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When I read the October 27 Quote of the Day my first thought was “physician heal thyself” (right after “somebody call the guys in the white coats!”). Anyone who can equate the ownership of semi-automatic weapons with the abuse of children is obviously teetering on the edge. Little did I know just how out there the good doctor really is, though. The quote came from Ronald Pies’s, Why Psychiatrists Must Confront Gun-related Violence. And as I started reading the whole thing, it became obvious that Dr. Ron may have suffered what those in the head shrinking biz call a break with reality . . .

During my recent stay in Scotland, I had a most peculiar experience while walking through the streets of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling, late at night: I felt safe. This is a sensation I almost never have while walking in American cities of comparable size.

It’s nice to know that you felt safe, Ron, but the fact of the matter is that (apart from homicide) the violent crime rate in Scotland is almost eleven times that of the U.S. According to the Scots’ own government website, there were “[a]pproximately 220,000 violent crimes of assault or robbery” committed in Scotland in 2011. So given that the population of Scotland is about 5.2 million, that gives us a violent crime rate of 4230.8/100K. Then we look to the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and find that in 2011 the US’ violent crime rate was 386.3/100K.

And this isn’t exactly a new phenomenon either. As pointed out in a 2000 article by Paul Gallant, Joanne Eisen and Dave Kopel,

To the great consternation of British authorities concerned about tourism revenue, a June [2000] CBS News report proclaimed Great Britain “one of the most violent urban societies in the Western world.” Declared Dan Rather: “This summer, thousands of Americans will travel to Britain expecting a civilized island free from crime and ugliness…[But now] the U.K. has a crime problem….worse than ours.”

As the 12-steppers say, denial ain’t just a river in Egypt. But then Ron explains how his freedom from fear came to pass:

As my wife and I learned during our stay there, Scotland has a violent and bloody history, going back many centuries. And, to be sure, modern-day Scots—a remarkably friendly and civil people—must deal with crime, drugs, and violence, just as Americans do. But they do not worry much about gun-related violence.

And there you have it; a tenfold increase in his chance of being robbed, raped and beaten is just fine as long as there aren’t any of those horrible, nasty, evil guns involved. I know man is a rationalizing animal, but how in the name of all that is holy can you rationalize that?

At least the good doctor admits that headline grabbing mass shootings aren’t really an issue:

Why should psychiatrists care about firearms regulation? The reason that might first come to mind—the putative role of mental illness in several recent mass shootings—is actually the least important. (As I write, reports of a new mass shooting in Wisconsin are trickling in). Aurora, Colorado-type mass shootings—horrific though they are—actually amount to a minuscule percentage of gun-related deaths in the US. There are more compelling reasons why psychiatrists should be involved in the gun control debate.

Thanks for that tidbit of honesty before drifting back off into la-la land.

First, psychiatrists are experts in assessing risk factors for suicide, and gun possession is a major risk factor for completed suicide.

No. No it isn’t. The fact that people who are contemplating suicide often obtain firearms in order to carry out their plans is completely divorced from the root causes of suicide; primarily untreated depression. And as I have mentioned before and no doubt will again, while restricting “access” to firearms may reduce firearm suicide rates, study after study has shown that it does not affect overall suicide rates. Ron even goes on to prove my point.

One study of handgun possession in California found that,  in the first week after the purchase of a handgun, the rate of firearms suicide among purchasers is about 57 times as high as the adjusted rate in the general population.

I’ll give you a hint, Ron; the evil Dark Jedi mind-control power of the firearm had nothing to do with those suicide numbers. Once someone has makes up their mind to commit suicide, they’re gonna find a way to do it unless they get help.

The US has a firearm- suicide rate almost 6 times higher than comparison countries.

And the point is…what exactly? Japan (which has insanely restrictive gun laws) has an overall suicide rate that’s almost four times our firearm suicide rate. Or our non-firearm suicide rate for that matter. According to Wikipedia, Lithuania, South Korea, Guyana, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Hungary, Sri Lanka, Russia, Ukraine, Serbia and Montenegro, Estonia, Belgium, Latvia, Moldova, Slovenia, Finland, Uruguay, South Africa, Poland, France, Croatia, Hong Kong, Suriname, New Zealand, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, Cuba, Bulgaria and Romania all have higher suicide rates than the US. And most have much stricter gun laws and less access to firearms than we do.

Ron restates his, um, argument against guns all kinds of ways, no doubt hoping we won’t notice that:

1) Correlation does not equal causation

B} Guns, no matter how scary looking, can’t make a healthy person commit suicide, and

III] Overall suicide rates are independent of means and method.

