental health professional that would allow them to do so. On the other hand, having a longer “cooling off” period and deeper checks into a person’s mental well-being would potentially catch individuals that fall into the “under-inclusive” groups.

Mass shootings, killing children, and domestic violence are side effects of gun ownership. Domestic violence, in particular, has a clear correlation between firearm ownership violence against women:

In controlled analyses, we found that, for each 10 percentage point increase in state-level firearm ownership in a state, the female firearm-related homicide rate increases by 10.2%, the female nonstranger homicide rate increases by 7.8%, and the overall female homicide rate increases by 7.3%. There is a specific risk of nonstranger, firearm-related femicide associated with the prevalence of firearm ownership in a state. [3]

The interplay between gender and gun ownership is complex and difficult to tease out. 60% (6 in 10) gun owners are white males, which would further suggest that the nonstranger homicide risk discussed in the above quote would point to women being killed by men that they know. That is not to say men shouldn’t be allowed to own guns, but it is important to understand who has guns and how they are being used.

It is important to note that the rules we have in place are not to prevent anyone from specifically purchasing a firearm. They are designed to create a more comprehensive background check system so that guns are not used to harm another person. Even the rule Mr. Trump is attempting to get rid of isn’t specifically denying anyone the right to bear arms, it is simply creating a layer of complexity to a system that should be complex. It shouldn’t be easy to get a gun.

Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD and Kenneth T. MacLeish, PhD
[2] What We Actually Know About the Connections Between Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and Gun Violence by Lois Beckett
[3] Siegel Michael B. and Rothman Emily F.. Violence and Gender. March 2016, 3(1): 20-26. doi:10.1089/vio.2015.0047