TTAG reader NYC2AZ writes:

I think something needs to be highlighted: the after-action reports of attempted or successful mass murderers. While the NRA hangs their hat on the “mental health” angle, that tactic is as flawed as the “ban guns” angle. Easy and uniform answers for these acts are unlikely. Each individual who attempts or commits mass murder is different in their approach and their reasons. Further, the NRA is starting to see that the antis can play the “mental health” card as well, with such do-nothing legislation as “the gun violence restraining order.” The following article excerpt (after the jump) is another example of someone who was “evaluated” (much like Elliot Rodger) months prior to their murderous event. But in this case, the murderer was stopped by armed intervention within 90 seconds of starting his attack . . .

A teen who fatally shot another student at his suburban Denver high school last year had been deemed “not a high-level of threat” after shouting a death threat against his debate coach three months earlier, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.

The disciplinary records show that Karl Pierson, 18, was allowed to return to class in September, less than a week after he was demoted from captain of the debate team and said he would kill the coach, who was a school librarian. The documents say Pierson showed no remorse for making the threat . . .

The documents offer the first glimpse into the response to the threat Pierson made Sept. 3. Authorities and school officials have acknowledged that he threatened the debate coach but have never explained how that threat was handled, even after other students’ parents demanded answers.

The documents also show that just two days before the shooting, school officials sent Pierson home early after he pounded on a locked classroom door so hard that teachers in other classrooms could hear him.

The information in the documents, which were submitted into Pierson’s student record by then-Assistant Principal Kevin Kolasa, was verified by two people familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk about it.

61 Responses to Mental Health Approach to Preventing Mass Shootings: It’s a Trap!

  1. Makes a real solid case for armed teachers, janitors and administrators, and even students at the college level. No way to tell (in many cases) if someone is suffering with mental problems.

    Hint, if they are on mind altering prescription drugs, maybe they should be looked at a little closer. But then again, millions of people are, and don’t go on shooting sprees.

    Otherwise, you just disarm everyone to be sure. That’s been done many times and in many places. Never turns out well for the average Joe in the end.

    Oh yeah, and there’s that pesky second amendment thing too.

      • Funny that you say that.
        An 18y/o most certainly has a Second Amendment right.
        An 18y/o can possess an handgun or long gun legally.

        What I find funny is that a 15y/o cannot buy any type of firearm, cannot buy handgun ammunition, or get a CCW, because they are not ‘responsible’ enough, but they can, in many states, get an abortion without parental notification or consent….

        • Hey I’m 18 and I don’t know what country your living in but that isn’t true here. Can I buy a rifle in my country? Legally, yes. But in real life no. If I want a rifle it is automatically registered and no matter how bad I want one, which is enough were I have already decided to leave all of my family behind and move to the United States as soon as I can, I can not bring myself to do so as long as my country tries everything to pass gun control and has a police squad going to peoples houses and asking for there guns, though they don’t have warrants. Add to that the fact that I see a therapist and “seeing a therapist for any reason equals being mentally unstable” and you can understand that I don’t want a government that doesn’t want me to have a gun to know that I have guns. I have to wait three years until I can purchase a pistol and even if I managed a carry permit it would be useless with all the gun free zone where I live. The tormenting thing is that we have a Moisin Nagant, Rem 870, and a Savage 22 that were bought before the registration law took effect and there is no place to use them less than too far away. There are plenty of pistol ranges for the 22 but I realy dislike that Savage, there is nothing I like about that gun, length of pull, sights, the magazine release, the magazine itself, stock material, I didn’t pick it out and it was made for someone much younger than I. Then I can’t get to the range much because of poor health and have no chance of defending myself for the same reason, (guns have to be locked in a safe), add that all up and you have an unhappy resident of Californistan. My dream is to start a gun company but I don’t feel like I’m free in my pursuit of happiness here, the thing that makes me mad the most is that when the long gun registration passed I read a quote in an article, I still remember it clearly enough: Since the state already retains handgun purchaser information, I see no reason why the state should not also retain information pertaining to the sales of long guns. Sorry about complaining but it’s too frustrating to not let out. In November I get to vote the turds out.

