Mental health

By an anonymous member of Guns Save Life, MD/PhD

The Obama Administration consistently attempts to limit firearms rights, and frequently does so by shrouding those schemes in the apparently laudable goal of keeping firearms out of the hands of “mentally ill” people.

So, what’s the problem?  The Newtown shooting was carried out by a young man with autism. The Aurora Colorado shooter was probably schizophrenic. One of the Columbine shooters was on anti-depressants. You’ve heard the talking heads: Mentally ill people are dangerous! These mass shootings are an epidemic and must be stopped! Who in their right mind would not want to keep guns away from a mentally ill person?

Let’s take a couple of minutes, step back from the emotionalism and consider a few things.

What is mental illness?
Mental illness is a nebulous term that encompasses a broad range of psychiatric disorders.  For example – you just lost your job and feel sad.  Guess what? That’s depression – a mental illness.  You are “worried sick” about your finances.  That’s anxiety. Schizophrenia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, codependency, sociopathic behavior and bipolar disorder are all forms of mental illness.  Some people with these disorders are dangerous. Others are not.

The trouble with the term “mental illness” is that it means different things to different people and carries many emotionally charged misconceptions. Outrageous depictions of “mentally ill” criminals made popular by Hollywood and the Media exacerbate this problem.

In the setting of a mass shooting or some other violent crime, if the perpetrator has a mental illness, people often assume the mental illness to be the cause and that “someone” should have recognized the danger and taken steps to prevent it.

What does the evidence say about that argument?

Can a diagnosis of mental illness predict violence or gun crime?
Data show that the most common mental illnesses have no association with increased gun violence [1]. Even serious mental illnesses have been shown to have no link to violent crime [2].

According to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) 18.5% of US adults have a diagnosable mental illness while 4.2% of US adults have a serious mental illness.

Studies have shown that 3-5% of US crimes are committed by mentally ill individuals [3, 4, 5].  CDC data shows that less than 5% of gun-related killings between 2001 and 2010 were committed by mentally ill individuals [6].

Based on the percentages, it would seem that people who are not mentally ill pose the greater threat.

In fact, there is ample data suggesting that mass shootings and violent crime are related to other factors, such as exposure to violent video games/movies [7] or drug/alcohol abuse.  Simply put, mental illness and guns have been present in the US for centuries. Yet, mass shootings were virtually unheard of prior to the 1960’s.

Will keeping guns away from mentally ill people prevent gun violence or mass shootings?
Several of the recent mass shooters were not allowed to possess firearms – but had them anyway.  The Newtown shooter tried to purchase a firearm, but was denied.  He murdered his mother and stole the guns before going on his shooting rampage.  The Charleston AME Church shooter had pending felony drug charges – preventing him from purchasing a gun.  He received his gun via an illegal straw purchase made by his father.  If someone wants a firearm badly enough, they will find a way to get one regardless of the law.

Almost all recent mass shootings occurred in gun free zones. Laws banning firearms were completely ineffective and actually created the conditions which allowed these mass shooters to commit their crimes.

Let me say this one more time: banning the firearms did not prevent the crimes.

Several states have passed laws to mandate reporting mental health data to a background check system.  For example, the State of Illinois will not issue a concealed carry permit to anyone with a psychiatric unit admission in the last 4 years.  There are two problems with this approach: there is virtually no data showing it works; and this standard tramples on the rights of many innocent, perfectly safe people on the off chance they can stop one spree killer.

Many states have passed laws mandating mental health professionals report mentally ill individuals who pose a significant threat of violence.  The problem with these laws is that the expertise of mental health professionals is directed at treating patients – not predicting their behavior.  There is very little evidence to suggest mental health professionals are any better than the general public at predicting the violent potential of a patient [8, 9].

Laws mandating health care providers report a potentially violent patient places these providers in an untenable position.  If they incorrectly report a patient, they ruin that person’s life.  If they fail to report someone who later commits a violent act, the provider is blamed and potentially held liable.

Glide path to national gun control
Recent mass shootings in the US seem to have one thing in common – someone with a mental illness turns out to be the perpetrator.  In the aftermath of each shooting, gun rights defenders invariably point to the mental illness to deflect public outrage away from the fact that a gun was used to murder innocent people.  They argue that guns are not the problem and that we need to work harder to keep firearms out of the hands of mentally ill people.

