Guns and the Mentally Ill

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Dangerousman
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Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby Dangerousman » Fri Nov 22, 2013 9:48 am

This is a good article, it raises some interesting questions and shows the complexity of the issue. I hope it provokes thoughtful discussion.

[url]
http://reason.com/reasontv/2013/11/18/t ... s-and-guns[/url]

But some forensic psychiatrists, whose jobs include the task of identifying potentially violent individuals, say that targeting the mentally ill isn't as simple as it sounds.

snoqueen
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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby snoqueen » Fri Nov 22, 2013 6:14 pm

I remember bringing up some of these points in a gun thread at least a year ago. Psychiatrists can't foretell who's going to become violent; all mentally ill people are not violent, not even a significant fraction of them; and believing more mental health facilities are going to put a significant dent in our gun violence problems is wishful thinking. The mental-treatment approach was put up as a distraction during the Sandy Hook aftermath when for a while it seemed as if stricter screening of purchasers, registration and sharing of registration databases, requirements for a gun license, and other legal modifications were in the works.

Of course we know that legislation failed, though it's hard to imagine the failure was because the mental-treatment approach was deemed sufficient. More likely it was big money leaning on legislators.

It's hard to be comfortable with the fact the family in the article had their house searched without a warrant. The people say they won't let anybody in again without a warrant and that's perfectly reasonable of them.

At the same time, this comment by the man in the family made me sorta roll my eyes:

"They didn't need to do that," says Lynette's husband, David, who described a scene in which the officers spread all of their guns and ammunition on the front yard as the neighborhood watched. "They embarrassed us in front of the neighbors."


From my point of view, if you are embarrassed by having people know what is in your house, it's kind of on you. It wasn't a houseful of sex toys. The people in this story had a whole bunch of guns, and if they were embarrassed it might have been because their neighbors were thinking about the Lanza family in Connecticut, who in hindsight were hardly safe neighbors to the families of their town.

On the other hand, the family in the present link experienced a major law-enforcement overreaction to what sounds like a distressing but non-threatening mental problem, and the whole gun thing might not have happened if a more sensible investigation of the woman's involuntary commitment had been made.

You can say having a mental problem (or a medication problem, really) isn't illegal. You can say keeping a houseful of guns isn't illegal. So is the point where things went wrong the overwrought investigation of the woman's mental status, or was it the family's possession of a bunch of guns (so it sounds) in their house?

I guess from my own point of view keeping a bunch of guns is totally avoidable while mental illness may not be, so it makes sense to address avoidable risk factors before unavoidable ones.

At the same time, we might keep in mind extreme cases make bad law, and look at a more general overview of factors contributing to gun violence instead of focusing first on these oddball cases.

In the overview, I would agree with the article if its point was to show mental health records are not the ideal place to begin when trying to protect public safety. I would say the place to begin is to find what factors people who carry out gun violence have in common, and then try to find ways to mitigate those factors.

peripat
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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby peripat » Fri Nov 22, 2013 7:59 pm

snoqueen wrote: I would say the place to begin is to find what factors people who carry out gun violence have in common, and then try to find ways to mitigate those factors.


And the first thing they have in common is, of course, that they have guns or access to guns.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby pjbogart » Fri Nov 22, 2013 11:21 pm

peripat wrote:
snoqueen wrote: I would say the place to begin is to find what factors people who carry out gun violence have in common, and then try to find ways to mitigate those factors.


And the first thing they have in common is, of course, that they have guns or access to guns.


And they often seem obsessed with guns. Afraid of their own shadows. Harbor resentment for government. Paranoid. Collect guns and knives. Buy gun porn magazines. Believe that their knowledge of guns equates to useful knowledge. Seem desperate to prove that their fascination with firearms is normal and healthy. Constantly attempt to distinguish gun violence and gun possession, almost as though they're protecting the gun from criticism when real lives are at stake.

Yeah, they need to remove firearms from the mentally ill. Starting with the people obsessed with firearms.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby David Blaska » Sat Nov 23, 2013 11:43 am

The experience of State Sen. Creigh Deeds in Virginia might offer instruction. He tried to get help for his mentally ill son and was denied. If a state senator can't get help ... Of course, Deeds was not the victim of gun violence -- he was stabbed by a knife -- so maybe that doesn't count.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby peripat » Sat Nov 23, 2013 2:05 pm

And probably because his son used a knife rather than a gun, Deeds is still alive.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby jonnygothispen » Sat Nov 23, 2013 4:33 pm

I think D-man's sayin' that if we keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill, like Wayne LaPierre, then everything will be OK.

https://www.google.com/search?q=Wayne+l ... =firefox-a

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby David Blaska » Sat Nov 23, 2013 5:47 pm

peripat wrote:And probably because his son used a knife rather than a gun, Deeds is still alive.
And that is your only takeaway from this? Nothing on a parent pleading for mental health services?