        • Sorry that you don’t live in the US and that your country doesn’t have a Constitution that recognizes your God given right to defend yourself with the best tools available.
          In the US, the federal law states that an 18y/o can buy a rifle or shotgun from a licensed dealer, but not a handgun. Have to be 21 to purchase a handgun from a dealer. Some states have additional restrictions, such as the Virginia law that prohibits a person from purchasing a pistol grip only shotgun unless they are 21.
          Some stats ban certain firearms, such as New York, California, New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachuetts, which still have bans on AR-15s that have certain features.
          There is also a federal law called the National Firearms Act that requires a person to register certain firearms like short barreled rifles (rifles with a barrel less than 16″ and an overall length of 26″), short barreled shotguns (less than an 18″ barrel) a class of firearms called Any Other Weapons (such as cane guns, pen guns, a short barreled rifle without a shoulder stock), sound suppressors, and Destructive Devices (40MM grenade launchers, mortars, grenades, and so on) and limits possession to machine guns made before 1986 (thanks to an illegally passed amendment to the FOPA ’86). Some states do not allow ownership of some or any NFA items.
          Luckily I live in a state where I can own any legal firearm, and have a bunch of short barrels rifles and 3 suppressors.

          I’m kinda thinking you might be from NZ from your post, but I’m not positive.. Would you mind telling us what country you are from?

        • Zora said he was an ” an unhappy resident of Californistan”. He treats California as a separate country, and for its quasi-socialist government and restrictive laws on EVERYTHING, I can honestly see his point. That horrible place has zero respect and zero tolerance for the things America was founded upon!

  2. Let me start by saying I am a life member of the NRA, and have been for 18 years or so. With that said, if you look at the info online, you will find that the NRA has supported EVERY gun law that the federal government has put into law. At this point in my life I personally trust the NRA on gun issues as much as I trust the federal government. That is not at all BTW.

    • the NRA has supported EVERY gun law that the federal government has put into law

      Total nonsense, unless your point is that no gun law without NRA support is going to be enacted. Which is also nonsense. The Brady Law was enacted over NRA opposition. So was the 1994 AWB. As to the latter, the NRA got its revenge at the polls in 1996.

      • Maybe my memory is hazy, but I recall the NRA supporting Brady so long as the nics was out in place in the way they preferred.

        The NRA hasn’t got power. Gun owners have power. The NRA simply uses gun owner power to perpetuate their lobbying organization. That’s why they had never brought a significant case to court. Courts do nothing to improve their lobbying power.

    • So what, Frank? Did you ever maybe drop a note to the NRA wheels about your grievances during your long tenure as a member? Well?

    • Frank, I try to give everyone who claims to be a gun rights advocate the benefit of the doubt they are who they claim to be. But if you have truly been a member of the NRA for 18 years, and are this misinformed on the facts, as Ralph has ably demonstrated, then you have some homework to do.

      Here is an outstanding book, that I am grnding through, dense with history, and a great resource that might help others like me and Frank get up on step, and level set our shared understandings, here at TTAG, to be that much better informed, to blast trolls back to the darkest regions of ignorance, at NYT, MotherJones, and Raw Story, where they belong…

      http://www.amazon.com/Rise-Anti-Media-In-forming-Americas-Concealed/dp/0739118862

    • Nope. Public schools are already waste lands of civil rights violations. Zero tolerance policies means everyone is punished equally: when our justice system is based on intent. Zero justice.

      When the right of self defense is a natural right; Kids in school are denied the ability to defend themselves from bullies; zero justice.

      Gun free zones mandate that our children are in a killing field. Zero justice.

      And now you want to take away what little privacy they have left.

      I’ve said it before; parents that place their children in most public schools should be charged with mental, emotional, physical and civil rights abuse.

      • School bully prevention systems are a joke. Their advice? Tell a teacher. Don’t instigate an attack. Etc.
        Basically put on your turtle shell and take it in the rear end.