Blaming “mental illness” is not only incorrect, but also hands gun control advocates a powerful tool to pass legislation and regulations that can be used to put the USA on a “glide path” to national gun control.  Here’s how:

The electronic medical record (EMR) has become almost universal over the last few years, with health records from childhood and potentially from other sources, such as schools, military, alcohol/drug treatment centers, psychiatric care and many other sources becoming part of this lifelong record of your health and behavior.

The EMR will provide tremendous advantages for your doctor to understand your symptoms and improve diagnostic accuracy.

However, there is a huge downside to the EMR: The government has access to all of this data.

Can the information in the EMR be used to deprive someone of their firearm rights?  You bet it can!  Imagine walking in to purchase a gun and having your NICS check denied because you saw a psychologist for depression or because 20 years ago a social worker at your high school diagnosed you with violent antisocial behavior for getting into a fight?  At the very least, it will be very expensive for a private citizen to defend against the data stored in their own medical record.  All the gun grabbers need to do is make it so expensive that that no one can afford to defend themselves.

Deciding who is safe to possess a firearm
Should there be a list of specific mental illnesses that cause automatic revocation of firearms rights?

For example, schizophrenics have difficulty processing and understanding reality, affecting their judgment,  perceptions and reactions.  Mentally retarded individuals may not have the ability to understand a situation or make a reasonable decision.  Should we have blanket bans for these individuals?  How about someone who is very mildly developmentally delayed, but is able to hold a regular job and live independently?  Where and how do you draw the line?

How about something a little more complex:  autism.  Some autistic individuals are very highly functioning people, including college graduates and tenured university professors.  Others with autism are severely disabled and unable to interact appropriately with other people.  A blanket firearms ban for people with autism would deprive many perfectly safe, highly functioning people of their second amendment rights.

How should society decide who is unsafe? We already have a system in place to do this: the courts.  No one should be deprived of their rights without due process.  If someone is dangerous and needs to have his/her Second Amendment rights limited, then have a hearing.  Bring in expert witnesses.  Allow for a defense.  Do it in the open for everyone to see.  If someone is dangerous and needs to have their firearms rights limited – take them to court!

The current political situation
The Obama Administration is already using “mental health records” to implement the glide path to gun control on several fronts: the VA, the Social Security Administration and  the Congress.  The VA has been attempting to limit the gun rights of returning vets by declaring them incompetent and reporting this to the NICS system.  The Social Security Administration is attempting a similar tactic, proposing to label recipients with a financial fiduciary as incompetent and reporting this to the NICS system.  Finally, Senator Schumer has  introduced a bill that mandates reporting mental health history to the NICS background check system.

These proposals are nothing more than an attempt to circumvent the due process of law.  They turn innocent until proven guilty completely upside down.  Many perfectly safe/responsible people will be wrongly deprived of their rights if these proposals are implemented.

Worse still, these proposals will discourage many individuals from seeking the psychiatric help they need and codify a very destructive stereotype – that mental illness is something to be ashamed of – something that is dangerous or somehow makes you inferior.

The bottom line
Evidence shows the vast majority of mental illness (including serious mental illness) has no correlation with violent crime or mass shootings.

Rolling mental health data into the NICS criminal background check system will put us on a glide path to national gun control.

The evidence that trained mental health professionals can predict which patients will be violent is virtually non-existent. Laws mandating potentially violent patients be reported places these health professionals in an untenable position.

Senator Schumer would have you believe that we need to keep guns away from all mentally ill people.  However, on close examination, his argument is reduced to emotionalism and demagoguery.   They are picking out and isolating a sub-population, attaching a vague label that instills fear, and then using emotions in lieu of logic to argue that we should give up our rights.

There are people with mental illness who are dangerous and should have their second amendment rights limited.  Our society has a mechanism for doing this – the courts.  No US citizen should be deprived of his/her rights without due process.

 

 

References
1. Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research. Guns, public health and mental illness: an evidence-based approach for state policy. Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy. 2013. Available at: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-gun-policy-and-research/publications/GPHMI-State.pdf.

2. Elbogen EB, Johnson SC. The intricate link between violence and mental disorder: results from the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2009;66(2):152—161.

