(courtesy nytimes.com)

The following letter to the Editor was written by the Director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Susan Rogers regarding the New York Times article ‘When Right to Bear Arms Includes the Mentally Ill‘:

To the Editor:

As someone who has a mental illness, I was dismayed to read your article about guns and violence. It misses the point, which is that the United States needs much stronger gun control laws for everyone . . .

Although the prevalence of mental health conditions is about the same around the world, the “U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population,” according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. That is because of the ease of acquiring firearms here.

Although your article does correctly state that the “vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent,” this kind of coverage can only add to the discrimination and prejudice associated with mental health conditions and drive people away from seeking treatment.

SUSAN ROGERS
Philadelphia, Dec. 23, 2013

52 Responses to The Director of the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse Throws Everyone Under the Disarmament Bus

    • Exactly. She’s not well to start off with. How many gun “laws” do we have now Susan? Do you REALLY think if we double that amount things would get better? If so, you are more sick than you thought you were. Criminals do NOT FOLLOW LAWS. That’s why we call them criminals. You can enact 100 NEW gun “laws” tomorrow. They will do NO GOOD WHAT SO EVER.

      • I want to know where she got her “20x higher” number. everything I’ve seen suggests that it could be as high as double for a country you can loosly possibly maybe compare to the United states once you tie on a few and overlook the frequent differences in bookkeeping.

        Oh! wait! “FIREARM homicide rate”

        once you include homicide via knife, blunt object, improvised weapon, car, etc etc etc… and factor for the differences in bookkeeping between a country like the United Kingdom and the United States, that difference in homicide rate goes away. In fact, it often swings the OTHER way, suggesting that the presence of more guns keeps us safe from all of Susan’s Friends who are wielding their YOUR SPECIAL trophies as they fly off the hinge.

  1. She doesn’t want people with mental illnesses to be treated differently, so her solution is to put everybody in a padded room. Makes perfect sense.

    • While it is impossible to tell at this juncture, I highly suspect that she may have also suffered from Pre-partum Stupidity, During-partum stupidity, and Continuing-despite-numerous-attempts-at-rectifying-the-situation stupidity.

      To quote the great Ron White…. “You can’t fix stupid.”

  2. So another rehash of the standard, “I know *I* couldn’t possibly handle a gun…so there’s no way *you* could!” line?

    Really? I find your narrow-mindedness…disturbing.

  3. And we should take the advice on anything, much less our natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms, from someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness because….?

  4. She seemed to make a point similar to Robert’s: the mentally ill avoiding treatment to avoid stigma to avoid losing gun ownership rights.
    At the same time this will increase the mentally ill abuse of firearms and generate a call for more gun laws because the mental health common-sense laws are not strict enough.

  5. I am a former paratrooper, some might consider that as having had a death wish. The only question that I missed on the form when I bought my shotgun was, I did not classify myself as being a white non hispanic. Who is crazy here? I had ID proving I was a legal American Citizen, and a government form was worried about my race?

      • I used to enjoy playing with the proto-PC Nazis when the Armed Forces were first surveyed to determine their racial “diversity.” When they asked for race, I’d put “Human.” They didn’t seem to enjoy that level of accuracy…

        • That is technically correct as there is no major DNA differentiation between races: there is greater genetic diversity within races than between races. The genes expressing variation in melanin levels (colour variation), are a mere fraction of the genetic diversity shown in the human genome. You are probably closer genetically to a New Guinea tribesman than you are to many in your own wider family.

  6. “As someone who has a mental illness… the United States needs much stronger gun control laws for everyone . . .”

    Well, I think we found her mental illness.

  7. Last time I checked “firearm homicide” was already illegal. Exactly what law do you propose that would create a noticeable increase in the percentage of CRIMINALS that actually pay attention to LAWS?????

    Guns exist, they will always exist, you are a lunatic….. any questions???

