The recent indictment of a former Ohio country club bartender for allegedly threatening to shoot or poison House Speaker John A. Boehner is one more example that Rep. Tim Murphy uses to buttress his legislation for more aggressive mental health treatment.
The bartender, Michael R. Hoyt, had a history of mental problems; country club members told the Dayton Daily News that Hoyt’s demeanor had changed since he suffered a concussion when he was mugged two years ago, and the club fired him last fall.
Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican and a psychologist, not only wants to improve mental health treatment, he wants to allow the government to treat more people with serious mental illness without their permission — the most controversial of his prescriptions.
He introduced his bill in December 2013, a year after the deadly shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut put a renewed focus on mental illness.
Murphy, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, has had a steady stream of incidents to help him make his case.
After the Defense Department released a report last March on the September 2013 Navy Yard shooting in which 12 victims died, Murphy said the report “missed the point” by focusing on the security clearance process.
“We can take a gun out of the shooter’s hand, we can keep them out of a secured area, but until the individual displaying psychosis is referred and placed into acute psychiatric treatment, these tragedies will continue,” Murphy said.
Two months later, after six victims died in Isla Vista, Calif., in a near-campus shooting, Murphy said he was heartbroken for the victims and their families but also angered “because once again, our mental health system has failed and more families have been destroyed because Washington hasn’t had the courage to fix it.”
He plans to introduce a revised version of his bill in this Congress.