3. Appelbaum PS. Violence and mental disorders: data and public policy. Am J Psychiatry. 2006;163(8):1319—1321.

4. Fazel S, Grann M. The population impact of severe mental illness on violent crime. Am J Psychiatry. 2006; 163(8):1397—1403.

5. Friedman R. A misguided focus on mental illness in gun control debate. New York Times. December 17, 2012: Health. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/18/health/a-misguided-focus-on-mental-illness-in-gun-control-debate.html.

6. Metzl J, MacLeish K. Mental Illness, Mass Shootings and the Politics of American Firearms. Am J Public Health. 2015;105:240–249.

7. Grossman D, Degaetano G. Stop Teaching Our Kids to Kill : A Call to Action Against TV, Movie and Video Game Violence. Harmony Publishing. 1999.

8. Swanson JW. Explaining rare acts of violence: the limits of evidence from population research. Psychiatr Serv. 2011;62(11):1369—1371.

9. Deadly force. Police and the mentally ill. Portland Press Herald. Available at: http://www.pressherald.com/special/Maine_police_deadly_force_series_Day_1.html.

Editor’s note:  A earlier version of this story appeared at Guns Save Life.

Recommended For You

65 Responses to Mental Health & the Right To Keep And Bear Arms

  1. Wait – did an MD just say that autism is a “mental illness”???

    Good god. That is such an egregious mischaracterization that I am forced to call BS on the whole “anonymous” article. What a stupid thing to say. That cannot, cannot have been written by an MD or PhD. This anonymous author is either an idiot, or some sort of wannabe who wishes he was a doctor.

    Autism is not a “mental illness.” Full stop.

        • If being in the top 1% of the most intelligent people on earth is considered “brain damage”, then – have at it. The spectrum of autistic people includes gifted, talented, and exceptionally intelligent folks, and one “side effect” of being “on the spectrum” is having heightened or even exceptional intelligence.

      • A spectrum of developmental disorders that generally include uncomfortableness or awkwardness in social situations.

        Calling autism a “mental illness” is about on par with calling gambling addiction or alcoholism a “disease”, or calling “gun violence” a “public health issue.”

        Schizophrenia is a mental illness. Psychopathy is a mental illness. Sociopathy is a mental illness. Autism is a developmental disorder (or, more correctly, a wide range of developmental disorders covering a huge spectrum of degree of affectedness). It is not something you catch, it is not something you can cure, it is part of who you are. Being autistic is akin to being born with four fingers on one hand – would you call that a “disease” or “illness”? I wouldn’t. Neither does the NIMH.

        • ….. You do realize then phycopathy is not a mentall illness either then… Right? You don’t catch being a phycopath… Your “born that way.” Or, at least born with the predisposition to become one, based on your childhood.

        • “Calling autism a “mental illness” is about on par with calling gambling addiction or alcoholism a “disease””

          Alcoholism, along with drug addiction, are substance abuse disorders, which are mental illnesses.

          “Schizophrenia is a mental illness. Psychopathy is a mental illness. Sociopathy is a mental illness. Autism is a developmental disorder (or, more correctly, a wide range of developmental disorders covering a huge spectrum of degree of affectedness). It is not something you catch, it is not something you can cure, it is part of who you are. Being autistic is akin to being born with four fingers on one hand – would you call that a “disease” or “illness”? I wouldn’t. Neither does the NIMH.”

          You can most certainly be born with a disease. In fact, your description “It is not something you catch, it is not something you can cure, it is part of who you are. ” of autism could also just as easily be said about schizophrenia.

          It seems you’re not trying to destigmatize harmless mental illnesses, but remove autism from a stigma.

    • As an interested layman who has done some research into this topic in the past, I have never anywhere seen anything saying Autism is in some category other than mental illness. Please, support your claims.

      • Well, for one, the UK’s NHS says “On its own, autism is not a learning disability or a mental health problem. But some people with autism have an accompanying learning disability, learning difficulty or mental health problem.”

        For another, the National Alliance on Mental Health says basically the same thing: while classifying autism as a developmental disorder, they allow that people with autism may indeed develop actual mental disorders, saying “Children with autism can also develop mental disorders such as anxiety disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or depression. Research shows that children with ASD are at higher risk for some mental disorders than children without autism.”