        • How things have changed. I graduated High School 1979. Growing up.it was just an accepted norm that I could and did stand up to bullies and not be punished for it. The teachers all knew who the bullies were.

          There was no zero tolerance policies. We were judged for our intent; if we broke a rule by mistake, we were punished accordingly.

          We actually were taught the three R’s; our diplomas actually meant something.

          If a society is judged by how fairly and justly their children are treated and how well educated they are once they become adults then our current society would be judged harshly and inadequate on all accounts.

        • @ Scrubula: Yup. Tried that angle in High School, when it didn’t work and a punched a kid in his eye socket, I got suspended and he got detention. That’s “justice” in the public school system.

    • Sorry, but you are wrong. HIPPA doesn’t need to be made weaker. If a doctor has reason to believe a person is a danger to themselves or others, there is already a system in place for that, but it could use some work so that it isn’t abused in the manner that the VA has.

  3. All this tells me is that more money should be spent researching mental health issues. We spend more on the research and development on male and female erection drugs than we do on the research to the cause and diagnoses of mental health problems.

    While teachers should armed to prevent tragedies by people who slip through the system, I do not believe the solution is wait for each person who is unstable to show himself and shoot and kill every one of them.

    IMHO, more time and research is needed. As always, a armed person should be available when SHTF. I just do not believe either should be mutually exclusive.

    • There is no financial incentive for the drug companies to change anything, so no changes by Congress or Barry will be allowed. Meanwhile I saw on TV tonight (overseas channel) that Clinical Depression is as common as the common cold.

  4. The issue of “mental health” is a tricky one, not just regarding gun rights but all aspects of liberty. If you can take away someone’s gun because they might be suicidal, do you take away their knives? Do you take away their car, since they could drive off a cliff or drive at high speed into something? Take away anything that they could possibly use to end their life? Involuntarily confine them? On what grounds do you deny someone their liberty – must they be a probable danger to others, or is simply being potentially dangerous to themselves enough? If you do confine them, how long can you keep them imprisoned for their own good? And why?

    Many people say things in anger that they have no intention of carrying out. It’s not the easiest thing for health professionals to determine who will or will not carry out those threats. Hindsight tells us characteristics of those who carried out violent acts, but others have had similar characteristics and have not carried out violent acts against others.

    Something that people must realize – and something I think too many anti-gunners refuse to accept – is that it is impossible to prevent all bad things from happening before they happen. People everywhere must prepare for the real possibility that someone will “fall through the cracks” of whatever system is place, and must be prepared to stop violence directly with violence.

    • “..and something I think too many anti-gunners refuse to accept – is that it is impossible to prevent all bad things from happening before they happen.”

      I have used that angle before with the “save one life” crowd. I wait for them to use the “nobody wants to take your guns” line. Then I goat them into the “every life is worth saving.” Finally I ask them if they only want “reasonable restrictions,” then how many dead people are they willing to accept? That’s usually when they drop the “reasonable restrictions” line and go for the “ban all guns” angle. It works great at social gatherings with people that force me into political conversations.

  5. Ask the Jews in WW2 , the Germans used the mental health issue to round up the groups that they wanted gone …. and now anyone not following the government line is a mental health danger …. Like Christians/Jews/ vets/pro-lifers/gun owners/home schoolers…I did not say that the US government did..

  6. Barking up the “mental health” tree is digging our own grave. The Antis will drive for every hint of a mental issue constituting a life-time 2A dis-abler. So, a mother delivers a new-born and experiences postpartum depression: life-time ban from the means to protect herself or her children. If a person is adjudicated mentally ill AND has exhibited violent behavior then I can see a bar to 2A rights. Nothing short of an adjudication; at least not to get an indefinite ban. (Maybe a temporary – auto-expiring – bar to enable a DA to decide whether to seek an adjudication.) If we allow the Anti’s – or worse yet our own NRA – to open the can-of-worms of mental-illnes we will never be able to hold-the-line. See-a-shrink, lose your guns. See-a-social-worker, . . . See a school councilor, . . . Get a teacher who doesn’t like you, . . . Our medical records will become reportable. The result will, if anything, prove grossly counter-productive. Anyone who feels he should seek a diagnosis will be reluctant to do so. He will, legitimately, fear his professional consultation will become discoverable and be recorded in a government database. That will impure his ability to pass background checks for employment or professional licensing.
    – – – Entirely independent of the gun-issue, people who exhibit evidence of mental illness need to be encouraged to seek help. Driving them underground will hurt, not help.

