Skip to comments.Public Puts Mental Health, More Police above Gun Control
Posted on 12/21/2012 12:01:26 PM PST by neverdem
Policy makers should focus on what might actually work to prevent massacres.
(Gallup, Inc., December 18, 2012)
Despite what amounts to an all-out propaganda campaign in the mainstream media calling for more gun control, the American people remain unconvinced and think there are better ways to avoid massacres like the one that happened in Newtown.
A CBS News poll taken after the shootings found just 26 percent of Americans believe stricter gun laws would have done a lot to prevent the carnage. A Rasmussen poll found only 27 percent think stricter gun control would be the most effective preventive measure. Almost half (48 percent) of those surveyed told Rasmussen that taking better action to treat the mentally ill would be most effective. Another 15 percent think focusing on violent movies and video games is best. An astonishing 86 percent told Rasmussen that they want the United States to take more action to identify and treat those with mental illness.
A recent Gallup poll has the most interesting findings. It surveyed 1,009 adults on Monday night and found that after four full days of media coverage focused on gun control, people felt that increasing police presence at schools (viewed as “very effective” by 53 percent), improving mental-health screening and treatment (50 percent), and decreasing the amount of violence in TV, movies, and video games (47 percent) were the preferred courses of action. Restricting the sale of assault and semiautomatic guns was viewed as a “very effective” strategy by 42 percent of respondents — 61 percent of Democrats, but only 26 percent of Republicans and only 36 percent of independents. Having at least one school official carry a gun was backed by half of Republicans but only a third of independents and a quarter of Democrats.
Those who call for a ban on “assault weapons” or “semiautomatic” weapons are fooling themselves. A semiautomatic weapon is one that ejects an empty shell case and loads the next round into position for firing. And an “assault weapon” is simply a semiautomatic weapon with military-inspired features. CNN’s Piers Morgan claims that they act “like machine guns,” but that is preposterous. Most handguns held today by both criminals and the law-abiding are semiautomatics. A federal ban on some 19 models of “assault weapons” was in effect from 1994 to 2004 and did not measurably decrease the incidence of mass shootings. Overall, the total U.S. homicide rate has fallen by over half since 1980 — which means that, despite the media focus on mass shootings, we are safer as a country than we have been in decades.
Despite whatever executive orders President Obama may conjure up (he has issued controversial orders on recess appointments and privacy issues), the chances for major national gun control being enacted by Congress are very slim. The political tip sheet Hotline notes that while pro-NRA Senate Democrats Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Mark Warner of Virginia are making rhetorical noises about studying the need for more gun control, in the House “GOPers remain legislatively essential to anything getting done.” So far, there has been no major breaking of ranks on guns in the Republican House.
A key reason, beyond the conservative philosophical consistency of House Republicans, is simple politics. A majority of the House consists of Republicans elected from districts that supported Mitt Romney for president, so their base electorates are conservative. Anyone voting for gun control in those districts would almost ensure a primary challenge and opposition from the NRA. The 219 Republicans in Romney districts can also count on several of the nine House Democrats who come from districts that voted for Romney to block all but cosmetic gun-control measures.
In the Senate, gun-control advocates aren’t much better off. Only one of the 14 Senate Republicans up for election in 2014 is from a state that voted for Obama (Susan Collins of Maine). But Democrats have six incumbents standing for reelection in states where Romney won by 14 points or more.
We would all be better off if the federal government and the states focused on policies that are likely to be more effective than gun control and could much more easily be approved by legislators.
Connecticut has the fifth-strictest gun laws of all 50 states, a fact that did nothing to stop Adam Lanza, the Newtown shooter. But it is one of only six states that lack an “assisted outpatient treatment” law, or AOT. Such a law allows a state to compel a mentally ill person to accept treatment if it has reason to suspect the person is in danger of doing harm to himself or others. It applies only if the person has a history of violence, incarceration, or hospitalizations resulting from problems related to mental illness.
This spring, a modified AOT law was debated in the Connecticut legislature. It would have allowed people with psychiatric problems to be medicated if without such treatment they would put themselves or others in harm’s way.
The proposal didn’t even make it out of the state senate’s Judiciary Committee after it was fiercely opposed by the ACLU and state mental-health bureaucrats. “If this went through, I think this would be a significant step backward for the state,” testified Patricia Rehmer, Connecticut’s commissioner of mental health. The Connecticut Mirror reported that “she worries that [an AOT law] would backfire, breaking down the opportunity for a respectful relationship and leading to more difficulty engaging” the mentally ill.