        • Your quote from the NHS doesn’t serve to answer my question, it just states a relationship between autism and learning disabilities, and a developmental disorder is a type of mental illness.

    • Uh-oh, semantics police raging with feelings.
      This is why the doctor from Idiocracy had the best diagnosis for anything and everything: “you’re shits all F@#$ed up.”
      No feelz, no wordplay, no regulating language based on societies whims this year.

      In this context what does it matter if the cause is emotional, physical, astrological, paleontological or ontological? The spirit is the same. Anti’s will use any excuse to deem you unfit.

    • The author never indicated that autism was a “mental health” problem at all, merely asked if individuals with autism should be deprived of their rights. Please re-read the article carefully.

      Autism is a brain development problem and many aspects mirror mental health problems at times. It is the gun grabbers who are using that similarity to include the autistic in their prohibitions.

      • Au contraire, the author specifically listed autism among a list of mental illnesses and then classified them all together as forms of mental illness. The exact quote was:

        “Schizophrenia, autism, obsessive compulsive disorder, codependency, sociopathic behavior and bipolar disorder are all forms of mental illness.”

        Putting autism in the same category as schizophrenia, sociopathy and bipolar disorder is insane.

    • Fine call it a “medical condition” like a broken leg then if you wish.

      The real truth is that no one really knows what autism “is” so applying a definition to it is very difficult. Broadly it’s a cognitive problem with lacking the ability to filter incoming information but even that doesn’t really describe it. Autism varies so widely that it’s almost like we’ve stuffed a bunch of different diagnoses into one big one and called it good enough.

      You know all that stuff that shepherds cattle round? Metal gates and such that open and close without the use of human hands at really big livestock holding facilities? It was all designed by a woman with autism without the aid of CAD. She can just see how mechanical parts fit together in her head and design massive systems down to a single screw, nut or bolt including specialty parts she designs in her head. Then there’s Stephen Wiltshire who is starting to make mistakes but just a few years ago could fly over the city of Rome, a city he had never seen before, and draw the entire thing perfectly from memory after a 50 minute helicopter tour. Jason Padgett got the shit beat out of him at a bar and suddenly became a mathematical genius due to brain damage. In many regards he “acquired” a form of autism this way. How? No one knows.

      These are all different forms of autism. Why is one person an amazing artist, another a gifted mechanical engineer and another a mathematical genius while other people are stuck walking in a repeating pattern or executing a single action repeatedly like a terrible form of OCD meeting tourettes? No one knows. It’s thought to have something to do with the layering of the brain but again, no one actually knows.

      Another problem here is that the definition of what makes someone “autistic” is constantly expanding and changing. The truth is that we all have various “symptoms” of nearly every mental illness/condition out there. We all filter out information slightly differently based on our prior experiences, leading everyone to display a symptom or two of autism in certain situations. This has shaped our brain in certain ways and it’s exactly why some folks will walk into a situation having no idea how dangerous it is: they have no frame of reference for the danger and therefore they do something many of us consider “dumb”. You can read about this over at BB&C with their article “The snake is a stick”.

      • “She can just see how mechanical parts fit together in her head and design massive systems down to a single screw, nut or bolt including specialty parts she designs in her head.”

        You are probably referencing Temple Grandin.

        Grandin’s true gift in designing livestock yards isn’t the nuts-and-bolts part, it’s that she has the innate ability to ‘see’ the yard through the eyes of the livestock.

        She somehow ‘knows’ what livestock are feeling-experiencing as they pass through the system and what keeps them as calm as possible, and designs the yard to meet those goals…

        • Could be. I read about this person in like 2005 and my memory, while nearly photographic, isn’t perfect.

          Either way, the woman I’m talking about is a millionaire at this point thanks to her autism “gift”.

          No one knows what this disorder really is or why it varies so widely. That’s the point.

  2. As someone with a diagnosed mental illness that has a CCP, I honestly hope I don’t ever get denied my second amendment rights.

    I have autism, a high functioning version called asperger’s syndrome. I carry a gun religiously, and have been known to suffer mental break downs when I don’t have it. To me my gun is a safety blanket in a broad sense. It helps me feel safe because I know there are people out there that would like to do me harm if they get the chance. My gun isn’t the only thing that helps me feel safe enough to leave my door. I probably have the most absurd EDC but everything I have in my EDC has a purpose for me; my gun and knife are just a parts in that puzzle that make me feel ready and safe.