      • The whole mental health area is nothing but a SCAM to make people think something will be fixed………..The meds are a major cause of Mental health problems …. put the facts out the DRUG industry is the REAL PROBLEM…………..and REAL CAUSE of mass killers etc. etc….

    • It seems like everyone tends to think that all people who see therapists are seeing them for serious mental issues like severe depression or suicidal thoughts. I see a therapist(and I admit I was reluctant in doing so because of the “mental health” argument) just to talk through problems I might be having so I can get advice from an experienced 3rd party perspective. I know several people who do pretty much the same thing, and all of us are very level headed.

  7. NYC2AZ is correct — the mental health gambit is flawed. But it’s also a misdirection play. Low information morons have to blame something for mass shootings, and I’d rather have them blame insanity than the guns. Sometimes ya gotta pick yer poison.

    • I agree in the short term Ralph, but this is going to come back and bite us in the long term (and with more than just our 2A liberties).

      • I cannot say that you are wrong. All I’m saying is that we need to fight today’s battles today. Tomorrow’s battles can be fought tomorrow.

        • The NRA pulled the mental health and video game scapegoats out when they were still scared after Newtown. Instead of standing firm, they panicked and put out this nonsense. They are willing to sacrifice the first amendment for their lobbying strength, and ingored again the reality that blaming mental health simply gives an opportunist in government the power to use mental health as a weapon against political opponents.

          Mental health, as much as we have advanced, is still voodoo science to a very large degree. Every veteran that tried to suck at the PTSD teat for VA benefits is now at great risk of losing their gun rights, thanks to this short sighted tactic by the NRA. We’ve already seen how a disgruntled wife or girlfriend can use a claim, valid or not, of domestic violence to strip someone of their gun rights.

          If this is the type of strategy that the NRA thinks is needed to win, then it’s just more evidence of why we don’t need the NRA. The NRA needs us, and the relationship is not reciprocal.

    • I agree with Ralph as to strategic direction and offer one more reason to stay engaged.

      Yes, the mental health system is flawed, and needs work, for all the reasons that mental health pro’s tried to explain, in the PBS interview RF participted in. The key pojnt that we gun rights activists can and must fight for is fix whats broke in the already existing body of law, for example in CA in the 5150 process.

      And get the cops the training they need to deal with the sick, and the funding for facilities to house them safely, for treatment, instead of being victimized in prison, or hiding from other predators, living in boxes under bridges, in dark alleys and subways…

      And more important, if we dont get in the conversation, for fear of a trap, then we have only ourselves to blame for more ill-begotten NEW laws that deliberate or not, become that trap by referencing guns alone, once again ad the easy solution for the LIV too lazy, or unable to consider ghe complications, of a better alternative.

      For sure, standing back is a fail, for just as the CA guns restraining order ignores the real mental health issues, in favor of yet another blunt device to take freedoms from the law abiding, vs really help the mentally ill,so does Feinsteins national solution mis the real point again, that its not about the tool, but the state of the tool user.

      Is this a tough problem? Yes, just as some have pointed out, you cant put people in neat boxes, and improvements must perforce, be incremental, carefully vetted by real world what works. So its going to require engagement, and co-education, between gun rights and mental health pros. But who would you want in that conversation, rational, fact based gun folk, helping the mental health comunity understand gun rights, and practical lessons learned about what works, in education, technology, lobbying, and good law, vs

      … the “solutions” floated by default politicized “experts” cherry picked by progtards, if we all pick up our football and go home in a huff…

      I dont have an easy answer. If it was easy it would be done already…but just like the NICS, who better to fix that than the law abiding POTG who have the most to gain, by having it done right, and the knowledgeable FFLs who know how best to fix it, and the many many brilliant technologists in the gun manufacture industry, who can contract to do the work…and all of us, who have the most to lose if we sit it out. You dont want to wait for what ATF comes up with, do ya? Thats like asking IRS to manage computer systems, and we know how thats working…

      If you cant run with the big dogs, get up on the porch.

