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“A recent Mayo Clinic study points out that mass shooters tend to meticulously plan their crimes weeks or months in advance, undermining the idea that the mentally ill simply “snap” and go on shooting rampages while also complicating the notion of effective gun control through gun registries, since a methodical planner has plenty of time to obtain weapons through illegal channels.” – Zach Weissmueller, The Truth About Mental Illness and Guns [at]

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  1. boy they are taking the idea of a person “snapping” quite literally aren’t they? it doesn’t have to mean that the person acts instantaneously.

    • “People who carry guns might just snap any second and shoot those around them” is a common theme heard from those who are against concealed carry. turns out people dont just snap instantaneously, but don’t expect them to recognize that and undermine their position. These people just put their fingers in their ears and yell NAH NAH MAH NAH even louder

      • Beat me to it. I expect the antis will come up with some halfazzed “study” that “proves” just the opposite. Paid for by Bloomie.

    • Well, yeah. What it means when you snap is that there is an immediate action. The common anti-gun meme is that if you allow people to have guns, when they snap they can just start shooting. And to a limited extent it’s true. But I strongly believe that anyone at risk for that behavior is going to show symptoms well in advance.

      All this latest study proved is that mental health care is clearly far more critical to stopping these events than any form of gun control, which has yet to prevent crime in any form.

  2. Of course; since this doesn’t fit the agenda of the statist gun-grabbers; this study will be ignored by most of the broadcast and print news; we’ll only see this on sites like this.

    • This. Despite the ‘bloody shirt waving,’ it isn’t the death of some children that underlies their agenda. They aren’t so passionately concerned about the routine weekly urban shootings. The agenda is motivated by fear of an unwilling and armed majority that does not want to be pushed into a paternalistic “we know best” state.

      I do wish every parent or sibling who knows they have a kid with seriously homicidal ideation would push them into help. However, when a Virginia legislator can’t even get an inpatient bed for a murderous/suicidal kid it’s difficult to imagine how a parent will cope with terrifying knowledge. I view Newtown this way, as a parent trying a bit too late and too openly to get their child into in-patient care, failing, but triggering the mad child’s response as he tries to beat the lockup moment.

  3. Uh-oh. Bostwick implies that the issue is complicated, and there may be *no solution* to mass shootings. That isn’t going to go down well with Americans. We remain committed to the idea that there’s *always a solution*, even when the solution is wrong…

    • “*always a solution*, even when the solution is wrong…”

      The grabbers bank on that premise. That’s why they go after what’s easiest, cheapest and most visible – more ‘laws’ to sanction and restrict law abiding citizens, rather than trying to address the long term and expensive mental health, behavior modification and morality issues that are at the root of the problem.

      Acknowledge the antis should that wherever humans are involved some vicious predators will always cause carnage. For that reason, and the other citizenship security issues that have been enumerated on this site, our position regarding gun ownership and carrying, as expressed by so many here, should be commonplace, widely accepted and practiced in our society, just as envisioned with the framers efforts to secure the prosperity and durability of this nation.

      • “… rather than trying to address the long term and expensive mental health, behavior modification and morality issues that are at the root of the problem.”

        Remember to add unhealthy and disintegrating families to your list as well.

    • There is a solution…with 2 parts. Both of which freak the antis out. Concealed/Constitutional carry, and armed teachers. The press is loathe to run the stories, but there have been more “mass shootings” prevented by armed citizens than true mass shootings. Oregon, San Antonio, Appalachian State, and many more that I can’t remember the specifics about.

      But I know I’m just preaching to the choir here….

      • This article supports the notion that the only truly effective means of defending against mass shooters is to allow as many law-abiding people as possible to be armed.

        • If you accept the premise that mass killings (why limit it to shootings?) can never be prevented entirely (a logical assumption) then the only rational response is armed citizens who can at the very least mitigate the event and reduce the numbers the murderer is able to kill. As a corollary, by adding the variable of an unknown number of armed opponents you will create an even more complex planning cycle which could be compromised and lead to arrest before the commission of the crime.

          This does not take into account the fact that the majority of these killings take place in gun free zones and the effect that eliminating such victim-rich environments might have on the issue.

  4. This is the kind of stuff that makes me want to “snap,” but who the hell would I take it out on? And I wouldn’t want to shoot anybody anyway. If I ever am attacked, I hope I retain the presence of mind to first shoot to disarm. And I hope I have time. But my first line of defense is to not go to stupid places where there are stupid people doing stupid things.