Since two-thirds of recent mass murderers have exhibited signs of mental illness observable to others before their crimes, we might do better to worry about the ways in which doing too little to track and treat the mentally ill can “backfire.” Properly medicated, the mentally ill on the whole are no more prone to commit violence than the rest of the population. Untreated, they can be ticking time bombs.
On the federal level, it is imperative that laws be rewritten so that parents can gain access to medical records from doctors treating their children. Currently, “privacy” laws block doctors from telling parents what is wrong with their kids or what treatment they need.
“We have to change the patient confidentiality laws so parents can help prevent tragedies rather than become a punching bag for the public when something horrific happens,” D. J. Jaffe, executive director of MentalIllnessPolicy.org, wrote in National Review on December 17.
Adam Lanza raised enough concerns in high school to be assigned a psychiatrist to monitor him before he was removed from school by his mother Nancy. Marsha Lanza, her sister-in-law, told Britain’s Daily Telegraph that Nancy “battled with the school district” as she fought to ensure Lanza was getting the support he needed.
Grace-Marie Turner of the Galen Institute, a health-care think tank, told me the questions the Newtown killings raise deserve attention: “Who knows whether Mrs. Lanza tried to get access to her son Adam’s medical records and what the circumstances were. But these excessive privacy laws are a chronic problem in interfering with the relationship between parents and children.”
It’s easy and tempting to focus on the gun, the inanimate object that is used in mass shootings. The media has flocked there like a moth to a publicity flame. The supposed need for more gun control is an easy story to tell. But the reality has a lot more to do with people — the troubled mentally ill, administrators at treatment centers who have seen their budgets cut and their authority reduced, school personnel struggling with the children under their charge, and parents who often are at sea without adequate information about what to do with problem children.
It would be more effective — certainly in the short term — if we focused on the people at the center of these tragedies rather than the instrument with which they commit their evil deeds.
— John Fund is a national-affairs columnist for NRO.
People on BOTH sides of the weapons ban issue often agree on the need to provide active defense for schools, i.e., armed school staff. This is something that should move forward, and IS doable. Teachers and school staff members have already passed criminal background checks. With training and recurrencies, MOST AMERICANS, including half the liberals, would favor this.
We have armed staff at our schools (we’re in Colorado-—NOT the “gun-free” Denver area), including some teachers, not just “security staff.” It actually makes it a MORE relaxed, LESS uptight place. Kids (and parents) feel MORE secure.
The teachers at Sandy Hook, God bless them, stepped into the breach with courage to defend their students. Sadly, they were unarmed.
We don’t need more police.
We need more police doing actual police work instead of revenue generation. (I got a ticket last year for 34mph in a 30mph zone. I got the ticket on the way to work at 5:05 am.)
These are the ones who claim they think gun laws would help; the true number who think this would help is probably somewhat lower. Many of these people are trying to shape the debate by lying (like republicans who give Obama an "F" in all areas, while secretly thinking he may deserve a D- in one or two of his stronger areas). Keep in mind that the public is getting more sophisticated on polling, and quite a few answer based on what effect they want the polls to have, rather than what they really believe.
“Currently, privacy laws block doctors from telling parents what is wrong with their kids or what treatment they need.”
Is this statement really true?
As soon as elections were held in Colorado, showing a sweep of both houses by the Democrats, their Democrat governor immediately invited several gun control organizations to his mansion to discuss what gun control laws they were going to force on the people of Colorado.
They promptly came up with a list of 20 possible gun control laws, that they culled down to the 4 most likely to quickly pass in the legislature.
I mention this because it shows how *ready* the left is to make gun control laws.
However, with a clear majority of the people blaming this event on problems with mental health care in the US, where are the proposals to *do* something about these problems?
To start with, notice how the question is framed, as if it is the “mental health care” of the violently insane that matters, *not* “protecting the public” from the murderous outrages committed by the violently insane?
So let’s change the question. Re-prioritize it. It is *more* important that the public is protected than that murderous, mentally sick people be treated. Which should be just a secondary thought, at best.
If the question is changed, then the changes to the law are clear. Priority #1: Get the violently mentally ill off the street and into state run institutions, where they cannot harm others.
And no, “violently mentally ill” does NOT mean “Veterans with PTSD”, no matter what the administration thinks.
But in any event, we have to put this issues on the front burner, each and every time the leftists and their media allies mention gun control.
“Why does the left insist that dangerously mentally ill people be allowed to run around free?”
Is this statement really true?
I believe it's true once the kid becomes 18 thanks to HIPAA.
I couldn't find it there with a quick scan. The link in the original article spells it out, IIRC.
The Brady/Clinton "Assault Weapons Ban" was in effect from 1994 until 2004.
Columbine happened in 1999.