  3. “saw a psychologist for depression…social worker at your high school diagnosed you with violent antisocial behavior for getting into a fight.”
    Pay attention. This is just one of many strategies the antis have to not only disqualify people from firearms ownership before they ever set foot in a gun store, but for social engineering in general. Political correctness and the medicalization of deviance are terrifying weapons. I’ve read some 3,000 good old fashioned book pages on the history of the Russian Revolution and KGB. Ideological similarities to the Sandersnistas and Clintonbots are eye-opening to say the least.

    • ^^^This!

      Wake up people! Since when did anyone on the LEFT do anything without an ulterior motive? Everything coming out of the Dem/Lib/Left camp is part of an agenda, don’t let your guard down. Oh, and its not a conspiracy theory when they are repeatedly busted. Hell, even Jon Stewart devoted an episode of the Daily Show to comment on just how prevalent the corruption is.

      • We know that University has been a leftist / globalist foothold ….. so where do our ” Mental Health ” experts get trained …. ? If you think and act differently …… why it must be YOU who has a problem, right ?
        See the book list on …. Psychiatry Madness …. at . www. realityzone.com or Need To Know News.

  4. This was a good read save for that bit on a link between violent videogames and violence. Seeing as the author’s cite is from 1999, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he hasn’t gotten around to more recent research which shows no such link.

  5. Crazy is simply a matter of perspective. Who can determine who is crazy and who is sane? No one. Most big city “educated” liberals would refer to me as crazy because I have a large stockpile of survival supplies. Even though I live in a hurricane zone. To them, Katrina was something that happened “along time ago” already, and won’t ever happen again.

    • Yep, all the disorders or diseases listed in the DSM are based on subjective criteria, ie someone’s opinion. To date, there are no objective measures(imaging, lab tests, ect) that can objectively confirm or deny the mental disorders listed in the current DSM. Make no mistake, this is ripe for abuse, and gun owners will be easy targets.

      • While you’re part right, a lot of stuff in the mental health field is subjective, this has begun to change in recent years. More emphasis has been placed on genealogy as a contributing factor to various mental health issues with a confirmed genetic factor and MRI is being used to find neurological causes and affects. Cheaper and more accessible gene analysis and brain scans will probably lead to huge changes in the field in regards to the objectivity of diagnoses.

        • I’m not aware of MRI being useful in finding causes and effects(or for diagnosing more importantly) of DSM classified mental disorders, do you have an example I can take a look at?

        • There’s a lot of danger in getting over-exited about early science.
          There will be a period of time when those who say this is all subjective are met by those who say “look at this chart/scan/gene map.”

          Sure, it seems great and concrete but early on nobody really knows if it is or not. Not until decades of data are collected and scrutinized by many eyes not just the eyes with a stake in the result.

          When plain old bigotry fell out of vogue they used “science” to prove one race was inferior to another.
          Maybe we can just break out the calipers and measure a few skulls?

          Be careful how much trust you put into science. Especially young and exciting science.

        • @shire, very true, especially when modern “science” has been weaponized to push social and health care agendas that are anything but healthy.

    • Just like how Hurricane Sandy happened “a long time ago.” I think progressives just want everyone to be helpless and unprepared so they can feel normal in their abject weakness. Those clowns can’t change a dead light bulb without government assistance.

  6. The only thing I need to know concerning mental illness of any kind, is that the overwhelming majority of those afflicted are not violent in any way – neither a danger to themselves, nor to others (something like just over 97% of those diagnosed). Therefore any agrument for depriving the “mentally ill” of their Rights to self-defense is an argument equally applicable to depriving the population as a whole. That is to say, its no argument at all.

  7. Can anyone name a single case where a mass shooting has been prevented because of the “no gunz!” sign?

    It’s hilarious: I travel to Chicago regularly on business and since Illinois became shall issue, the “no guns” signs are everywhere. I keep wanting to ask people, “So, what do you think that sign will accomplish? You really think anyone crazy or evil enough to want to shoot you will see that sign and say ‘Aw, shucks,” and walk away?”

    I can only presume that the signs are intended to deter sane, law-abiding people who entered the building with no intent to shoot anyone, but once inside became so overwhelmed by the deadly murder rays emanating from their firearm that they could no longer hold back. Oddly, you never seem to hear about that sort of person going nuts outside in the street.