But then it’s time to riff on “dangerousness” and how easy access to guns in this country has led to higher homicide rates than any other “high-income” countries without ever addressing why the U.S. has significantly higher non-firearm related homicide rates. In other words even if you remove gun homicides from the statistics we still have a significantly higher homicide rate than these other countries which indicates that socio-economic and cultural factors are driving homicide rates in this country, not “easy access” to guns.

But then the Doc goes for a bridge too far. He finishes with the snide, “after all, when was the last time you heard of a mass knifing?” Well Ron, August 2, 2012 leaps to mind: Chinese teenager kills 8, injures 5 in knife attack. In fact (again according to Wikipedia) there have been a number of knife/cleaver/club attacks in schools in China in the last couple of years. Then there was the Osaka (Japan) school massacre which killed eight children and wounded 15 others in 2001, or the Akihabara massacre where, using a truck and a knife, a nut-job killed 7 and injured 8 people in a shopping arcade. Or the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market incident where (albeit accidentally) 10 people were killed and 63 injured by an out of control driver.

Again, though, since there were no scary guns involved such occurrences apparently pass beneath the notice of Dr. Ron. Oh, he also has some trenchant insights into the relationship of gun ownership, firearms laws, and violent crime in the US:

Of course, proving causal connections (vs mere associations) between gun regulations and violent crime rates is exceedingly difficult, given the multitude of confounding variables. Yet one myth that continues to be proffered by those who oppose any regulation of firearms is that gun ownership decreases crime rates and “keeps people safe.” In truth, there is little credible evidence to support these claims, and considerable evidence against them.

Apparently “little credible evidence” is hoplophobic shrink-speak for “reams of data collected by Drs. Lott and Mustard correlating over a dozen factors showing more guns lead to less crime, which has been substantiated in 18 peer-reviewed studies” while “considerable evidence” is a single peer-reviewed study coming from a pair of notoriously anti-gun researchers.

Of course, laws have other purposes, beyond the expectation that they will actually reduce or prevent a specific injurious or antisocial act. Laws also represent society’s moral values, and our intention to set limits on certain types of behavior. Laws may also reflect society’s wish to reduce the likelihood of certain types of injurious behavior, even while realizing that this wish may not be fulfilled. There are, of course, always people with evil intentions who will ignore the law–but that is no reason to omit or expunge the law.

It may come as a surprise to some of my regular readers, but I am actually in favor of laws which punish injurious behavior, as long as the injury is to another (injure yourself all you want). Where I draw the line is when laws are passed in an attempt to prevent bad behavior. These mala prohibita laws, (Latin for “bad because I say so”) as opposed to mala in se (“bad in and of itself”) And just because a law represents society’s moral values doesn’t make it a good one (look up anti-miscegenation laws sometime).

The point of mala prohibita laws is not to punish bad behavior but to try and prevent it which is why what Dr. Ron says next is really kooky:

Similarly, even if we could not demonstrate that laws banning production and private ownership of rapid-fire, semi-automatic weapons actually reduced mass shootings, a civilized society would still have sound ethical reasons for retaining these laws. That is, these laws legitimately reflect society’s value judgment that no good will come from the possession of such destructive weapons by private citizens–and that much harm may ensue.

Setting aside the fact that the freedom to own and carry the weapon of your choice is a natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right, what Pies is saying is that even with proof that these laws are useless (like statistics showing that in 2010 twice as many people were beaten to death with fists than were killed with any sort of rifle — “assault” or not) it’s still good to have them because it makes people feel good.

So in Dr. Pies’ orange-skied world, rights don’t matter, facts are inconsequential and reality is a trifle — as long as people feel good about their laws. And they call us nuts.

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  1. Thanks, Bruce, for reporting on the whole article. The source website requires membership to read. My observations:

    1. Shall we have laws to ban Prozac, Adderall, and other psychoactive drugs? We have only the vaguest notion of what they actually do in the brain.

    2. But as you point out, this fellow has no interest in rights or liberties. He, like many in his profession, have no problem deciding for others what “normal” and “healthy” mean. He is the subtlest form of control freak, the kind with supposedly scientific evidence (and a manaical smile) to back up his program of moral improvement for all of us. To doubt his claims is to prove oneself to be insane.

    Molon labe, Doctor. I say that with regard to all of my rights.

    • The author of the quoted article summed up everything in this one chilling sentence, “Laws also represent society’s moral values, and our intention to set limits on certain types of behavior.”