Sorry about your speeding ticket. It’s so exasperating. Come to my county and you can drive as fast as you want to: all the cops are parked in front of the schools. This would be a great day to stick up a bank here in Maryland, since no cops are available for duty off of school grounds. (Admittedly, we have a disproportionate number of loons here.)
Why does the left and the BS media insist that dangerously mentally ill people be allowed to run around free?
We're in a propaganda war. We need to phrase it for the low information voters. The BS media needs to become totally discredited. The BS media is not just biased. After Benghazigate and Fast and Furious, it's corrupted at its core.
2. Write exceptions into the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) so parents of mentally ill children can get access to medical records and receive information from their childrens doctors on what is wrong and what the children need. Right now, for reasons of confidentiality, doctors wont tell parents what is wrong with their kids or what treatment they need, even as they require parents to provide the care. As a result, when a child goes off treatment, the parents hands are tied. They have all the responsibility to see the person is cared for, but none of the information or authority to see it happens. We have to change the patient confidentiality laws so parents can help prevent tragedies rather than become a punching bag for the public when something horrific happens.
Thanks again. Amazing that a law like that would ever see the light of day.
If anything sensible is done the Marxists would lose one of their favorite excuses for more government power.
Much better than the propagandistic, emotive gut-dumping Soledad O'Brien and other Talking Pinheads have been doing on national television.
Hey! Hey! Knock it off -- no unhelpful arguments in here, we're trying to do gun control! </Schmucky Chucky>
One thing that needs to be done by conservative commenters (people like BOR, George Will, and others <flameproof undies on>), is to unbundle the Marxist power-drive from the excuse-issues they've bound gun control to over the last 60 years.
Then use the naked, bereft-of-excuses gun-control issue as a didactic tool, to show people the naked conflict of intentions between Marxist power-drivers, and the Framers' plan for our freedom.
Then set that against the worldwide Communist body count, to highlight the outcomes we can expect from those lying bastards.
So did the Dunblane shooter, who acted out his horrid criminal deed in a gun-law regime similar to Connecticut's, and the British government's policy action was the only one left available to them, to the left of what they had: complete confiscation and destruction of firearms larger than .22 caliber.
The Russian gun laws didn't stop the Beslan massacre for a minute. Didn't even slow the Chechen terrorists down.
And California had gun laws similar to Connecticut's (someone from California, please correct me) when Patrick Purdy's 1989 rampage through a Stockton, Calif., school kicked off the phenomenon of school shootings and prompted California to ban semiautomatic "assault rifles".
On the morning of January 17, 1989, a person called the Stockton Police Department and warned of a death threat against Cleveland Elementary School. At noon that day, Patrick Purdy, a mentally disturbed drifter, with a significant criminal history, set his van on fire with a gasoline filed beer bottle after parking it behind the school. Purdy then moved to the school playground and began shooting an AK-47 from behind a portable building. He shot more than 100 rounds in three minutes killing five children and wounding thirty others including one teacher. All of the fatally wounded victims were Cambodian and Vietnamese immigrants. Purdy then took his own life by shooting himself in the head with a pistol. Investigators would later discover that he wore a flak jacket that bore the words "PLO," "Libya," and "death to the Great Satin" [sic]. Purdy had also carved the words "freedom", "victory", "Earthman", and "Hezbollah" on his rifle.
Investigators would learn that Purdy had attend Cleveland Elementary School sixteen years earlier. A 1987 police report described Purdy as suffering from "mild mental retardation." They would find no evidence of a specific hatred of Cambodians or Vietnamese, instead those who know Purdy described him as a person that hated everyone.
Is it just me, or is this a trend? Shooters tend to be mentally disturbed losers in life who identify generally with Leftist causes and are not Tea Party-type people.
And they tend to be unimpressed by gun laws, or by criminal laws generally.
Much of what we see going on now is orchestrated, intended to manipulate the masses into accepting, I suppose, a "new world order".
Calling someone a "conspiracy nut" is the same as calling all dissenters "racist", or "deniers", it is intended to censor and silence the opposition. It works, because too many people care about what everyone else thinks about them. They stifle their thoughts, and go along to get along.
When most people are conditioned to believe conspiracies exist only in the minds of the paranoid it becomes really easy to manage an actual conspiracy.
Hitler and Stalin weren't one time deals, Hitlers and Stalins have existed throughout history and they exist today. Only the names ever change.
Don’t speed in Wisconsin.
I got a ticket for going 56 in a 55 zone.
wow...here in Floriduh on the highway, I’ve seen cars tailgate a cop they thought was going too slow, no joke. Other times everyone slows down, afraid to go faster than the cop. Personally, I don’t think anyone is going to get pulled over on the highway here except if they are driving more whacko than usual.