  8. I cringe when I hear the calls for banning guns on the basis of “mental illness.” We have ample historical evidence as to how the left has used the “mental health system” to destroy their perceived enemies. Just witness how the Soviets branded their political and religious foes as “mentally ill” and institutionalized them in what can only be described as prisons. We must understand that the left thinks ALL of us on the pro-gun side are mentally unstable.

  9. I’m still trying to figure out how the many generations before survived such atrocities without mental health laws or privacy violations. It’s safe to say, for the most part, that “witch hunts” are done with. So what is there left to do? Seems that with this discussion, we are acting just like those who deem it necessary to disarm us all. We all “could be crazy” so we should all be disarmed. Doesn’t seem legitimate to bother with such a small percentage of occurrences. At least that’s what we always argue when a “mass” shooting happens. Why do we not follow our own advice?

    • Waiting and reacting is not a sound, stand alone strategy. You can count on one hand the number of changes in senators it would take for the Senate to vote to strip you of your firearms. Worse, you can count on one finger the number of changes in Supreme Court Justices it would take to do the same. The earlier and farther upstream, prior to attacks, we address the worst of the worst crazies, the more likely we can prevent attacks whose high profile aftermath threatens all of our freedoms.

      • I think ultimately I was suggesting something in the realm of changing public opinion, rather than fearing for a wrong-opinion politician.

  10. Giving the “mental health card” to the antis to use is as much of a death sentence for 2A as anything.

    A favorite tactic of leftists going back a century or more is to label dissidents and malcontents as mentally ill, and then throw them into prisons or labor camps where they are worked or neglected to death.

    • And yet, a century or more ago, we had far more firearms freedom in this country than we do today, despite the bad old days of abuses in the mental health arena. Curious, that.

  11. “But in this case, the murderer was stopped by armed intervention within 90 seconds of starting his attack . . .”

    Well la de frickin’ da! I’m sure Miss Claire Davis, the 17 year old student whom the Colorado school gunman slaughtered, is oh so appreciative that the attack ended quickly after her murder. I’m sure she agrees with you and the futility of having addressed that well known psycho’s deeply disturbed state and threatening behavior earlier, in the weeks prior to his shooting spree. Or not.

    • “Well la de frickin’ da! I’m sure Miss Claire Davis, the 17 year old student whom the Colorado school gunman slaughtered, is oh so appreciative that the attack ended quickly after her murder. I’m sure she agrees with you and the futility of having addressed that well known psycho’s deeply disturbed state and threatening behavior earlier, in the weeks prior to his shooting spree. Or not.”

      Yeah.. cause that’s what I said.

    • There are two main principles that created this nation, IMHO. 1) People control the government, not the other way around. 2) You are innocent until you are proven guilty.

      We cannot prevent every bad thing from happening. When your goal is to prevent bad things from happening, history shows you institute restrictions on people that violate one if not both of the principles above. You can’t arrest people for murder before they commit it, and while you can try to create a utopia that reduces the need for crime and violence, there is not way to prevent someone from waking up one morning and doing something unspeakable. This is the price of free will and freedom.

  12. Freedom and liberty are impediments to progressive political agendas. Allowing the state to use the label “mental illness” as a pretext for confiscating guns accomplishing nothing other than weakening 2nd amendment rights. Suffering from clinical depression, for instance, does not and should not diminish our constitutional rights. Despite all the honeyed language about “reasonableness”, “doing it for the children” and other obviously transparent shucks-and-jives, the real purpose of such efforts are nothing more than stealth efforts to to incrementally prevent free citizens from possessing firearms. Gun control ain’t about safety, it’s about control.

    • Sticking our heads in the sand and refusing to tend to the worst of the worst of the crazies among us, only ensures future and frequent spree shootings, which will be used as the pretext you fear to take about firearms freedoms.

