TwitterFacebook

Gun Control: A Misguided Focus on Mental Illness

Don’t fall for the diversion
US News • Views: 24,230

The big push to divert the discussion of guns and gun control into a discussion about mental illness is really beginning in earnest tonight. And unfortunately, many liberals arguing for gun control are falling for the diversion, because yes, mental health care is terrible in America and it does need improvement — but they’re not seeing how the right wing (and watch, this will be a big NRA talking point in their “major press conference”) is using this issue to take the debate in a vague, pointless direction that will end up without touching anyone’s precious guns.

I’ve been watching this “mental illness” talking point gather strength on the right since Friday, and now it looks like the word has been put out to hammer it hard.

For one example out of many, at Breitbart “News:” PSYCHIATRIST: LANZA WAS ‘PSEUDOCOMMANDO’ WITH ‘WOUNDED NARCISSISM’.

The psychiatrist they’re all-caps yelling about is not Adam Lanza’s psychiatrist; it’s another CNN talking head who never met anyone involved in the case, but apparently still considers it ethical to diagnose them on air.

Here’s a good piece on the subject by Richard Friedman, M.D. at the New York Times, that makes the same point I made in this post few days ago: A Misguided Focus on Mental Illness in Gun Control Debate.

Perhaps more significant, we are not very good at predicting who is likely to be dangerous in the future. According to Dr. Michael Stone, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia and an expert on mass murderers, ‘Most of these killers are young men who are not floridly psychotic. They tend to be paranoid loners who hold a grudge and are full of rage.’

Even though we know from large-scale epidemiologic studies like the E.C.A. study that a young psychotic male who is intoxicated with alcohol and has a history of involuntary commitment is at a high risk of violence, most individuals who fit this profile are harmless.

Jeffery Swanson, a professor of psychiatry at Duke University and a leading expert in the epidemiology of violence, said in an e-mail, ‘Can we reliably predict violence? ‘No’ is the short answer. Psychiatrists, using clinical judgment, are not much better than chance at predicting which individual patients will do something violent and which will not.’

It would be even harder to predict a mass shooting, Dr. Swanson said, ‘You can profile the perpetrators after the fact and you’ll get a description of troubled young men, which also matches the description of thousands of other troubled young men who would never do something like this.’

Even if clinicians could predict violence perfectly, keeping guns from people with mental illness is easier said than done. Nearly five years after Congress enacted the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, only about half of the states have submitted more than a tiny proportion of their mental health records.

How effective are laws that prohibit people with mental illness from obtaining guns? According to Dr. Swanson’s recent research, these measures may prevent some violent crime. But, he added, ‘there are a lot of people who are undeterred by these laws.’

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying; yes, mental health care in the United States needs to be improved. But the right wing is using this almost totally unrelated issue as a diversionary tactic to stop us from addressing the ongoing epidemic of gun crime. Dr. Friedman’s article concludes:

All the focus on the small number of people with mental illness who are violent serves to make us feel safer by displacing and limiting the threat of violence to a small, well-defined group. But the sad and frightening truth is that the vast majority of homicides are carried out by outwardly normal people in the grip of all too ordinary human aggression to whom we provide nearly unfettered access to deadly force.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
For about 33 cents a day (per month) or 22 cents a day (per year), our subscription option turns off all advertisements at LGF!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.

Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.

Last updated: 2014-03-07 2:19 pm PST

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
Randall Gross
Kansas City, Kansas, Abortion Clinic Closes
One of four remaining clinics in Kansas that provide abortions has closed because its doctor and manager have retired. The Aid For Women clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, closed Saturday and is referring patients to three other clinics in ...

8 hours, 1 minute ago
Views: 182 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 7 • Rating: 1
Skip Intro
Outside Money Drives a Deluge of Political Ads
WASHINGTON -- An explosion of spending on political advertising on television -- set to break $2 billion in congressional races, with overall spots up nearly 70 percent since the 2010 midterm election -- is accelerating the rise of moneyed ...

8 hours, 7 minutes ago
Views: 136 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 2 • Rating: 2
Rightwingconspirator
Washington, D.C., Handgun Carry Ban Is Ruled Unconstitutional
I agree. Bans are not an option. Jurisdictions like DC will just have to deal with the fact that regulation is the path. Bans don't work. Bans are illegal and unwise. It's simple. we as a society have chosen to ...

1 day, 3 hours ago
Views: 363 • Comments: 57
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 5
Romantic Heretic
Preventing Poverty Not Allowed As A Goal for Charity
The Canada Revenue Agency (Canada's equivalent of the IRS) has told OXFAM Canada that it cannot list 'preventing poverty' as a goal, only 'alleviating' it. The reason is "Relieving poverty is charitable, but preventing it is not." This is just ...

3 days, 5 hours ago
Views: 371 • Comments: 11
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
FemNaziBitch
Safer Era Tests Wisdom of ‘Broken Windows’ Focus on Minor Crime
While the apparent chokehold fueled much of the initial public outcry, community leaders have begun asking whether focusing police officers so intently on such petty offenses makes sense in a city that is far different and far safer than ...

3 days, 12 hours ago
Views: 289 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Mentis Fugit
Frisson
Over at the quirky Riddled blog, I encountered this music video link. I have the album, but I had last listened long ago, and I had forgotten the lyrics. The lengthy, moody intro slowly drew me back thirty five years, ...

5 days, 21 hours ago
Views: 230 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
BadExampleMan
The painful futility of war
This makes me furious. These men pledged their loyalty to their country and their country betrayed them. It treated them as disposable, throwing their lives away in a war that was premised on lies, that was chosen gleefully, and that ...

1 week ago
Views: 410 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 1
MichaelJ
Mick Fanning Wins J-Bay Open 2014
More: MICK FANNING WINS J-BAY OPEN Finals day for the contest was run in perfect Supertubes conditions. Too bad Kelly Slater and Jordy Smith were eliminated in lesser quality surf - it would have been amazing to have both of ...

1 week ago
Views: 323 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
Thrazidun
Paris: Jews Fight Back Against Islamist Mob - Jewish World - News - Arutz Sheva
More: Paris: Jews Fight Back Against Islamist Mob - Jewish World - News - Arutz Sheva

1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 956 • Comments: 5
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
GlutenFreeJesus
Gotta love Chicago
Admittedly, I only started following these guys in the past year or two. They have been in the Chicago scene for awhile. And I kick myself after every show for not following them sooner. For any fans of Led Zeppelin, ...

1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 454 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
 Frank says:

THE VERY BIG STUPID is a thing which breeds by eating The Future. Have you seen it? It sometimes disguises itself as a good-looking quarterly bottom line, derived by closing the R&D Department. -- from The Real Frank Zappa book.