Is the violence more about mental health and less about gun control?

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I saw this over on the National Review and I thought it was a point of view that I haven't heard and I think may be more spot on than the predictable arguments going on now.

Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Counting
By E. Fuller Torrey
July 20, 2012 6:34 P.M. Comments12
The shootings in Colorado have a familiar ring. Young man with a marked recent change in personality, bizarre behavior, then a rampage killing. It was the story of Seung-Hui Cho at Virginia Tech and Jared Loughner in Tucson. And although the history is not yet clear, it appears likely that the governor of Colorado was correct when he blamed this tragedy on a “deranged mind.”

This incident should not surprise us. Over the past half century, we have emptied out the state psychiatric hospitals but then failed to provide treatment for half of those discharged. They have ended up, in increasing numbers, homeless on the streets, in jails and prisons, in emergency rooms, and committing violent acts, including homicides. Three studies suggest that individuals with untreated severe mental illnesses are responsible for approximately 10 percent of all homicides, and another study suggests they are responsible for more than 10 percent of rampage murders. We are now seeing about two such mass killings associated with mental illness each year.

Treatment should be the operant word for this discussion. There is no evidence whatsoever that people with severe mental illnesses who are receiving treatment are more violent than the general population. But it is a different story when people with severe mental illnesses are not receiving treatment. The situation is complicated by the fact that some of these individuals have damage to the parts of the brain we use to think about ourselves. In medicine we call this anosognosia. Such individuals will not voluntarily seek treatment, because they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them. Therefore a few of them — approximately 1 percent of all people with severe mental illnesses — should be on court-mandated treatment as a condition for living in the community.

Why don’t we provide proper treatment? The main reason is that state governors and legislatures think they are saving money. They are not, of course, since these untreated people end up costing us money in jails and prisons or by causing tragedies such as the one we are witnessing. Ultimately we need to hold governors and state legislatures responsible for such tragedies. And, sadly, it seems to take tragedies like this to even get their attention.

— E. Fuller Torrey, M.D., is author of The Insanity Offense: How America’s Failure to Treat the Seriously Mentally Ill Endangers Its Citizens.

One of my hopes as we move towards a universal healthcare system is that people who need these types of treatment are able to receive them.

Ulairi wrote:

One of my hopes as we move towards a universal healthcare system is that people who need these types of treatment are able to receive them.

Hear Hear.

I don't think it's an either or issue, though - someone with easy access to firearms has a convenient force multiplier. Violent with a knife is bad. Violent with an assault rifle is exponentially more bad.

Wow. Suddenly the National Review wants to give free healthcare to people they would generally term "dirty hobos"? Good for them. I'm more than happy to let them keep their guns if they're willing to drop the "no new taxes" nonsense and pay for mental health services we sorely need.

I don't disagree that only mentally ill people would ever decide that shooting a bunch of people is a good thing, but that doesn't change the fact that they still bought firearms through a system that's supposedly designed to keep them out of the wrong people's hands. But I kinda doubt the gun advocate crowd would be OK with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm.

As Tanglebones pointed out, it's not an either/or situation. It's basically what we get when we have two failed systems: mental health and firearms enforcement.

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

OG_slinger wrote:

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

I do think the NRA wants to "fix" gun control, it's just that their idea of a "fix" falls firmly along the "a armed society is a police society" axis.

I have to play devil's advocate regarding the Aurora shooting and problems with America's health system. It sounds like the shooter was at one time pursuing a PhD at the University of Colorado medical school. If that's the case, he should have good access to mental health providers. But here's the problem - the people who suffer from severe illnesses like schizophrenia don't see themselves as sick and will therefore not often seek help.

But I'd also like to say that it's quite possible he was not mentally ill but rather simply evil. His attack was meticulously planned and orchestrated, which makes me believe that he may not be suffering from delusions or hallucinations. The whole "I'm really the Joker" could be a clever ploy to look crazy and avoid the death penalty. We also don't know at this point if he was targetng somebody specific during his rampage.

jdzappa wrote:

But here's the problem - the people who suffer from severe illnesses like schizophrenia don't see themselves as sick and will therefore not often seek help.

