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Guns and the Mentally Ill: What do we do?

So, I realized I need to be consistent in my criticisms. I often say that those who call for “common sense gun laws” never give any specifics. I’ve made my specifics clear on what I think should be done in the short term – remove gun free school zones and allow teachers to carry concealed weapons.

I personally think that what we have is a mental health crisis but what are the specifics of fixing that? According to this article, which sites a recent poll, the majority of Americans agree, it’s not guns, it’s people, that are the problem.

Some say it’s just evil and some that it’s the manifestation of an illness. I have generally thought that it was due to mental illness until this morning when I read a post from Mike Rowe who reminded me that evil exists in the world and always has. He wrote, “Evil is real. As long as humans have walked the earth, people have chosen to do evil things. This is what happened in Florida. A nineteen-year old man chose to do an evil thing. He planned it. He executed it. He succeeded.” I agree.

Rowe goes on to say that we should try and discover why but then says something that makes me wonder, “…the facts are undeniable. People from horrible backgrounds often become the epitome of kindness. And people with every imaginable advantage, often go on to squander everything.”

If it’s just evil, then it’s evil – can evil be fixed? The religions of the world sure think so. They all teach redemption in some way or the other. Either through good deeds, sacrifice, salvation of the cross and blood of Christ, or coming back, reincarnated over and over again until you get it right.

Perhaps those doing evil do so because they just don’t know they don’t have to or that the thoughts of wickedness they have had can be overcome.

If this is a product of those with mental illness and not just pure evil how do we work that into our system of doing things without stepping on the rights of others? People have gun rights and we want to rightfully protect those rights. People also have the right to be free in their persons and to think what they want. What is required to force someone into evaluation? That amounts to an arrest. As it stands all 50 states use the criteria that a person must be a danger to themselves or others. Sometimes we know that, sometimes we don’t.

This makes specifics very hard.

On one of the libertarian pages I frequent the question was asked “Can we agree that if you are a mentally ill individual you shouldn’t be able to get a weapon?” This was asked on Twitter by one of the children who survived the most recent shooting in Florida.

Here is how I responded:

See, here’s the problem. We actually can’t agree on that. While on the face of it people might be inclined to say, “yes, we can agree on that” they don’t ask the important questions. What is meant by “mentally ill”? perfectly harmless people who would never shoot up a school are mentally ill. There are a wide range of disorders. Someone with Globophobia is mentally ill but there is nothing about that which indicates they should not own a firearm. In fact, doing so might be therapeutic.

The second question is, who gets to decide? Is this a government panel? Just mental health professionals? Any old therapist or do they have to have special training in recognizing who can own a gun? Or do they have to be psychic to predict who will use a gun to shoot up a school or murder someone?

Another important question (you might be able to think of other questions) is always one which must be asked with any law: how can this be abused? Will innocent people have their guns taken? If so how do they get them back? How can they prove they aren’t insane when the so-called professionals say they are?

The mental health profession helps a lot of people but it is a soft science and not always effective. It’s not like someone who comes in with an ailment and a pill cures it or a surgery takes care of it. Not everyone is fixed by mental health care. In that regard it’s not a medicine. It is a science, but not one that can be quantified in the same way as medicine can.

So, no, we can’t agree on that.

That quandary between safety and liberty is very real in a case like this. You have people very willing to toss away their 2nd amendment rights (or better said YOUR 2nd amendment rights) in the name of a little safety. But the irony is, the 2nd amendment is there to ensure that safety exists. People just aren’t availing themselves of it. And maybe that’s part of the issue the psychology. People don’t want to blame themselves for not being armed, and don’t want to be armed for fear of not being able to do what’s required when the time comes. So rather than do the work to be ready and face their own fears of inadequacy they say take guns away. And all the while they ignore the reality that it would only take them away from people who comply. The criminal will always get the guns because they aren’t willing to comply.

If the police learn that someone is making threats then they can deal with that. The mechanisms are already in place. What we recently saw was a failure to use those systems, not a lack of tools. The FBI and the Broward County Sheriff’s Department failed in their duty. Sheriff Israel said he wished there was some way he could have just taken the guns. Well, he could have. Enough evidence existed to have the would be shooter committed for evaluation. Depending on where you live it usually starts with a 24 hour hold which can be extended by a doctor to 72 hours and by a judge to days, even weeks if needed. A judge can give a court order to hold the person and to impound their weapons. That’s already in the law.

No matter how I slice this issue up in my mind the real solution isn’t fewer guns, it’s more. The solution isn’t in trying to guess who is just crazy enough to pull the trigger on a bunch of kids and who isn’t. The solution is being ready to shoot that person when they do make that choice. That’s really what it amounts to.




Many believe that stricter firearms controls are needed to prevent future massacres – but more say that they believe, like President Trump, that ineffective mental health treatment is the issue.

Source: Most Americans think mental health a problem, want action | Daily Mail Online

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