  8. “Although your article does correctly state that the ‘vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent,’ this kind of coverage can only add to the discrimination and prejudice associated with mental health conditions and drive people away from seeking treatment.”

    Perhaps if we want to avoid discrimination and prejudice, we could start with stopping discrimination and prejudice against gun owners, the vast majority of which are law-abiding citizens, many of which would protect YOU and anyone else around from a bad guy if the need arose.

    And perhaps if we stopped calling for pre-crime laws (magazine restrictions, carry restrictions, etc.) that restrict people not for the harm they have actually done to others, but the harm that they might do … we could then focus our efforts on catching and punishing those that have actually done harm to others.

  9. You guys are all being disrespectful, to a woman with a mental illness, that wants to take our guns because criminals with guns kill people.

    This all makes perfect sense to her. Cause she’s crazy.

  10. What did Einstein say? Something about the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.
    So, Ms. Rogers wanting more gun laws just validates Einsteins theory, as she herself wrote that she suffers from mental illness.

  11. “U.S. firearm homicide rate is 20 times higher than the combined rates of 22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population,”

    So our “firearm” homicide rate is high. Those countries tend to have homicides that feature other means. What type of homicide would she prefer. As a crazy person, would she prefer a higher chainsaw homicide rate?

    • What the hell does are these “22 countries that are our peers in wealth and population?”

      If there were 22 countries that were our peers in terms of population, they would account for 7.2 billion people on their own, not counting the contribution of places like India and China, which far surpass our population.

      Actually, if you rank countries by population you’ll find that, with few exceptions, the countries that are our peers in population are not our peers in wealth and vice-versa. Perhaps one exception would be Japan, whose population of about 127 million at least puts it in the same order of magnitude, but which has a sky-high suicide rate that eclipses any difference in homicide rates.

      I’d be willing to be the rest are all rich nations with small populations cherry-picked to suit their agenda. Russia has nearly half our population, and wealth enough to have posed a serious existential threat to us for decades. It also has sky-high homicide and suicide rates. Somehow I doubt they included it among our peers.

      • I would like to see a list of those “22 countries”. I assume England and Australia are on the list. It just strikes me that people like her assume that if firearms go away then people just can’t kill each other any more. Never mind, that all those countries that have severely restricted access to firearms have seen steep increases in murder by other means and overall increases in total violent crime. And, those crimes seem to be crimes of the physically strong against the physically weak.

  12. As long as you have a MAGICAL UNIFORM everything’ll be fine!!!!

    http://blog.pennlive.com/midstate_impact/print.html?entry=/2013/12/state_trooper_cant_have_gun_wh.html

    “Pennsylvania State Trooper Michael L. Keyes is in an odd situation.

    When on duty, he can carry a gun.

    Yet while off duty, he is barred by law from possessing any firearms, because seven years ago he suffered from deep depression, repeatedly tried to kill himself by taking drugs and was involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

    Keyes’ latest attempt to be allowed to have a gun all the time was rejected this week by the state Superior Court.”

  13. RF, how on earth do you come up with this stuff? You couldn’t pick a better target than Susan Rogers as poster-girl for “let the crazies run free…but no guns for you!” A close associate of the attorney who actually launched the national shut-down of in-patient mental hospitals, she’s made her living for decades working for mental-health non-profits non-profits run on your tax dime.

    This work came after a brief spell working for the late Al Goldstein, creater of Screw Magazine. You can’t make this stuff up. And yes, this is public information. If a degree in English Lit and some work with Al isn’t the perfect resume for running mental health sites on the public dime, what is? I mean, she’s sincere…..very sincere. And very sure she knows better than you what would make a wonderful world, constitution and its motivations be damned.

    You’ll note at the bottom of the National Mental Health Consumer’s site that even that organization is funded with your tax dollars, and is associated with, probably gets much of its funding from, Southeast Pennsylvania Mental Health Organization…which is also funded with your tax dollars. Yes, they need web sites to help them. Taking their meds wouldn’t suffice. In-patient care wouldn’t help. They need web sites.