  8. OK, I went back… and I remembered it wrongly. Yes, autism should NOT be listed with “mental health” problems technically. The point of the article is that they are no more a danger to themselves or others than anyone else on that list.

  9. Thing is a lot of people on the opposition feel that if you want to buy, own, carry a firearm etc that that should be considered a mental illness and therefore you should be barred from having a gun. So the mere desire to have a gun should make it illegal for that person to have a gun. And don’t think after Hillary becomes president is that some of them will actually try something like that.

  10. So tens of millions of people have mental health issues and their gun rights should be restrained because one guy a year goes and shoots more than two people?

    Makes sense.

    /sarc

  11. The author neglected or avoided mentioning violence committed in the name of Islam, which authorities reflexively ascribe to “mental illness.” That probably deserves a separate essay, however. Otherwise, an excellent contribution.

    • +1. Read half of Grossman’s “On Killing” years ago. Something didn’t sit right about the book. Did some research into his “research” and holy hell what happened. Part of me wonders how some authors get published, but there have been at least three “true” accounts of CIA clandestine service operatives released in the past four years that have been thoroughly debunked after the fact.

      • If I remember correctly…

        Grossman followed the works of S.L.A. Marshall heavily, who published a lot about the relationship between combat and psychology after WW2. The problem is, Marshall’s own work has been debunked as very shoddy research over the years. So Grossman starting with a shaky foundation caused problems. His whole tirade against video game violence as a direct cause of shootings has been debunked a bajillion times too.

      • See this page in “Stop Teaching Our Kids To Kill,” the very book referenced in this article. See here, page 13:

        https://books.google.com/books?id=0s_DqptMfEgC&printsec=frontcover#v=onepage&q&f=false

        We see aggravated assault rate essentially steady, but the murder rate starts dropping right around 1990, just as video games are moving past the Pac-Man days. There’s no correlation! Saying Grand Theft Auto makes you want to shoot cops is like saying Frogger makes you want to run into traffic and Mario makes you want to jump on turtles.

  12. The point on medical records here is a very, very good one.

    There are a whole ton of “mental health” issues that the Democrats would love to use to bar one from ownership of a firearm.

    I’ve never been one of those people who takes nonsense very well. As such I was labeled as “trouble” and “antisocial” in high school and basically forced to see a psychologist quack because I was “non-conformative” (“Well no, I’m not going to roll over and conform to your outright bullshit because I know it’s bullshit!” just digs the hole deeper. Trust me on that.)

    This guy was a total fruitcake but that doesn’t mean other people wouldn’t read what he wrote about me and believe it. According to this asshole I was a antisocial narcissist with borderline psychopathic tendencies, a disturbing ability to switch empathy on and off and a drug addict. He surmised the last because at the time I smoked and I flipped two cigarettes in a fresh pack, a “lucky” and a “fucky” which was some retarded social-superstitious thing among smokers in my high school. He thought the cigarettes were be laced with drugs, likely methamphetamine, or at least that’s what he told my school. So yeah… that went… well. [Pro Tip: If sent to counselling do NOT fuck with the counselor just for fun. You think you’re yanking their chain, which you are, but they take it seriously and God knows what they’ll think. These people usually aren’t very bright. Just tell them what they want to hear and get out of there.]

    Looking back I’m glad that this occurred nearly 20 years ago because those records are now gone. Today they’d be digitized and quite possibly follow me around for the rest of my life. All because I was smartass.

  13. The evil (D) (Olestra Symptom of the Universe) DON’T GIVE A FLYING F ABOUT PROTECTING YOU FROM PEOPLE WITH MENTAL ISSUES.

    THEIR FAVORED-SON HINKLEY JUST GOT TO GO HOME.

    THEY ARE MERELY LOOKING FOR WAYS TO GET YOU TO HANDCUFF YOUR WRIST TO YOUR ANKLE FOR THEM.

  14. John,
    The VA is not trying “to declare returning vets as incompetent”. I have written about that for TTAG in the past. The only time that occurs is when the vet himself has requested to be declared “incompetent” in order to gain a higher non-service connected veterans pension payment.