    • Legally, that could get you in worse trouble than killing an attacker. The prosecution’s argument will be you should have only shot in fear for your life. Since you only shot to disarm, you weren’t in fear for your life.

      That’s why there is a very carefully crafted response: I didn’t shoot to disarm, wound, or kill. I shot to end the threat.

      • OK, fair enough. And in a panic situation, I can see how aiming for center of mass would be more effective than playing Marshal Dillon.

    • Rich, a misplaced sense of concern over “the taking of a human life” is very likely to get you killed if you don’t grow out of it. If the event ever occurs for you your first realization MUST BE that this person had zero regard for taking YOUR human life, so why should you care about his?

      You are unlikely in a stress situation to have the presence of mind to be able to take an aimed shot at the attacker’s weapon or weapon arm, and hit it, than to hit the center of mass. IMO you should consider that a well-placed shot to center of mass is your best bet for dis-arming your attacker, cease firing when the threat has passed, and take consolation in the fact that statistically only 25-30% of pistol wounds that receive prompt treatment are fatal. It is better odds than your attacker was willing to give you.

      • Yeah, thanks. Another poster (I don’t recall who) said much the same thing, and I responded that I’m a lot more likely to get closer to CoM than get lucky playing Matt Dillon.

  5. These events are actually quite rare, yet there is this push to legislate away what is arguably a small insignificant statistic. Maybe if the media didn’t wave the bloody shirt for weeks afterwards people would have perspective.
    OTOH daily we have criminal acts by “troubled teens” which are not just ignored but if victims were armed these poor bored teens would think twice before making a move.

  6. Interesting that the article was published in the Mayo Clinic News on October 16, 2013 and only first here did it escape into TTAG’s site and to my reading. No note in the MSM.

    Bosters the old Winston Churchill saying,
    “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.”

    Now it seems like it is still looking for its keys.

  7. It is worth the 7min it takes to watch the video linked to this post.

    50% of police shootings involve the police killing someone with a treatable mental disorder.

    • Yes, an excellent, revealing video that highlights the fallacy of blanket assumptions, the need for thorough assessment and judicial or other impartial review before restricting ones gun rights, and the dangers of administrative incompetence that makes ‘control’ measures of any sort so troublesome and often unjust; particularly in view of gun ownership and possession being a Constitutionally protected right.

      This is particularly of concern in light of certain states (Kamala Harris, you listening?) haste and willingness to trample (where is your warrant?) and ignore the Constitutional protections of gun ownership and possession by its law abiding citizens.

  8. These doctors throw their hands up in the air and tell us it’s impossible to predict who might “snap”, as though it’s like finding a needle in a haystack. Well. How about we start with just finding the haystack in the haystack?

    Look at the most recent spree shooters. Not all were so obviously psycho dangerous, but many were, and not just in the 20/20 hindsight sort of way. Tuscon, Aurora, Virginia Tech, even Columbine. All of those guys were off the charts lunatics. Some had even been found thus by doctors. Some were banned from their schools. At least one had wound his way through the courts as a mental defective. Can we focus first on raging psychos? I expect some cases will fall through the cracks; but without any serious system in the first place, then it’s all cracks and all fall through.

    Yes, I know that these are rare events and that good old fashioned gang violence is the major source of criminal homicides. Still, these spree shootings are ultra high profile events and as such have an outsized influence on public policy, which can lead to unproductive or even counterproductive proposals. That alone is reason enough to score easy wins against these glaring defectives, so we remove the outliers from the equation . Then we can seriously and without undue distractions address the bulk of the problem.

    • “Yes, I know that these are rare events and that good old fashioned gang violence is the major source of criminal homicides. Still, these spree shootings are ultra high profile events and as such have an outsized influence on public policy, which can lead to unproductive or even counterproductive proposals.”

      I agree completely. And now you know why the civilian disarmament complex won’t actually do anything to actually stop violent mental cases before they strike … it would undermine their efforts.

    • “Some had even been found thus by doctors.” I think each of them had some type of mental health report to the “authorities” before they went off the deep end.

  9. This may sound counter intuitive but bear with me: if a mass murderer is going to strike, I want them to use a firearm. Why? Because once they start, an armed citizen or police officer has a chance to stop them before they create the huge number of casualties in their plan. The alternatives cannot be stopped midstream once the mass murderer puts them in motion.