      The doctor’s statement goes too far because society has no legitimate power to limit behavior that does not harm anyone. Nor does society have any legitimate power to say what object a citizen may own.

      Think of the parallels. Society has no legitimate power to limit what topics to which a citizen may think or speak. Just as there can be no thought or speech police, there can be no moral value or property police.

      • So are you saying that laws which outlaw prostitution, pornography, drinking, nudity, sodomy, etc. are all illegitimate, although such laws have been enacted and enforced by numerous human societies all through history? Much of law is based on a given society’s moral code, and as morals change, so do the laws. Yet no one has successfully avoided prosecution on the basis that such laws are illegitimate.

        • There are two compelling reasons why government should not make morality laws. First, it is next to impossible to define how certain behaviors harm a person or society. Second, the fuzzy nature of morality laws opens the door for governments to infringe liberty and rights such as we see with free speech and our right to keep and bear arms.

          Don’t get me wrong. Personally, I staunchly oppose various behaviors such as prostitution, pornography, and public nudity. However, laws are ineffective at stopping such activities with the possible exception of public nudity — which I will argue is immediately and directly harmful to children at the least. It isn’t government’s role to stop such activities. It is up to families, churches, and family advocacy groups to lobby the public via free speech.

    • Yeah, I also tried to read the article, without success, since the first article gave but such a little taste. His closing argument seems to me to be little more than society can outlaw anything it considers evil, whether or not there is any logic or evidence to support the superstition. The sad thing is that society has always done so, and will, if we are at all predictable, sontinue to do so in the future.

    • Oops; sorry about that guys I meant to tell everyone that they can access the article with my e-mail addy ( and the password TTAG1234 (case sensitive).

  2. I worked in Brussels for a couple of years. Like the good Doctor in Scotland, thousands of Americans went to Belgium and felt safe, right up until they were mugged or pickpocketed. What I came to realize is people suspend their normal survival instinct as they go on vacation, literally their sense of awareness goes on vacation too. They are in a strange or different environment and in tourist areas were a lot of cities or countries have “tourist police”. These police usually have English speaking skills and tend to saturate the high traffic areas with foot patrols. So the safe feeling you get wandering around those area stays with you, until you take a shortcut through an alley, wander out of those tourist zones or take a wrong turn in a metro system.

    If you want proof of just how unsafe it is in big European cities, check out the line in front of the US Embassies and Consulates on each and every Monday morning. They are there to get their passports replaced after having them stolen from their purses or wallets.

  3. So, when the good doctor is mugged at gunpoint, it will be the fault of the gun. You see, if guns were not available, that person would not have been led astray to commit his crimes.

    So, once again, guns are EEEEEEVIL !!!!! Protect yourself from being influenced by the demon spawn Colts and Glocks.

    Call an Exorcist (ME). I will gladly remove the EEEEVIL guns from your possession at no charge!!!! Thus allowing you to become a good person, like our Doctor friend.

  4. Bruce, thank you. It’s always a rewarding learning experience reading your posts. The “doctor in denial” needs to hire you to help him recognize his issues.

      • Ha! Good one. It is strange how many people who obsess over something to ban others from experiencing it actually have a secret fetish for it. IMHO, I think the doctor might be in denial of a secret unconscious desire he has to own many fully automatic guns, to go hunting and kill innocent bambis, and maybe to do even more, just saying.

        • Look up the definition of sexual fetishsim and the good doctor is indeed suffering from said mental infirmity.

  5. “So in Dr. Pies’ orange-skied world, rights don’t matter, facts are inconsequential and reality is a trifle — as long as people feel good about their laws. And they call us nuts.”

    You stole my comment Bruce.

    “Of course, laws have other purposes, beyond the expectation that they will actually reduce or prevent a specific injurious or antisocial act.”

    1) No, you DUMB !@*%, they don’t have other purposes. That’s what they do. Stop bad sh!t from happening by punishing those who do them.

    “Laws also represent society’s moral values, and our intention to set limits on certain types of behavior.”

    2) What happened to the left wing talking point about not legislating morality in regards to abortion or gay marriage?

    3) So, guns (inanimate objects) are bad, but it’s behavior you want to control?

    “Laws may also reflect society’s wish to reduce the likelihood of certain types of injurious behavior, even while realizing that this wish may not be fulfilled.”

    4) …….So… You would knowingly vote for a law that would restrict your freedom and that of your countrymen, but wouldn’t have any redeeming qualities of any kind, not only a net negative, but no positives of any kind? WTF is wrong with you?