  15. Most of this chatter misses the point. In numerous high profile spree shootings, the killer was well known as a lunatic, one whom people were rightly and vocally afraid of. These people, these off the charts loonies, neee to be pulled from society.

    I’m all for due process. Let it play out. Put in additional safeguards. In the end, someone who’s street rat crazy and has expressed violent desires needs to be removed and plopped down in a padded room.

    I know, I know, “But what about 2A rights??? They’ll come after YOU next!” Haven’t you been paying attention? They’re already coming after my rights and yours. They’re using the psychos as an excuse.

    I’m not suggesting rounding up every last oddball out there or that people start filing restraining orders against their recalcitrant family membere. That’s your strawman, not mine.

    What I am saying is that if you know someone who’s losing it and is becoming a clear and present danger to himself or others, get on the phone and get them some help. You’ll be doing them, yourself and your community a favor. Or don’t. Just wait until they freak out, then we can all join in the handwringing as to what to do, while the antis pass laws doing exactly what they want to do.

  16. “The Charleston AME Church shooter had pending felony drug charges – preventing him from purchasing a gun. He received his gun via an illegal straw purchase made by his father.”

    That’s incorrect. He has a pending misdemeanor drug charge, which is not a disqualification. In consequence, he passed a background check and legally purchased a firearm through a firearm dealer after a delayed approval.

  17. Restrictions on “rights” are just the price of living in a free and just society. If a gun restriction saves only one life, it is a valid restriction. If you don’t believe that, ask someone who was shot if they think that if a gun was not involved, they would have been shot? Then ask if, as the gunshot victim, they would have been happy to have restrictions on gun ownership if that meant that gun would not have been present, and they (the victim) would not have been shot?

    If it saves only one life, we are morally obligated to act on the side of safety.

    Right?

    • What if those restrictions …. Cost a life ? …. as has happened to many forced to wait ( arbitrarily ) who are killed because they were unable to defend themselves.

      • The thinking is probably that such an incident would just be lodged in the “cost” column. If someone is injured or killed because of making life safer, THAT is the “cost of living in a free society”.

  18. I honestly don’t know about any of this. I have a 39 year old son who had a break(drug-influenced)from reality and walked in to a house and spent a year in jail-and became a felon. I know he isn’t dangerous. Another kid(who lives with me)functions very well but has great difficulties communicating and socializing. And he’s in college. Never diagnosed with autism/aspergers but “global delay”. And he’s the nicest,most generous,well behaved kid I have. I trust him but I’m not 100% sure on him being armed. I’d sure hate for the gubmint to label him when he should NOT be labeled…

  19. There is not now, and may never be, any objective method or procedure that proves beyond a doubt that anyone is “mentally ill”. Its is a fact that the majority of people declared “mentally ill”, according to the current system, NEVER harm anyone else including themselves. Those who do act-out violently are a very, very small percentage of the “declared mentally ill”, and are only declared violent “after the fact” {which is very unhelpful for preventive purposes}.

    I think an important aspect of the question about autism is that the condition is loosely and sloppily lumped into “mental disorders” by the News Media and public ignorance conflates it with “mental illness”. So, autism continues to be misrepresented and misunderstood and misclassified in common usage.

    People with “mental illness”, diagnosed under the current health care systems, should not be denied their right to keep and bear arms, unless there is some hard evidence demonstrating a tendency to violent behavior. Unfortunately, that might be after they have committed a very bad act, but, I think, that’s just how it has to be until there is some objective, indisputable method for diagnosing “mental illness” with a proclivity for violent behavior in individual persons. I am not even sure if the term “mental illness” is a legitimate concept, since it depends upon a subjective determination by another person.

    Also, this cr*p about the left-wingers claiming people who want to own guns are “mentally ill” has no basis in scientific fact and is just spurious fabrication. If they want to play that game, I am claiming anyone who wants to deny anyone else their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected rights (any right) is “mentally ill” and definitely a “danger to themselves and others” because they just want to have “control” other people. Makes as much sense as the libtards claim about gun owners, doesn’t it?

    Overall, the article is an interesting read, but it has some issues and some of the “facts” seem dated.