    If you need a perfect example of a progressive who is absolutely certain you are wrong and she is right, but who accesses, and carelessly, a very limited set of data, this is your person. This should be obvious from her summary misstatement of Brady so-called gun facts. If you asked her what the US firearms homicide rate was if the urban minority gang bangers were removed, she’d have no idea. If you asked her what nations have the highest gun homicide rate per 100K guns, or per 100K population, she’d have no idea. She’s certain that guns are evil, because, well, psychotics on the street and off their meds! But don’t you try to lock them up, even with a right to a hearing. Don’t try to force them to take meds even with a recent history of paranoid delusions, because, well, that’s so unfair!

    It is safe to say that a majority of her “consumers” cannot legally own a firearm in the US. Do I think people diagnosed with severe autism or a psychotic disorder, for example paranoid schizophrenia, should be banned from owning guns? I’d say yes. Susan would change the subject and say “none of you need any guns!” Making the streets safe for psychotics off their meds is a tough job. Many violent offenders also have a psychotic illness. Prison officials know it, and can’t get the staff psychiatrists they need. Indeed, even in prison they have legal and practical difficulty getting psychotics to take their meds, because of the law, which got way ahead of government’s ability to provide effective treatment for them or safety for us.

    Rogers is one of the many actively working to encourage and maintain a system in Pennsylvania which cannot force psychotics to take their meds, and cannot house them in suitable locked facilities. This leads to Pennsylvania jails and prisons being the new mental hospitals….but only after the people flee their group homes, perhaps with their state-provide car and health aid driver, and commit a crime. That’s right. They refuse their meds. They get a warning that they’ll end up in jail. Then they go commit a crime and end up in jail. But Rogers doesn’t want you to shoot them when they swing the knife at you. Because, apparently, it’s their right to be free and psychotic.

    She knows best for you. Do-gooders listen to her, thinking “this is just my kind of BS!” Yes, we need much better care for those who cannot understand the words and feelings of others (autism) and the delusion-prone, and the impulsively violent. No, a loose system of unenforceable out-patient medication and newletters isn’t the answer, nor are prisons a humane alternative to mental hospitals. Yes, enforced medication on an out-patient basis is probably the best answer, but not one Rogers would accept.

    I have no doubt whatever that Madison, Franklin, Jefferson, and Mason would have understood and approved the ban on guns for those with serious delusion-producing mental illness. It isn’t difficult for professionals to spot. The right to periodic discharge hearings represented by an advocate should be mandatory. Gun rights should be withdrawn, however, until ten years have passed free of delusions or violence. Rolling together depressive illness and psychosis/schizophrenia makes little sense. They are very different conditions.

    • Philly used to have a place for the mentally ill Bybarry had some problems being a state run agency mismanagement was common but instead of reforming it was closed the result homeless on the streets of Philly and no place to take them when they go off the meds. and the city constantly violates state Constitution and specific state law on gun owners. of coarse its such a well run democratic city that constantly raises taxes

    • “Gun rights should be withdrawn, however, until ten years have passed free of delusions or violence.”
      As the parent of a long-term paranoid schizophrenic who had been both hospitalized and living in group housing, I agree with everything you wrote but the above. I feel that the gun rights for people with that and similar diseases should be removed for life.

      There have been multiyear periods during my child’s hospital confinement where they exhibited few outward symptoms of delusion, and yet were suffering mightily from the disease. Literally in one hour the full-blown mania returned.

      Coping is NOT a cure, and meds lose their effectiveness over time and need to be adjusted. How does one know? Full-blown mania returns suddenly; the patient literally wakes up “different.” This can happen at any time during their life, because there are only a handful of actual cures. Not prudent to permit these people to be armed when they wake up, IMO.

      And after perusing Susan Rogers’ site, I must say it is NOT a fountain of useful information unless you know EXACTLY AND PRECISELY what you are looking for. In other words, useless for a parent, guardian, sibling, or SO who wants to get help for someone and doesn’t know the right question to ask. Take this from someone who has been there.