    One alternative is a bomb. Once the mass murderer lights the fuse, there is no turning back and no way to reduce the number of casualties. Another alternative: lock the doors (with chains) of a crowded room and throw in a Molotov c0cktail made with a gallon of gasoline. Again, once the rag is lit and mass murderer throws it in the room, there is no turning back and no way to stop the carnage.

    In other words by the time good people realize what the mass murderer is doing with a bomb or Molotov c0cktail, it is too late to reduce the carnage. But when a mass murderer starts with a firearm, it is possible to intervene and stop them well before they are finished.

    We have to be honest and truthful. If a patient and determined criminal wants to kill someone, they are almost always going to succeed. Similarly, if a patient and determined mass murderer wants to kill 100 people and uses methods other than firearms, they will almost always succeed. But if a mass murderer uses a firearm, we have a chance to keep the body count low. We cannot keep the body count to zero, but we can keep it low.

    • Absolutely logical your thoughts are, but probably not a sellable concept in our current political setting.

      Additionally, I can already hear the outcry of grabbers and media anti gun protagonists; “Gun advocate suggests mass shootings are better than the alternatives.”

      Though logically accurate compared to the alternative examples you describe, we’re well aware how such a suggestion would play when presented out of context as you know it would be used. However, if multiple casualty bombings became as commonplace in our country as they are in parts of the Middle East…

  10. This truth has been borne out by virtually every major shooting. There was tons of planning involved. In Aurora, he bought his guns one at a time over a period of months, and ordered his ammo mail order over nearly a year. This was not a “sudden psychotic break.”

  11. How about the 500 lb. meth crazed gorilla in the room (thanks for the meme RF): Terrorism. Talk about meticulous. Talk about dedicated. Talk about imaginative. They must be “crazy” because we cannot imagine a sane person (ourselves a.k.a. projection) doing what (those we call) terrorists do. Evil is real and it ain’t mental illness.

    • Indeed. 9/11 took a considerable amount of planning, and resulted in many more deaths than any single mass shooter incident. Well, mass shooter incident not sponsored by the government.

  12. I read something recently where the blame was laid at the feet of the medication these people were on. And it wasn’t the usual trope that the medication made them crazy (which is what you usually hear), but that it allowed them to survive their suicidal impulses and, with a reduction in empathy, allowed them to go Full Retard and plan a mass murder.

    I guess that’s one way of looking at it. Drugs might help 99.99999% of the patients, but when 30,000,000 are on them, some nuts will slip through.

    • I think in a “kinder and gentler age” the local cops knew who wasn’t playing with a full deck either from firsthand observation or from neighborhood scuttlebutt, and would go out of their way to make sure they “played nice.” Now they almost never leave their vehicles to become a part of the world around them, and there’s a palpable “us vs THEM” atmosphere in a lot of their street dealings. Just an observation…

  13. Most of the recent spree killers practically screamed out their intentions. Holmes’ psychiatrist thought he was dangerous, but nobody acted. Laughner had been suspended from school because of his bizarre actions and rejected by the military due to drug abuse, but none of that was reported. Lanza was keeping Excel charts of shootings and body counts. His mother didn’t know, didn’t care to know or didn’t care.

    America doesn’t have a gun problem. It has a gang problem, a mental health problem and a Democrat problem. Pardon the repetition.

    • Don’t minimize the impact of the insane war on drugs, which as far as I know, is a brainchild of the “right” wing.

      • It took a whole lot of time on TTAG for me to agree with you. If Charlie Sheen can do it, why not everybody else? As long as they don’t operate heavy machinery (i.e. cars) under the influence, I don’t see much point in jail time for drugs.

        • That’s another thing that’s seriously misunderstood. Most potheads and druggies don’t even want to drive or operate heavy machinery. And those who do should simply be lumped with drunks. Notwithstanding “Dictate what people may or may not put into their own bodies” is NOT one of the enumerated powers. “Oh, but they commit crimes to support their habit!” is a strawman. There are already laws against armed robbery and such.

      • Lol, nice troll! Lest we forget that the war on drugs continues unabated though democratic regimes as well. Eight years under a pot smoking prez and the last five under a cocaine snorting one.

    • Lanza was keeping Excel charts of shootings and body counts.

      Hey, I do that too. I copied mine from Mother Jones.

