Skip to comments.Who Is Too Unbalanced to Be Armed?
Posted on 12/26/2012 10:20:02 AM PST by Kaslin
The day of Adam Lanza's murderous assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, Mike Rogers said stricter gun control would not be an appropriate response. "The more realistic discussion," said the Republican congressman from Michigan, "is how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?"
Last week, another Republican congressman, Howard Coble of North Carolina, agreed that "it's more of a mental health problem than a gun problem right now." And last Friday, when the National Rifle Association broke its silence on the Sandy Hook massacre, the group's executive vice president, Wayne LaPierre, called for "an active national database of the mentally ill."
Psychiatrically informed policies aimed at controlling people rather than weapons are popular in the wake of mass shootings, especially among those who rightly worry that gun restrictions will unfairly burden law-abiding Americans while failing to prevent future attacks. Yet treating gun violence as "a mental health problem" presents similar dangers.
An "active national database of the mentally ill" clearly would not have stopped Lanza, who used guns legally purchased by his mother. Even if he had bought the guns himself, it appears he would have passed a background check because did not meet the criteria for rejection.
Federal law prohibits gun ownership by anyone who "has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution." Neither seems to have been the case with Lanza.
Acquaintances reported that Lanza might have had Asperger's syndrome. That label, which soon won't even count as a mental disorder anymore, is not much more informative than saying he was a shy, socially inept loner (which people who knew him also said).
It seems safe to assume that someone who murders randomly selected first-graders is psychologically abnormal, but that is not the same as saying that a specific "mental illness" explains his behavior. Given the subjective, amorphous nature of psychiatric diagnoses, we might as well say the devil made him do it.
In any event, mental health professionals are notoriously bad at predicting which of the world's many misfits, cranks and oddballs will become violent. "Over 30 years of commentary, judicial opinion and scientific review argue that predictions of danger lack scientific rigor," notes University of Georgia law professor Alexander Scherr in a 2003 Hastings Law Journal article. "The sharpest critique finds that mental health professionals perform no better than chance at predicting violence, and perhaps perform even worse."
So even if the mental-health criteria for rejecting gun buyers (or for commitment) were expanded, there is little reason to think they could distinguish between future Lanzas and people who pose no threat. Survey data from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that nearly half of all Americans qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives. That's a pretty wide dragnet.
Should half of us lose our Second Amendment rights, at least for the duration of whatever mental disorder (depression, anxiety, addiction, inattentiveness, etc.) afflicts us? Assuming a prescription for Prozac, Xanax or Adderall is not enough to disqualify someone from owning a gun, what should the standard be?
Even under current law, mental illness can become a label for unconventional political beliefs. Remember Brandon Raub, the Marine Corps veteran who was forced to undergo a psychiatric evaluation in Virginia last summer based on his conspiracy-minded, anti-government Facebook posts?
The malleability of mental illness was also apparent at a 2007 debate among the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. After seeing a YouTube video in which Jered Townsend of Clio, Mich., asked about gun control and referred to his rifle as "my baby," Joseph Biden said: "If that's his baby, he needs help. ... I don't know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being serious."
So perhaps excessive attachment to your guns should be grounds for taking them away. Biden, by the way, is in charge of formulating the policies the Obama administration will pursue in response to Lanza's horrifying crimes.
This is treacherous as it is too easy to define owning a gun as being of symptom of unbalanced.
Adam Lanza was taking Fanapt - FOR ACUTE SCHIZOPHRENIA
The FBI defines mass murder as four or more murders occurring during a particular event with no cooling-off period between the murders.
In 2012, out of a population of 313 million, just 6 people chose to become mass murderers.
That is the proverbial microscopic spec on the point of a needle lost in the biggest haystack youve ever seen.
I’ve taken part in psychology studies for pay, many because I’m willing to say in the questionnaires that I am conservative.
There are surveys / studies that seek to link political orientation to lower compassion, less sensitivity, lower rationality, seeking authoritarianism, less willing to help others, less charitable, not as open minded. Though I do agree with the TED talk that found that liberals are more likely to be novelty seeking and have a lower disgust threshold.
There is already data and a series of studies seeking to prove that conservatives lack traits liberals prize and consider necessary for a “good” society like tolerance of everything.
Given the historical fact of how despots have used “mental illness” as a way of controlling political opponents, I think this article points out some clear hazards. The simple understanding that life has inherent risks that cannot be controlled to a 100% certainty would be a good start toward sanity for those who become emotional in their inability to understand firearms as just one tool (among many others) for personal security.
The question is moot since the lunatics are now running the asylum.
Anecdote from Holman Jenkins column, WSJ, Dec. 19, 2012:
“Dean Martin was once pulled over on a Los Angeles freeway and found to have an unregistered pistol. A reporter asked if the singer thought everyone should be allowed to carry a gun.
“’No, just me,’ he answered.”
Eminently sane, refreshingly honest—lol!
The response to Newtown should simply be mourning. All of the ingredients that allowed these things to take place existed 20, 30, 50 years ago, and throughout human existence. They’ve only started happening with regularity in this country recently. Why is that? I think the answer can be found in this quote by John Adams:
“We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion . . . Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”
Easy answers are unrealistic unless one wants confiscation and the associated increase in crimes (other than murder and mass murder) seen in Britain.
The kid who did the killing in Ct did not own any guns.
Unfortunately, his mother did, and she made them accessible to her son.
We will always have the mentally ill among us. Predicting which of them will become killers is certainly not an exact science.
I was taught in psych class in nursing school, that when it comes to mental health, that mentally, there is no “black” or white” and that we’re all just a different shade of gray.
I recently correctly diagnosed a friends 4 year old with Aspergers Syndrome after our first meeting. I noticed that she walked everywhere on her tiptoes, and noted other behavioral quirks that are common to the disease, such as inability to make eye-contact, inappropriate modulation of her voice, abnormal sensitivity to noises.
Most Aspies are smarter than average and are often the first kids to read and know numbers at her age, but are not socialized at anywhere near their age level. The four year old girl I met is still in diapers.
I know there is some battle going on withing the psychology community (which is a very liberal and trendy community given to all manner of progressive nonsense) to delist Aspergers as a syndrome, but it's one of the most obvious and unique congenital mental impairments.
Here is the Wikipedia article on it, which is pretty good.
The IRS and Homeland Security.
Which raises the alternative question: Is Joe Biden mentally qualified to own a mouth? I'm being serious too.
The problem is abuse.
Shrinks are notoriously liberal and would report anyone walking through their door as “unsuitable”.
This would only work if there were some minimum standards, such as an expressed threat.
Where do the rights of society begin and the rights of the individual end? A psych class question.
When society can no longer compel medication that help the identified mentally ill function, then the violent rampages against the most vulnerable will continue. Thanks ACLU - not. Obviously not all mentally ill needing medication are going to be violent, but for sure the identified mentally ill not taking their medication have been the source of our national grieving.
One time, David Crosby of Crosby-Stills and Nash was caught with an unlicensed pistol. He was asked why he had it. He responded, “John Lennon”. He was institutionalized for thinking he was a Beatle.
There. Fixed it
Yes, sanity is quantitative, not qualitative. It’s never a question of whether a person has mental problems or not, it’s a question of how serious a person’s problems are.