      It’s time to cull the herd and excise, through lawful due process, the mental defectives among us whose actions threaten our safety, security and liberty. Rather than wallow in silence punctuated by speculation and brooding, this forum should give voice to the revulsion that all decent people have at allowing the flagrant, violent crazies to live and walk among us unaddressed, whether armed or otherwise.

      • Sooooo… What’s your hard and fast criteria and cutoff for who should and shouldn’t be “culled”, now?

      • Ok genius, let’s hear your plans. First question: How are you going to determine who among us is truly insane? Mental illness is EXTREMELY subjective, so what fool-proof criteria are you going to use to determine who is sane, who suffers from relatively mild mental illness (mild enough that the state has no right to take away their rights, such as depression), and who is the next Adam Lanza? Once you have found them, what then? You talk about “culling the herd” via “lawful due process”, so what are you talking about? What “lawful due process”? You talk about removing said individuals from society, but since you say “lawful due process”, I assume you aren’t referring to executions.

        However, what “lawful due process” is there to imprison someone for life who has done nothing wrong? I also get a kick out of your talk about “sticking our heads in the sand and refusing to tend to the worst of the worst of the crazies among us”, implying that the crazies are as easily identifiable as anyone, and that we simply ignore their existence. Of course, given all your bluster, you probably do genuinely believe that, don’t you? Here’s a tip for you, bud: If you don’t know jack shit about a given subject (such as mental illness), don’t pretend like you do. You only make a fool out of yourself when someone who actually DOES know what they’re talking about corrects you. Idiot.

        • He just thinks his sh*t don’t stink and that he’d be the one doing the culling, versus being one of the culled.

          Kind of funny, when the ‘powers that be’ could point to his very post here and use that as significant evidence that he’s “crazy”.

  13. I am really opposed to any type of mental fitness/illness requirements for firearms ownership.
    Not because I believe whacked out nutjobs should have guns, bur because a quick skim through
    the DSM-V will show you that pretty much anyone at just about any given moment could be
    classified as unfit.

    All it takes is just one unscrupulous quack and a 3 second interview to forever wreck your life.

    • Exactly the point. So many people here talking as if they’d never be caught in the net.

      Beat your chests if you want, crowing about how you just “man up” out of depression or “blow off some steam” to combat anger.

      You know how if a cop wants to find a reason to pull you over in traffic, he will?

      It’s kinda like that.

  14. Play the mental health card wisely because it may end up being the hand that costs you the second anmendment. Any head dr can say your as crazy as a sh!t house bat. Im sure there will be plenty of them more than happy to help push a liberal gun control agenda.

  15. Cute girl distraction.

    For every well health doctor that would disarm you there is one who believes in your rights. They are just a bit harder to find for the antis have them spooked

  16. The mental health issue won’t be handled any better by the government than anything else they do; ham fisted, capriciously, and opportunistically. They already have tried denying veterans firearm access because, um, veterans. There is another apparent common denominator along with significant mental impairment among most of these mass shooters. That seems to be they grew up rich enough that they weren’t the local maniac, but instead were ‘troubled’ and needed ‘compassion and understanding’. This along with families that utterly refused to deal with the hand they were dealt, thereby indulging and furthering their loopy kids’ most unrealistic fantasies.

    John Irving wrote about the idea years ago, describing how the campus in one of his novels was terrorized at will by an over sized and particularly vicious dog, he said the children and pets of the rich and connected can never be imagined to do any actual harm. I think it’s the same thing here, somebody has their thumb on the scale.

  17. This whole “mental health” angle is, indeed, a trap. When those who get to define “mental illness” keep shifting the goal posts, eventually all of us will be disqualified one way or another from owning a firearm. “Mental illness” is a tool of tyrants against those who won’t toe the line, as the Soviet Union and other totalitarian states have demonstrated.

  18. What’s the picture of girl have to do with the story? Not a big deal but curious, is that a picture of NYC2AZ?

  19. It’s the price we pay for freedom. What difference would a few dead children a year make,compared to what goes on in our cities?

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