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I have never used the phrase "must read" or any variation of it because of my own peculiarities, but for anyone who wants to intelligently discuss gun violence and its causes, this IS a must read.  Jeffrey Young at HuffPost wrote Mental Health Solutions Alone Can't Thwart Gun Violence, Experts Say .  Even though I have attempted to say the same things in various ways, Mr. Young has done it much better than I, or anything else I have seen on the intertubes.

I have a sick child at home today and am flying solo, because mom is out, so I ask for forgiveness for not fully fleshing this out below the fold.  I will try to point out the highlights.  

I do want to take a few seconds though and draw attention to the fact that there was a hearing last night in Connecticut before a legislative committee.  There were a number of parents of victims of the 12/14 shootings.  I saw a long excerpt on the Last Word with Laurence O'Donnell..  I unfortunately don't have time to find the link to the episode but I will describe what I saw.

In the "re-write" section of the show, O'Donnell showed the testimony of one of the fathers whose child died that day.  It was hard to watch, seeing the raw grief that he was going through.  I cannot even imagine the pain he is going through.

The sad reality is that it would have been better if he had not been testifying.  I do not say that he doesn't have a right to testify.  He does.  But it is my hope that some of the views he expressed were clouded by his overwhelming grief.  

What he had to say about guns I found reasonable even if his testimony was for dramatic effect and didn't actually have much in the way of objective analysis backed by empirical evidence of what types of restrictions on guns would be effective.  But what he had to say about mental illness and gun violence was down right scary.

He repeatedly stated that Adam Lanza was extremely mentally disturbed.  This is though as the article by Mr Young states:

Adam Lanza, the 20-year-old shooter in Newtown, Conn., had no known history of mental illness, despite unconfirmed reports that he was diagnosed with a form of autism. He used firearms legally purchased by his mother, herself one of his victims.
The same is true of other mass shootings:
Nor does mental illness appear to explain other widely publicized mass murders, including the slaying of six people at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin last year, or the shooting rampage that took the lives of eight people in Manchester, Conn., in 2010.
He also argued that there had to be better identification and tracking of people with mental illness.    The purpose I guess is to make sure that the mentally ill aren't plotting to do other horrific acts.  I don't mean that last comment to be snarky.  He actually said something to that effect.  

So what he appeared to be suggesting wasn't not just a "registry" of people who have been deemed by a court to be not capable to handle firearms due to mental illness.  No, he was saying exactly what I have been fearing and arguing against, a broad categorization of people who should be singled out and then tracked .  The purpose is to prevent the possibility of future harm..

Here is a comparable concept that I am sure (I pray at least) all reasonable people will reject.  It is a known fact that children who have suffered sexual or physical abuse are at a much higher rate  to be abusers themselves.  Now considering how destructive sexual and physical abuse are to so many children, we should do whatever it takes to prevent those who might be dangerous from causing harm. Before you say I am full of shit, here is a report by the NIH that states:


Childhood Emotional Abuse and Family Dysfunction, Childhood Behavior Problems, and Childhood Sexual Abuse were found to be general developmental risk factors for paraphilias. Furthermore, Childhood Emotional Abuse and Family Dysfunction was found to be a common developmental risk factor for pedophilia, exhibitionism, rape, or multiple paraphilia. Additional analyses revealed that childhood emotional abuse contributed significantly as a common developmental risk factor compared to family dysfunction. Besides, Childhood Sexual Abuse was found to be a specific developmental risk factor for pedophilia.

The study has supported the value of conceptualizing certain childhood adversities as developmental risk factors for paraphilic behaviors. The role of childhood emotional abuse as an important developmental risk contributor, and the relationship between childhood sexual abuse and pedophilia are of theoretical significance. Furthermore, the results have significant implications for the prevention of childhood abuse and treatment of sex offenders.

So, we should create a database of all those who have been victims of abuse and we need to track them, periodically doing inspections and assessments of them to determine if they will be a danger to others.  We might consider preventing them from having children because these children would be the most likely victims of abuse.  

Such a response to sexual and physical abuse would be overkill, would unduly infringe on peoples' civil liberties, and would have negative consequences for people who would otherwise seek help before doing anything abusive to a child.  The same concerns are pertinent for people with mental illness/health issues.

Action on the gun side is necessary and should be enacted as soon as possible.  Action on improving the delivery of mental health services and the appropriate level of funding should be pursued as quickly as possible, although it is a much more complicated issue than is the gun issue.  

However, issues where gun violence and mental health intersect should be studied very thoroughly before ANY legislative action is taken.  Such action taken in the heat of the moment without good evidence to support public policy will only lead to bad things happening to a very large number of innocent people.

Originally posted to kaminpdx on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:40 AM PST.