  20. “… the State of Illinois will not issue a concealed carry permit to anyone with a psychiatric unit admission in the last 4 years.” The collection of such data is greatly enhanced by the almost unlimited privacy waiver which was placed in Illinois state Rep. Brandon Phelps concealed carry bill. Here’s the original language from HB183 as passed in 2013:

    “a waiver of the applicant’s privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges under ALL federal and state laws, including those limiting access to juvenile court, criminal justice, psychological, or psychiatric records or records relating to any institutionalization of the applicant, and an affirmative request that a person having custody of any of these records provide it or information concerning it to the Department;”

    This is known in military and government circles as an open-ended privacy waiver. Meaning once you sign, the Illinois State Police can access and maintain your records forever. The waiver is in the statute, not the application. How many hicks actually read the statute? Send your concealed carry application to the IL State Police, get your Illinois carry license good for five years, move out of state, and the privacy waiver is still in effect.

    Since then the privacy waiver has been “tightened up” in the words of ISRA president Don Moran. Our hero and NRA funds recipient Brandon Phelps traded off gun seizure language to the IL State Police in the SB836 “improvement” to his original carry bill. There is still no time limit to the retention of medical records or anything else the IL State Police snoop into, plus the added bonus that they can share information with the feds on the Concealed Carry Licensing Review Board. There is no limit to the abuse which can be dished out to the hicks in Illinois who think Brandon Phelps is their hero.

  21. I’ve been practicing as a Clinical Psychologist for 53 years now. The whole notion of “mental illness” or “mental disorder” is bullshit!!! People indeed have “problems with living” and as a consequence they either scare the shit out of themselves or scare the shit out of their family or scare the shit out their neighbors or all of the former. When so scared, and lacking an explanation for why said family member is scaring the shit out of everybody, including him or herself, appeal is made to an expert (sic) to find out the cause. The medical model, having had some success in ameliorating the symptoms of physical illness, became and is now (amongst many practitioners) the explanatory framework with which to understand why the said family member is scaring the shit out of everybody. Medical professionals seized upon that notion quite early on as a way of protecting their practice turf. Thomas Szasz, MD played a pivotal role in my development as a Psychologist. http://www.szasz.com Check out his prolific writings, available on Amazon.

  22. Another gun owner with autism here. Firstly, autism is not a mental illness. If it were I would not qualify for a service dog. However, a lot of adults with autism have comorbid mental health troubles ( like me ). So I wouldn’t take too much umbrage with the author for his statement. I have spoken to some gun owners who think that there should be a blanket firearms ban on autistic adults. Usually this is before I tell them calmly that they are speaking to one. They usually look ashamed and at a loss for words because there I stand nonviolent and wrongly judged. I can’t speak for any man, nor do I have that right, but I can demonstrate that I am an honest, trustworthy, and peaceful person. As a citizen I would ask to be sentenced be my actions and not by the the blind opinions of others.

  23. Its pretty clear to me that creating a specific list of psychological conditions that are incomparable with firearms is both incomparable with the right to due process and for that reason is problematic at best. That said, we also need a mechanism to legally disbar someone from possessing arms and enforce this prohibition through technical, administrative and procedural controls. Instead of specific diagnosis, why not have a scientifically validated checklist of observable behaviors and fairly inexpensive tests that can be used to determine if someone is a danger to themselves or others.

    I have Learning Disabilities and that should not disbar me from owning a firearm. My sister has high functioning autism which should not disbar her from owning firearms. However she also has some significantly serious memory and executive function issues that she doesn’t realize that she has a lousy memory and can’t develop coping mechanisms for it. She tends to put things down and forget where she leaves them. This is a bit of a problem with having possession of any sort of item that needs to be safely stored.

  24. This whole discussion of mental illness is CRAZY! And I use that word intentionally. “Mental illness” and “mental condition” are mostly irrelevant, except for extreme disorders. How about (and you can test/prove these things):
    Do you know right from wrong?
    Do you have a reasonable ability to pay attention to details, rules and procedures?
    Do you know the laws related to firearms, self-defense and violent crime?
    Have you committed unjustified violent acts in the past?

    Those would be better gauges and they have little to do with mental health.

  25. A wise man once suggested “Support mental health or I’ll kill ya!”

    But honestly, most mentally ill people are not violent and in many cases, those who do commit violence who happen to be mentally ill did not do so because of their illness.

    But hey, mental illness and gun-control tags drive clicks, so there’s that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *