TwitterFacebook

Gun Control: A Misguided Focus on Mental Illness

Don’t fall for the diversion
US News • Views: 24,705

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!
Take advantage of our yearly subscription, and save 50% off the normal subscription price! One-year ad-free subscriptions are just $59.95. Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing now and save!
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: 2015-06-25 5:21 pm PDT

LGF User's Guide RSS Feeds
Recent Pages
thecommodore
Ever Wonder What Would Happen if a Conservative Interviewed Lena Dunham? Try Misogyny.
The Media Research Center's Dan Joseph "goes where no conservative man has ever gone before," (in the words of Chicks On The Right), in this fake interview, and what follows should not surprise any sane person at all. Joseph: I'm ...

1 hour, 2 minutes ago
Views: 43 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 0
Cheechako
Test Pilot Admits the F-35 Can’t Dogfight
War Is Boringby DAVID AXE A test pilot has some very, very bad news about the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The pricey new stealth jet can't turn or climb fast enough to hit an enemy plane during a dogfight ...

1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 335 • Comments: 5
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Thanos
Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Texas Abortion Law
The Supreme Court on Monday put a temporary hold on a Texas law that abortion rights groups say would have led to the closures of all but a handful of the state's abortion clinics. The law, which was to ...

1 day, 19 hours ago
Views: 145 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Rocky-in-Connecticut
NBC Hands an Asshat his Ass
money.cnn.com Business is business. And business is pretty sweet these days when blowhard Know-nothings like Trump get what's coming.

2 days ago
Views: 256 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
PhillyPretzel
Patrick Macnee dies
I was looking at Philly com this morning and I saw this article. I was one of those who watched some episodes of this old series and liked it. Please read this article on Patrick Macnee from their website: philly.com ...

3 days, 3 hours ago
Views: 257 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
FemNaziBitch
Many See a Victory for Children, Too - Video
Thousands, including parents, babies and dogs, flocked to the Supreme Court after its ruling on same-sex marriage. Supporters spoke about how they thought the ruling helped maintain and support families. More: Many See a Victory for Children, Too - ...

3 days, 10 hours ago
Views: 234 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Lumberhead
‘It’s Time for Good Cops to Do Something About Bad Cops’
Today's relationship between the Baltimore police department and the city's black residents was determined by neither Obama Administration statements nor New York Times editorials nor liberal hashtag activists. Rather, it was determined by years of interactions between residents of ...

3 days, 19 hours ago
Views: 713 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 36 • Rating: 1
SteveMcGaziBolaGate
Schoolchildren Build a Better Condom
From philly.com "A group of schoolchildren from Essex, England, have invented a condom that detects sexually transmitted infections such as chlamydia and syphilis."The condom would change color to warn the couple if a strain of bacteria is present." That's the ...

6 days, 23 hours ago
Views: 369 • Comments: 3
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
aagcobb
A New Study Gives Us Another Reason to Celebrate Working Mothers - Vox
Matthew Yglesias, Vox: A New Study Gives Us Another Reason to Celebrate Working Mothers - Vox The researchers find statistically significant differences in outcomes for both boys and girls, though the outcomes are different. Daughters of working moms grow up ...

1 week ago
Views: 267 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Great White Snark
Hypocritical Taylor Swift Photo Contract: Break Our Rules, and We Can Break Your Gear
Pop star power play. Yesterday, photographer Jason Sheldon published an open letter to Taylor Swift, accusing the singer of being a hypocrite by accusing Apple of treating artists unfairly while herself handing out heavy-handed contracts for concert photographers to sign. ...

1 week, 1 day ago
Views: 644 • Comments: 7
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
 Frank says:

Help! I'm a rock!