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby Detritus » Sat Nov 23, 2013 6:31 pm

David Blaska wrote:
peripat wrote:And probably because his son used a knife rather than a gun, Deeds is still alive.
And that is your only takeaway from this? Nothing on a parent pleading for mental health services?

Who do you want to respond to his pleas? I hear that the government isn't supposed to be in the health care business.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby David Blaska » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:03 pm

peripat wrote:And probably because his son used a knife rather than a gun, Deeds is still alive.
David Blaska wrote:And that is your only takeaway from this? Nothing on a parent pleading for mental health services?

Detritus wrote:Who do you want to respond to his pleas? I hear that the government isn't supposed to be in the health care business.
That was not responsive. He wasn't asking for ObamaCare. If he had been, he'd still be getting error messages. The father sought a mental commitment. That is a quasi-police action. The killer at Newtown, Ct., and at the Gabby Gifford event in Arizona, and at Virginia Tech were nuts, too. You can lock up all the guns or lock up all the nuts. At least when the parent pleads for help.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby Henry Vilas » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:17 pm

Ever since Reagan freed the mentally ill from institutionalization and put them out on the street with very little support, the problem has escalated.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby snoqueen » Sat Nov 23, 2013 7:55 pm

Mental health commitment is a court proceeding not a police action.

Another family that pleaded for one and didn't get it is the parents of the man who killed three farmers out in the western part of the state earlier this year. (That killer did not use a gun, incidentally.)

While the topic title is guns and the mentally ill, it seems perfectly reasonable to expand the discussion to public safety and the mentally ill. These are difficult situations all around and it's important to separate cases where parents and kids just don't get along from ones where the parents realize a kid is dangerous and genuinely should be kept away from the public.

I agree with Dman's intro (in the OP) implying that mental health and public safety present complex issues. This might be a place we can have a discussion where, without abandoning our own personal beliefs, we can acknowledge that complexity: the difficulty of getting mental health commitments, the questions faced by families that keep guns and have family members with mental health issues, the way behavior that seems inevitable in hindsight doesn't get handled in a proactive manner, the hazards of overreaction that probably lead to underreaction in the next case, and much more.

Here's another story where it seems like someone should have seen it coming, and it fits with the domestic abuse topic we've been addressing in the Zimmerman case elsewhere on the forum:

http://www.nytimes.com/projects/2013/two-gunshots/?hp

This is a particularly complicated one because a) one character was a cop; and b) a death was ruled a suicide under conditions that leave considerable question. In my own mind, I filed it under "People Who Absolutely Should Not Keep Guns in The House," but quite a few characters in the story saw it a different way. See what you think.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby peripat » Sat Nov 23, 2013 9:03 pm

Well, where mental illness is concerned, if David has a solution I wish he would attempt to see it made reality. Whose word do you take- that someone is a danger to themselves, to others, and what do you do then? Through the 50s when people could be committed because their family members wanted it so a number of people ended up locked up for no more than disagreeing with parents or spouses or some such. And stayed there.
Regarding police solidarity- that needs to stop. They need to serve truth and justice before they serve each other. For all the talk of the danger of the job, police officers barely hit the top ten of on the job deaths- http://www.safetynewsalert.com/top-10-j ... ath-rates/ they don't even hit the top for homicides. It is the culture of policing that needs to change. Right now they protect each other before they protect citizens and that makes them the biggest most lawless gang in town, in almost every town.

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby David Blaska » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:22 pm

snoqueen wrote:Mental health commitment is a court proceeding not a police action.

Enforced by the police. Police as in the coercive powers of the state. Yes, good example of the western Wisconsin case where a fireplace poker proved as fatal as a firearm to three adults. Are we beginning to detect a common thread between firearm, knife, and fireplace poker?

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Re: Guns and the Mentally Ill

Postby David Blaska » Sun Nov 24, 2013 6:28 pm

Henry Vilas wrote:Ever since Reagan freed the mentally ill from institutionalization and put them out on the street with very little support, the problem has escalated.

Talk to Eddie Ben Elsen (R.I.P.) and other liberal activists about that. In any event, difficult to make the different drummer out on the street take his meds.


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