In the wake of last weekend’s tragic shootings, President Trump did what he does best: stoked fear and cast blame. He proclaimed that “we must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people, not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement.”
There are two things wrong with the idea of involuntary commitment as a solution to gun violence. First, focusing on people with identifiable mental disabilities won’t help. The data is clear: mental disability is not the primary cause of gun violence. Second, making it easier to commit people against their will would repeat one of the great wrongs of the last 150 years. It will rob innocent people of their most basic civil liberty: the day-to-day freedom to live on your own and make your own decisions about whether and what kind of medical treatment to receive.