      Susan needs a BIG dose of reality. Soon. She’s playing at helping, IMO, and is doing no one any favors.

      • I agree, Jus. I picked 10 years as a minimum, and, frankly, to avoid some arguments about the “permanent” issue. People become very good at hiding delusions, paranoia, and dangerous ideation. This is known, and has become very public as the stories of the Columbine, Tuscon, VT, and Newtown perpetrators become better known. You are probably right, though a careful hearing system has to be in place to deal with over-zealous professional labellers and those whose financial interest favors restrictions, arrests, and expensive care.

        The lawyers and publicists, ‘program analysts,’ and such that flesh out the NGO’s are selling a product and sponsoring programs. More often than not they are advocates of more freedom for the seriously ill at the expense of everyone else’s freedom and safety. Only decades dealing with the new homeless and the (usually left-wing) delusional killers has awakened the public to the down side of “just letting the mentally ill cope on their own with community support.” The ‘advocates’ seek for themselves housing in safe suburbs or concierge buildings. It is a business. Mental Health NGO’s are supported almost entirely with state and federal grants, as the states and feds try to seem sympathetic while not wanting to deal with the problems if avoidable. These NGO’s have a built-in bias towards community-based support, while fighting off the mandatory medication compliance angle that is a core part of most European community-living systems.

        You have my admiration for sticking with it for your family member. I know it isn’t easy. Few recognize the stress that falls on family or caregivers.

  14. was wondering about the “direct supervision” of a State Trooper with miles of freeway to patrol.

    We can cure lots of diseases but we can never cure a mental disorder, nor control it to the point a person can be trusted with a firearm, except under direct supervision.

    Looks like the law needs a bit of tweaking, because the rest of us might suffer (instead of a relapse) a sudden onset of acute mental disease and thus endanger society.(so no one should be allowed a firearm because they might have a sudden onset of mental disease) Hey its just as logical!

    Never admit depression (or hearing those voices, or seeing those visions) because you can never be cured. So says the PA Supreme Ct. (some editorial comment inserted)

    • “We can cure lots of diseases but we can never cure a mental disorder, nor control it to the point a person can be trusted with a firearm, except under direct supervision.”

      Nope, wrong about that. Some mental diseases can be controlled to the point of what could be called “cured,” provided the meds are correct; some cannot. Example: The military. PTSD is rampant, yet soldiers are sent back to combat medicated.

  15. I kinda got distracted trying to ID all the silhouettes in the image above. I got most of ’em I think. From the top and going left to right.. M16/AR15, Barret, 1911, Glock, HK MP5, ..not sure, HK USP?, Beretta 92, another one I’m not sure–MAC-10?, UZI.

    How’d I do?

    • You got five out of nine correct.
      Both rifles are HK417s (different configurations). The SMGs are an HK MP5A2/4, an UZI and a Scorpion vz. 61. The pistols are HK USP, HK Mark 23, an M1911, and a Glock.

  16. All entitled to an opinion, especially in the US according to my reading of your constitution, by the same token we shouldn’t fall into the trap of further humiliating someone who is mentally ill; Its a PR no brainer, it doesn’t play well in the Supreme Court of Public opinion and enables MSM opponents to portray our side of the debate as uncaring, brutal and crazy and a group who`s views and rights can therefore be ignored/disregarded! the writer may be completely wrong (she is) but but however unconstitutionally offensive and irritating her views are; You can better defeat this attack on your rights by rationally using the facts rather than emotional ad-hominem attacks. Just a thought………………….

