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December 18, 2014
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Mental health and guns

Jane Morris

In 2006, my husband William C. Morris (known as Chris) fired a rifle at a police officer in Narrowsburg, NY.

Our lives changed forever. Chris was sentenced to 10 years in prison and has served six.

In 1999, my husband was diagnosed with late-stage Lyme Disease, which entered his brain and nervous system causing high fevers and many other symptoms. He was prescribed vast amounts of medications—high doses of antibiotics, anti depressants, malaria medicine and pain medication.

In 2003, we sold our home in Titusville, NJ where we had lived for 15 years. The plan was to open a bed and breakfast and yoga center, where I would run the business and Chris would help when he was able. We decided to move to Sullivan County where my grandparents owned a farm house.

Shortly after moving to Narrowsburg my husband started showing an interest in guns. My family and friends noticed a dramatic change in Chris’s personality, and one day, I came home to find Chris in bed with a loaded shot gun facing up toward his head. I told him I was going to make him a cup of tea and I immediately called 911. Chris was put in the county jail for 10 days without hospitalization. Prior to this incident, I pleaded with a local shop owner not to sell my husband guns, but I was ignored. I was in contact with his doctors asking what was wrong, as he was showing signs of depression and bi-polar symptoms. I also went to the courts, where it was documented that my husband was sick. One judge told me to lock up the guns and only give him the key with my knowledge. This seemed very farfetched and Chris did not agree with this idea.

After the incident with the shotgun, my husband was given back his guns. Outrageous! It was about a week later that Chris fired at a police officer. Thank God, no one was hurt. He also claimed there were explosive devices surrounding our property. Apparently he had a psychotic split.

We were a married couple living a very successful life. Chris was a vice president at Credit Suisse First Boston with no prior criminal record.

There were so many warning signs and I made it a point to reach out to doctors and the court system to no avail. Apparently no one heard me.

It is with great sadness that I see many other shootings of innocent people in our country and now the shooting of our children in an elementary school.

There is a major breakdown of our system.

This is not the only story of my husband and guns. In the ‘80s, my husband was a victim of gun violence. A gunman forced his way into my husband’s home in Brooklyn Heights where he lived with his family. The gunman threatened to shoot Chris’s mother and when he defended her, he was shot three times with a .38. He almost lost his life; his recovery took three months.

On December 12, I called Mayor Bloomberg’s office in New York City and spoke with a Robert Feldstein. I told him my story and he told me that he had been working for the past 72 hours with the outpouring of concern, sadness and outrage. He stated he was sorry for what happened and this gave him even more reason to continue the work he is doing.

With a heavy heart,
Jane Morris