Mentally ill woman: gun background checks need to be stronger

A woman who identifies as a mental health patient says she has no problem legally obtaining a weapon.

- At Action Impact Firearms and Training Center in Southfield, it's not the terrorist attacks affecting gun sales -- it's the political debate.

"All the stuff that's been happening, people are thinking the laws might change," says co-owner Sam Dalaly  "So everybody is rushing to take the class." CCW and CPL classes are more booked than ever before.

But one Detroit woman is speaking out about the background check process after she was approved, despite having a mental illness.

"If you have a mental illness and you're not thinking clear, or you think somebody is trying to hurt you, or somebody did you wrong, you are going to think, 'I'm going to get them.' You know, I'm going to get them back, because you're not thinking clear," says Jannette Williams,

Williams has had bipolar manic depression and schizophrenia for more than 30 years. This week she decided to open up about her experiences with gun laws, also writing a letter to President Barack Obama.

"I do have a mental illness and I admit I do," she says. "I can go back down there tomorrow and redo my application and go get me a gun!"

In 1983, she legally bought a .25 automatic but says it was stolen a few years later. She reapplied in 2011 and was approved to buy another gun but changed her mind considering her condition.

"It's real simple. All you do is go down to [West Grand] Boulevard and Woodward and take a 10 question test and show them your drivers license and that's it!" she says.

Physiatrist Dr. Gerald Sheiner of Wayne State University has studied many mental illnesses and hopes people on all sides of the gun control debate can find some sort of middle ground.

"I think that we're nowhere near cautious enough in our policies on firearms," says Scheiner. "Because if you have a firearm in your home, you have a 10-fold risk of someone in your household commiting suicide; you have a four-fold risk of shooting a family member when you think you've encountered an intruder."

On occasion, Williams still considers getting a gun even though she thinks she shouldn't have one. She sometimes worries about her safety living alone in one of the most dangerous cities in America.

"I don't have to be a complete victim; I can go get me a gun -- but then they'll say, 'Oh, she had bipolar.'"

A sensitive issue, but Williams said she felt it was important to put her embarrassment aside and talk about her struggles so we can keep working towards stopping shootings caused by mental illness.

Current state law says you cannot buy a gun if a judge finds you unstable enough or if the person has been involuntarily committed due to mental illness.

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