    “There are, of course, always people with evil intentions who will ignore the law–but that is no reason to omit or expunge the law.”

    5) Yes. It. Is.

    6) You just admitted that every law ever written in an attempt to control the behavior of those who don’t follow laws has been a complete and total failure, that they’ve done nothing but waste money, lives, and time. But that’s not a reason to omit or expunge them?

    Seriously, that last paragraph has always been my ultimate argument against gun control, war on drugs, asinine speed limits, and mala prohibita laws in general. They’re all, ultimately, useless because they’re all net negatives. They do more harm than good. None of them achieve what they, allegedly, set out to do and instead waste money, lives, and time.

    I’ve always thought of that as a kind of end-all be-all argument. How can you defend something with no redeemable qualities of any kind? Well, Ronald Pies has figured it out. He took every argument I had and invalidated it by saying “It makes me feel good.”

    I’m sorry Ron but, your desire to live atop your imaginary moral high ground does not trump my fvcking liberty.

    • The argument that a law might be “theoretically useful” because it could potentially prevent harm has been forwarded by academics for some time. Theoretically usefulness falls short of practical usefulness. The reality is that something is useful only of it works nearly 100% of the time – whether it is a car, cell phone, computer, or firearm.

      The argument really falls apart (as if it had not already done so of its own self inflicted accord) when a law benefits a criminal element and harms the non criminal element. That is one of the most damning characteristics of gun control laws. The law in an of itself does not prevent criminal behavior. So what benefit is a law that prevents a law abiding 5′ tall 105 pound nurse in Chicago from owning a firearm, when her assailant planning a crime will likely be armed? Where is the theoretical benefit of such a law?

    • gay marriage isn’t, or at least it shouldn’t be, a moral thing. Two people love each other, they should be able to marry, get divorced, have kids, and get the benefits that come from each of them. It”s the same as states not allowing interracial couples. Abortion OTOH is such a ethical quagmire that I’m not even getting involved in it right now.

      • Maybe its just me, but when rights are concerned, be it guns, marriage, abortion, drugs, etc I dont think the government has any place in telling the people what they can and cannot do. Period.

        If your actions are not impacting anyone but yourself, then by all means, do what you want. The minute you impact another person is when the government should take action, and not a second before.

        • Agreed. If you are not hurting anyone, damaging/stealing anyone’s property, or otherwise infringing on anyone’s rights, then you aren’t committing a crime.

  6. I would like to see data (if it exists) on the prevalence of psychological disorders within these mental health “experts”. I’ve only met about 6 of them (no not as a patient) and every one of them is what I call loony. Maybe it’s because I work in NYC. They seem worse than the average person you come across.

    Feeling safe in Scotland? False security because almost everyone there is white. Scotland has a very strong socialist mentality. Maybe that’s tied to their split from English rule. Socialism isn’t freedom. Getting tanked on scotch and sticking your head in the sand isn’t safety.

    • “Getting tanked on scotch and sticking your head in the sand isn’t safety.”

      But it makes me feel good lol. So by his logic, that should be law.

    • San Francisco and Berkeley California are filled with messed-up therapists. In Berkeley, when walking down the streets, you can trip over the numbers of either spaced-out or crazed homeless people and therapists. It would be interesting to see data on the number and types of disorders within the mental health field. It isn’t information they would want getting out to the public.

  7. “Yet one myth that continues to be proffered by those who oppose any regulation of firearms is that gun ownership decreases crime rates and “keeps people safe.” In truth, there is little credible evidence to support these claims, and considerable evidence against them.”

    Hey Dr. Shithead, please explain to me the crime/homicide rate in that utopia of Chicago (a GUN FREE land). Most Psychiatrists are just as whacked as most of their patients from my experience.

  8. My tangential experience with 15 psychiatrists and wives, a charter trip in the Grand Canyon many years ago, left me with a lasting impression they were the most physically inept and unsafe people I had ever encountered. Please excuse my generalization but that’s the last profession I would consult regarding personal safety. I’ll leave my impressions (after camping with them for several days) of their mental stability to your imagination.

    • The very fact that these socially backward elites have the power to tell you what to do, declare you sane or otherwise by the mere qualification of being educated by another group do socially backward elites scares the ever living sh1t out of me.

    • “Many doctors are drawn to this profession (psychology) because they have an innate deficiency of insight into the motives, feelings and thoughts of others, a deficiency they hope to remedy by ingesting masses of data.”
      ― William S. Burroughs

  9. Here, let me educate everyone and spread the joy of being an expert about risks of attempting suicide. The single biggest indicator of the chances is if they’ve made a previous attempt. Congratulations. You’ve got the biggest clue to look for. Same with predicting violence: whether they’ve beaten the crap out of someone before is the biggest predictor of violence in the future.