    • When the state is taxing us to pay for programs that don’t quite work, paying people that will, living on that dime, advocate against mandatory med compliance as the price of out-patient treatment, the pleadings of the bleeding hearts start to grate. When they take time, using their official organizational identity, to decide that nobody should have guns regardless of mental status, regardless of whether psychotics have guns or knives, then I want to ask for my taxes back. If I know from local public fora that the person thinks she’s right and I’m are wrong, and insults me for it, I’ll let the MSM take a side. The broader public already has, and polls show it. She has no effect whatever on crime, seems to have the mentality of the limitless nanny state, yet advocates that psychotics not be subjected to nanny state force. That’s, well…nuts.

      • Susan Rogers and her ilk = bad or useless. NAMI and similar = good. We need fewer hucksters and more enablers. I’m done talking now.

  17. I was hired by a counseling firm back in the ’70s. Headed by an award winning author of books concerning mental health and acted as a corporate officer. One thing became very apparent. There was an agenda that included the assumption that every human being had mental problems. You were either diagnosed or not diagnosed and there were no exceptions.

    Even back then this was a Red Flag for me.

    I watch closely the debate on how ‘mental illness’ is now in the debate on firearm ownership. A VERY slippery slope! Be VERY AFRAID!….call me paranoid…..;)

  18. OK, I’m here with the dumb question(s):

    Why should we ever listen to anyone who is self-admittedly mentally defective on any subject of public policy?

    Shouldn’t we prefer the perspective and analysis of the sane on matters of public policy and law?

    Otherwise, we literally have the situation described by the old saw of “the inmates are running the asylum…”

    • Dyspeptic, that isn’t an old saw. That is a technical description. I suppose outside the immediate mental health issues the phrase is a metaphor for the rest of government.

  19. As someone without a mental illness, I can state unreservedly that Susan shouldn’t own a gun. Or a car. Or vote. She needs to devote time to recovery.

  20. Oh come on, Noddy Holder did by far the better version! Slade were one of my favourites at high school. Good fun stuff. But, to be blunt, people with emotional problems, mental issues and substance abuse issues, have no business handling firearms. At present, the USA has no real system for weeding out these folk from the ranks of firearms owners, so you are vulnerable.

    Here in NZ, we have had a rash of recent shootings. One a hunting accident (to a German tourist), and two domestic shootings with rimfire rifles. You can take it for granted that nobody involved will be allowed near a gun in future, and all weapons will have been seized. Still, not bad going for a country of 4 odd million people. And no actual fatalities for several months. The lack of handguns probably accounts for the few shootings. And we also lack the kind of twisted public policy that lets a mentally diseased person accept a public paycheck for maladministration and pontificating on subjects they lack any knowledge of.

  21. First of all, everybody say it with me: “Psychology is not a real science!”. Its founding principles were dreamed up (literally) by a coke addled Austrian madman (and another one caused some difficulties a few years later) – they both used Evolutionary methods to flesh out their theories, and they are both as safe to follow today (i.e. not, for those who don’t understand irony).

    The latest list of “mental illnesses” is one of the largest books available, and has expanded to increase the revenue of mental health practitioners, not to improve the health of the population. There is a reason that mental health is the Uncle Festus of the health system. Genuine mental illness is clearly visible to a layman, and the over complication of symptomology and the related psychopharmacological interventions has become a cash cow for charlatans for decades.

    The difference between functional assessments and divergent mental processes is easily illustrated. For instance the difference between neurotics and psychotics is that neurotics build castles in the air, psychotics live in them. WE can all cherish odd opinions, and see the world differently, but as long as we function in the real world, so what?

    The danger comes from obsessional behaviour, inflated expectations, and the resultant violent outbursts that arise when these expectations are not met. There are more murderers who fit the definition of personality disorder (therefore legally sane) than the genuinely mentally ill. We should still not provide the mentally ill with the opportunity of acting out during intermittent aggressive periods, by giving them access to firearms. That would not be fair.

    We have a system where firearms licenses are only issued after the Police examine a person’s personality and family and neighbors by personal visits, to ensure that no grudges are held, nor any violent outbursts likely. Americans may find such a system too intrusive, but it has served New Zealand well to date.

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