    • As I recall, it was Ronald Reagan who closed the public mental health care facilities in California and put the crazies out in the street. I think a lot of other states followed suit because of the massive expense involved in keeping them open. Now it is nearly impossible to find an open bed. For example, my county in far northern California recently managed to re-open a small critical care facility–and it is the only facility in the nine northern counties. I have little doubt that this same scenario plays out all over the country, except in the urban centers. So all you Republicans who complain about government spending, be careful what you wish for.

  14. The real message of this study is that a mentally ill person intent on mass murder will use whatever he needs to accomplish his goal. Even if we effectively prevent him from obtaining firearms, he will substitute something else at least as deadly. The only thing that will work is treatment in a secure psychiatric hospital. They don’t get out as long as they remain dangerous.

  15. “The Truth About Mental Illness and Guns”…has a nice ring to it. Will there be a new site in the “Truth About…” family?

    • Nah. Let them carry. Just be sure there are well-armed citizens around who able and willing to deter him from USING his weapon irresponsibly or dangerously.

  16. It tells me that mental illness may not just occur all of a sudden but develop over a period of time allowing a level of premeditation not thought of before!

  17. “Mass shooters aim to tell a story through their actions. They create a narrative about how the world has forced them to act, and then must persuade themselves to believe it. The final step is crafting the story for others and telling it through spoken warnings beforehand, taunting words to victims or manifestos created for public airing.”

    How might journalists and police change their practices to discourage mass shootings? First, they need to do more to deprive the killer of an audience:

    Never publish a shooter’s propaganda. Aside from the act itself, there is no greater aim for the mass killer than to see his own grievances broadcast far and wide. Many shooters directly cite the words of prior killers as inspiration. In 2007, the forensic psychiatrist Michael Welner told “Good Morning America” that the Virginia Tech shooter’s self-photos and videotaped ramblings were a “PR tape” that was a “social catastrophe” for NBC News to have aired.

    Hide their names and faces. With the possible exception of an at-large shooter, concealing their identities will remove much of the motivation for infamy.

    Don’t report on biography or speculate on motive. While most shooters have had difficult life events, they were rarely severe, and perpetrators are adept at grossly magnifying injustices they have suffered. Even talking about motive may encourage the perception that these acts can be justified.

    Police and the media also can contain the contagion of mass shootings by withholding or embargoing details:

    Minimize specifics and gory details. Shooters are motivated by infamy for their actions as much as by infamy for themselves. Details of the event also help other troubled minds turn abstract frustrations into concrete fantasies. There should be no play-by-play and no descriptions of the shooter’s clothes, words, mannerisms or weaponry.

    No photos or videos of the event. Images, like the security camera photos of the armed Columbine shooters, can become iconic and even go viral. Just this year, the FBI foolishly released images of the Navy Yard shooter in action.

    Finally, journalists and public figures must remove the dark aura of mystery shrouding mass killings and create a new script about them.

    Talk about the victims but minimize images of grieving families. Reports should shift attention away from the shooters without magnifying the horrified reactions that perpetrators hope to achieve.

    Decrease the saturation. Return the smaller shootings to the realm of local coverage and decrease the amount of reporting on the rest. Unsettling as it sounds, treating these acts as more ordinary crimes could actually make them less ordinary.

    Tell a different story. There is a damping effect on suicide from reports about people who considered it but found help instead. Some enterprising reporters might find similar stories to tell about would-be mass shooters who reconsidered.

