TwitterFacebook

Gun Control: A Misguided Focus on Mental Illness

Don’t fall for the diversion
US News • Views: 24,053

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.

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

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
team_fukit
Another Daily Toddy
Because in wingnut world, desiring a more diverse university student body = "ethnic cleansing" Fox News commentator Todd Starnes is outraged by the president of Western Washington University's deliberately provocative comment, which he has made at each of the school's past six opening convocations, that "if we are as white in ten years as we are today, Western will have failed as a university." ...

48 minutes ago
Views: 22 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Randall Gross
FDNY Commissioner Salvatore Cassano’s Racist Son Quietly Applies for His Old EMT Job
Cassano's reinstatement attempt comes just a little over a year after his embarrassed father issued a statement saying he was "extremely disappointed in the comments posted online by my son." Among his son's galling tweets, were, "I like jews about as much as hitler #toofar? NOPE." On Martin Luther King Day last year, he tweeted, "MLK could go kick rocks for all I ...

4 hours, 6 minutes ago
Views: 75 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
palmerskiss
More Than Half the Women in These Countries Are Married by the Time They Turn 18
The report is as sad as it is horrifying. A child bride forced into marriage in Nigeria has been accused of killing her much older groom and three of his friends by poisoning their meals with rat poison. The 14-year-old girl, Wasila Umaru, was married to the 35-year-old man last week. Although she told authorities she was forced into the betrothal, Wasila will ...

8 hours, 38 minutes ago
Views: 93 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
FemNaziBitch
Criminalizing Expectant Mothers - NYT
Even by the standards of the growing Republican assault on the lives and rights of women, a new bill passed by bipartisan majorities in both houses of Tennessee's Legislature recently stands out for being meanspirited and counterproductive. If signed by the state's Republican governor, Bill Haslam, the legislation would give Tennessee the dubious distinction of being the first state to specifically authorize the ...

13 hours, 29 minutes ago
Views: 122 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Idle Drifter
Calgary stabbings: How knife crime in Canada can cause ‘moral panic’
What Calgary police chief Rick Hanson called the "worst mass murder" in the city's history didn't end at the barrel of a gun. Instead, the 22-year-old suspect identified on Tuesday as Matthew de Grood is accused of entering the kitchen at a house party, taking "a large knife" and using it to fatally stab four men and one woman, all of whom were students ...

21 hours, 37 minutes ago
Views: 109 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Skip Intro
Back Story of Yasiel Puig’s Journey to America Should Concern Dodgers
Seemingly from the moment Cuban refugee Yasiel Puig showed up at Dodger Stadium out of nowhere, arriving last June unwilling to discuss his unknown background, the talk behind the batting cages has been rife with unprintable rumors. There were rumors Puig was smuggled out of Cuba by members of a Mexican drug cartel. There were rumors he still owed the smugglers money, and ...

1 day, 3 hours ago
Views: 169 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
aagcobb
New York Electoral College: State Joins National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.
Ben Mathis-Lilley, Slate: New York Electoral College: State Joins National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Instead of pushing for a Constitutional amendment, which would have to be ratified in 38 states, advocates ask individual state legislatures to pass an agreement: that they'll pledge all their presidential electors to the winner of the national popular vote as soon as enough other states pass the law to ...

1 day, 3 hours ago
Views: 150 • Comments: 6
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
cycroft
Russ Campbell’s Blog: Will Trudeau’s Party Pay for His Ill-Chosen Words?
Justin Trudeau has talked him­self into a defama­tion law­suit that is likely to leave his party quite a bit lighter in the wal­let. The shoot-from-the-lip Lib­eral leader and his On­tario cam­paign co-chair David Mac­Naughton are named in a $1.5-mil­lion li­bel suit filed on be­half of Chris­tine Innes, a can­di­date who was barred from run­ning for the Lib­eral party. Innes had wanted to con­test ...

1 day, 11 hours ago
Views: 97 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Political Atheist
The Insane History of Rockets at Jet Propulsion Laboratories
The Rocket Boys In the late 1930s, a group of Caltech graduate students were booted off campus after blowing up (part of!) their building during a rocket test gone awry. Unwilling to give up on the joy of semi-controlled explosions, the students and a few of their friends headed into the San Gabriel Mountains. They picked a deserted gully -- Arroyo Seco -- ...

2 days ago
Views: 197 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 2
iossarian
Drug Companies Want Your Money
Two thematically-related stories on the BBC at the moment: UK drug company Glaxo 'paid bribes to Polish doctors' UK drug company GlaxoSmithKline is facing a criminal investigation in Poland for allegedly bribing doctors, BBC Panorama has discovered. Tamiflu: Millions wasted on flu drug, claims major report Hundreds of millions of pounds may have been wasted on a drug for flu that works no better ...

2 days, 7 hours ago
Views: 228 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 8 • Rating: 0
 Frank says:

We play the new free music, music as the absolutely free, unencumbered by American cultural suppression