Also republished by Shut Down the NRA and Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA).

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    When you say it is "common sense" what you are really saying is "I don't have any evidence to back up my argument", because it is quite often neither common nor sense.

    by kaminpdx on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:40:33 AM PST

  •  Hold up (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes

    Are you advocating for a registry of the mentally ill and also of people who were sexually abused as children?

    I blog about my daughter with autism at her website

    by coquiero on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:46:27 AM PST

  •  certainly (5+ / 0-)

    we need better mental health care in this country. but europe, japan, south korea, and australia have plenty of mental health issues, and they don't have anything remotely close to our rate of gun violence.

    we don't know why someone decides to start shooting people. we never will. the vast vast majority of people with the same illnesses, with the same personal or professional setbacks or traumas, never decides to start shooting people. we can't stop people from snapping. we can stop people from having easy access to weapons of mass carnage.

    it's about guns. everything else is distraction and misdirection. gun violence is about guns.

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 11:52:31 AM PST

  •  Yes, that's right (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy of Fishes, Dogs are fuzzy

    Let's say it like it is.   As long as guns exist in this world, we cannot elmiinate the risk of gun violence.    And, there is pretty good evidence that it is not possible to eliminate the existence of guns in this world.

    However, let's take a look back to what started this most recent discussion on gun violence --   The Adam Lanza shooting, following closely behind the James Holmes shooting.  

    James Holmes dropped out of university for failing grades (a detectable warning sign of a student who is in crisis), and was reported to the campus police by his psychiatrist as a possible danger to others.

    Adam Lanza's mother removed him from school because he could not function in that environment  and then later attempted to commit him out of concerns over his mental health.   We do not know the full details

    In both cases, the kids dropped out of school.  
    In both cases, action was taken to report a mental health crisis.

    We had even dentified James Holmes as a potential shooter.  He was reported to campus police as a possible threat to others.   How much more specific do we need to get?

    We don't know what was reported to authorities regarding Adam Lanza's potential threats to others, but we do know that some justification would have been required to commit him.   The DA hasn't yet determined when that informaiton can be made available.

    These shooting might have been avoided if we had a more focused and efficient process for responding to those warning.

    We were so close!!!    We were on the trail of these two, right before the shooting.  If we had been more effective in responding to these warning signs, we might have saved not only their victims, but the shooters themselves.   Even though James Holmes is still alive, his life is ruined.   And, he even tried to do the right thing.  He went to a psychiatrist and he talked about his urges.   This is where we need to focus our attention.  

    What do we want them to do?   Gift wrap themselves with a bow, in a box addressed to the police department?

    We are counting the cost of ignoring persons who are in crisis, and failing to act when people like Adam Lanza's mother or James Home's psychiatrist sound the warning bell.   Locking up our guns and hiding in our homes might not be enough to save us.  

    We must reach out to people in crisis and help them.  It's the only way to help ourselves.


    •  We must reach out to people in crisis and help (4+ / 0-)


      And helping them should be the objective.  A system that is built around the goal of improving peoples' lives will have the added benefit of reducing the number of people who have mental illness and do a violent act.

      The same things can be said about economic equality, ending poverty, being open to gay people, immigrants, etc, etc, etc.  

      Helping people for the right reason will have side benefits far and beyond just keeping us safe.

      When you say it is "common sense" what you are really saying is "I don't have any evidence to back up my argument", because it is quite often neither common nor sense.

      by kaminpdx on Thu Jan 31, 2013 at 12:41:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Involuntary commitment seems to be the problem (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        because it's often what's needed, but human rights advocates correctly point out that it often leads to the abuse of the rights of the person being committed. Not talking about autism here, but ideation that's violent, paranoid, suicidal, or delusional. How do we guarantee the rights of everyone?????

        •  We don't (0+ / 0-)

          We never have guaranteed the rights of everyone.   We always make compromises.    There are people in jail who are innocent, for instance.  We try our best.  That's what we do.  

          When we are dealing with persons who are this severely ill, we must balance their civil rights with our responsibility to care for those vulnerable members of our society who are unable to care for themselves.   When someone in a diabetic crisis comes to the ER, and they are fighting and resisting, do we restrain them and treat them, or just let them die, because they are waving their arms saying, "Leave me alone"?   They have the "civil right" to refuse, but is that the right thing to do?

          They don't come with a sign around their neck that say's, "I'm so crazy I might shoot up a theatre", but there are warning signs, such as when someone reports them as a potential threat, or tries to commit them.

      •  For example, suicide prevention. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ginny in CO, DFWmom

        The majority of fatal gunshots are self-inflicted. What you propose will save lives quite directly and would still save lives even if it never prevented a homicide.

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