    Redistributing the expertise, oh yeah~

    Good psychiatrists who acknowledge and work within the limits of their professions are far too uncommon, sadly, but they do exist, and they are incredibly helpful.

    • Well said on both points. (And yes I’ve met a few great psychiatrists that have actually managed to earn my respect and praise, but they are the minority.)

      The stated fear of the reflexive grabbers is that one spree killer or suicide with no prior history (so obviously we just need to disarm everybody). My professional experience reveals something much scarier: a past history that isn’t properly addressed by an inept, over-stressed and/or apathetic mental health system.

    • Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely. It was true about Renaissance popes, and it remains true about any group that regulates its own ability to mess with our lives.

  10. I never understood the attitudes of people like him or other supposed “educated elites”. So you went to school for a decade, passed a bunch of tests, and wrote some long papers with an internship here and there to spice things up. Big fvcking deal. Where in your university diploma or job description does it say you can forcibly control the lives of others and play God?

  11. But these are the people that want to be able sign off on whether we are stable enough to be able to carry a weapon for self- defense.

    But to them, simply wanting a weapon for self-defense is evidence that we aren’t rational or stable enough to be trusted with such a deadly tool.

    See, problem solved, no one can be trusted with this responsibility, except, of course, the designated agents of the state, the police, the feds and the military.

    It’s like in the Soviet Union; if you didn’t support the communist system, it was obvious you were mentally ill and you would be put in a mental hospital or the gulag.

    Statists! All they really want is control, it’s what Mao said, the “visionary” so many of these disturbed people worship, “power comes from the barrel of a gun”.

    • “But to them, simply wanting a weapon for self-defense is evidence that we aren’t rational or stable enough to be trusted with such a deadly tool.”

      There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he were sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.

      • This paragraph comes to mind repeatedly. I think I’ll memorize it and cite it verbatim every time I encounter knucklehead logic.

  12. The issue with a grabber like this is they’re just afraid of guns, and more so: afraid of people. It should be funny that a professional who has apparently devoted his life to caring for people with mental health issues seems to be so afraid of them. Or maybe it’s just the filter of his professional experience: you see enough bad stuff, you start seeing potential bad stuff everywhere. This filter then distorts your perception, so you can simply interpret reality in whatever way fits your fears: All humans are scary and just so many seconds away from murder or suicide. (Actually, in his case, it seems all Americans are scary.) So you can’t trust them with any freedoms.

    The hoplophobes I know tend to look at me like I collect rabid honey badgers or keep a house full of loose rattlesnakes–the very presence of the evil things means horrible violent death will follow, and I must be nuts (dangerously so). Suggesting they try handling one is like trying to get an arachnophobe to touch a spider. (Which one of us is irrational?)

    If we had lots of time on our hands, I suppose we could have fun with the statistics ourselves. I bet in “civilized” countries, a lot of violent criminals wear shoes during their crimes. (Or perhaps it’s underwear. That might explain the “pants-on-the-ground” trend among bangers.) We should require background checks. Limit purchases. Or simply ban entirely in certain areas. (Someone should call Bloomberg.)

    If I wanted to get into offensive territory, I could go for the poverty equals crime stats: We should simply arrest everyone below a certain income level now, before they kill again. (Actually, I think Bloomberg and his like could get behind that one.)

    And I know I’m damning myself by association, but I have to admit (after 25 years in the business): There’s a reason people are drawn to the mental health field. Too often (though not always) it’s an indirect way to deal with their own issues, and that gets dangerous.

  13. Bruce you should write a book about how dumb the gun control argument is. I for one would buy it. Probably multiple copies for friends/family that are antis.

  14. Doc needs a Lobotomy. America dont have a gun problem, its got a gang problem. Crips/Bloods……peace out beeoochez.

  15. He wouldn’t know the difference between correlation and causation because he’s a psychiatrist — correlation is all they have. Psychiatrists make English majors look like scientists.

    That said, the Good Doctor was right when he said gun possession is a major risk factor for *completed* suicide. Not attempted, but completed. Guns may not cause a desire to attempt suicide, but they are very effective tools for the task, making completion of the goal much more likely.

    • Gravity, ropes, carbon monoxide, and drugs in excessive quantities are also major risk factors for completed suicides. They are very effective tools for the task as well, making completion of the goal much more likely.

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