  18. A few comments about the video. first, the California 5150 currently results in a five year prohibition (after the first of the year it becomes ten). Second, I am not aware of any provision of the law that allows the seizure of guns from someone who lives with a prohibited person, at least as long as the firearms are secured. (I note that the husband in the video had a gun safe). Third, APPS is funded by OUR gun fees, and not by general fund taxes. Specifically, a purchaser pays a standard $25 DROS (dealer record of sale) fee that was supposed to fund the operation of California’s handgun registration system. However, when someone discovered that the DROS system–which was by statute to be break even only–was actually running a multi-million dollar surplus, our fine legislature passed a bill that diverted those excess funds to APPS raids. Fourth, gaps in the handgun registration system (and the absence of a system for long guns until after Jan 2014) makes it impossible for the DOJ to accurately determine who has what guns–meaning that, without more, they do not have probable cause for a search warrant to seize the guns of a prohibited person–voluntary compliance is required of the gun owner. Which of course the SWAT team that descends on your house is unlikely to tell you (as I assume is what happened to the couple in the clip. Nine armed men with automatic weapons surrounding your house is powerfully persuasive.) Fifth, a voluntary admit does NOT carry the gun prohibition, though why this is a logical exception I have no clue. Sixth, most persons with a mental illness that is “a danger to themselves or others” are suicidal–i.e., a threat to themselves but not others. And while it is true that 15000 or more such persons use firearms to end their lives every year, what business is that of the State? [Parenthetically, unlike other states, it is not a crime to attempt suicide in California.] Finally, there is no one “type” of mental illness that results in someone going over the edge and committing a mass killing. Loughner Holmes were certainly schizophrenic, but Lanza was not–he was autistic, and many autism sufferers become quite violent as the age. (I don’t know why, but it happens.) Most of the guys shooting up high schools are severely depressed and socially marginalized, but not schizophrenic–their motivations are different,. I bet if we eliminated from the mental health statistics all those who are suicidal but not violent towards others, the number of mentally ill who are a real threat is insignificantly small, with a disproportionate impact in the news. Our priorities are definitely skewed.

  19. The Phillips case is the prime reason California needs to get it’s ass sued off like Illinois.Kamalla Harris needs to go to jail for crimes against the United States Constitution ,the Bill of Rights And the 2nd Amendment.
    The State Of California Has broken every Constitutional Right of it’s citizens,The attorney General is guilty of high treason,as is the officials who vote in these Infringements of 2nd Amendment.
    So screw California,all the gang bangers love the place(all two million of them)
    I love Nevada ,I love the fact we can carry,conceal carry own any kind of weapon we want,and guess what? gangs? What’s that?Oh that’s right since we haven’t been stripped of our rights,those aholes stay in stupidville California since they know ,if they ply their wares over here,that would be fatal( for them)! I’m just sayin!

  20. So before some idiot liberal say; ” reason for gun crime in California is Nevada’s lax gun laws”‘Let’s get the facts strait; that Stupid argument( which is the same one New York uses against Virginia) is as lame as lame get’s.Nevada like Virginia,allows it’s citizens to exercise their Constitutional right without infringement and as such crime in Open/conceal carry states,is minimized .If Bloomberg and Feinstein would bother to check(instead of ignore/hide ) facts they would realize this and stop the blame game as that is their only excuse to explain their respective state’s; HIGHEST MURDER RATES in the W O R L D !

  21. “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” No and’s ifs or buts. Thus all of California’s “mentally ill” laws are strickttly and 100% unconstitutional. And anyone who says others wise including scous is either A: Illiterate or B: Flat out bold face lying.

  22. Wow. Lots of long replies here. I’m reading “The Gift of Fear” (halfway through), and author Gavin de Becker differs from most sociologists/psychologists in that he was raised in a violent home by his drug addled mother. Most psychologists could be bitch slapped by a ten year old.

    De Becker makes the point that violence is a behavioural tool like any other, and its use is not confined to the mentally ill. In fact its use usually indicates some form of personality disorder, not a mental illness. There are many solid signs leading up to any incidence of violence, and all that is lacking is the ability on the part of society/employer/partner/teacher to accept that yes, violence is possible, and yes, this individual is likely to escalate to use of violence. If you like, violence is a form of communication, usually the last word.

    Most of us have our heads in the sand, and contemplate the world thinking all others think the way we do. In fact, many have snakes writhing in their heads, and today may just be the day they decide hell must be unleashed. We all need to listen to our innate intuition which warns us of danger and does its best to protect our lives. Paying attention and not just to your cell phone, is vital to survival.

    The worst thing to do is to pass along a problem person to another department, another branch or another jurisdiction. When abberrant behaviour becomes known, it must be reported to a reliable authority, for urgent action. Too often these situations fester until the next contact is the last straw. Do you want that to be you? Your daughter?

    The move to push psychotic or unbalanced individuals out into the public arena has a fiscal motive. It is clear that more cost will be involved to ensure public safety. Our institutions have lost the ability to clearly see who might be dangerous.

    That leaves it up to Joe Public to ensure his own security, and that of his family. Pity that most no longer regard personal safety as a public duty, relying instead on a decaying infrastructure of police and health professionals who are unable to clearly see the causes of the mayhem we see on our daily news broadcasts.

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