Add to that the people that don't want to seek help because mental illness is incredibly stigmatized.

The big problem is a lack of public awareness. If you've ever seen a friend or family member with schizophrenia attempt to communicate in English and produce only what is known as 'word salad', you'd probably be more inclined to see the societal benefits of state-funded treatment.

Nor does it help that most people's only exposure to psychosis is in Law & Order when an otherwise competent adult thinks God is speaking to him and proceeds to commit horrible crimes. (Not to mention the fact that the most common mentally ill character archetype on TV is the scheming "sociopath" who gives "the insanity plea" in order to escape a murder charge, which is nonsense.) There is a schizophrenic man in Canada who was sentenced to life in prison after decapitating a Greyhound bus passenger with a knife. He will likely be regarded as one of these Television characters for the remainder of his existence, an evil, malicious and untrustworthy murderer. Well, possibly he is. But possibly a daily dose of Olanzapine could have saved both the victim and, in some ways, the perpetrator. People wish to ascribe rational motives and devise punitive punishments because they do not understand what happens when a brain malfunctions. Given a little more or less dopamine in these or those neurons, any of us could have been that man. (Or, of course, any of the tens of thousands of other schizophrenic people who happen not to commit murder and are therefore described merely as 'mad' rather than evil.)

Furthermore, something like schizophrenia is much more easily recognized by a third party than the sufferer herself. It isn't as if you wake up one day and call the doctor because you're "feeling a bit psychotic"; thus it is important that people learn to recognize the signs and have someone they can notify about it.

There is also the problem of psychopathy (or, as some may prefer to describe it, 'evil'), which I wrote a bit about in the other Aurora thread. You can't treat it, the chief symptoms include being expert at hiding it, and the behaviours it generates are among the most upsetting one can imagine. If one of these people wants guns, you aren't going to be able to stop her. She will, in all likelihood, actually appear more capable of properly handling guns than a regular person.

Tanglebones wrote:
Ulairi wrote:

One of my hopes as we move towards a universal healthcare system is that people who need these types of treatment are able to receive them.

Hear Hear.

I don't think it's an either or issue, though - someone with easy access to firearms has a convenient force multiplier. Violent with a knife is bad. Violent with an assault rifle is exponentially more bad.

Damn right. The Port Arthur Massacre in Australia did a lot to illustrate that point. Australia's also a country big on individual liberty, a substantial rural population, and dangerous wilderness. People were still massively in favour of restrictions on "man-killers" - automatics, semi-automatics, pump actions etc. - after seeing what a young man with developmental difficulties could do once he got his hands on one.

Oddly, the US NRA gave substantial donations to the gun lobby in Australia to help fight restrictions. What bloody business it was of theirs is still beyond me.

4xis.black wrote:

There is also the problem of psychopathy (or, as some may prefer to describe it, 'evil'), which I wrote a bit about in the other Aurora thread. You can't treat it, the chief symptoms include being expert at hiding it, and the behaviours it generates are among the most upsetting one can imagine. If one of these people wants guns, you aren't going to be able to stop her. She will, in all likelihood, actually appear more capable of properly handling guns than a regular person.

Actually I know a "psychopath" (someone with Antisocial Personality Disorder). He's not evil. He's not good at hiding it. I doubt he'd be particularly good at getting his hands on guns if he wanted them and if he did it wouldn't be a particularly good one due to the aforementioned Australian gun control laws. Not every mentally ill person is Hannibal Lecter.

The way I see it, the weapon is a tool. Every now and then there's a 'thing' over here for knife crime, but everyone knows a knife has many uses, and for guns they can be pointed at things other than humans. A weapon isn't going to do anything by itself, the ultimate problem is the person who decides to wield it against someone else, however you can never eliminate all 'weapons' as pretty much anything can be used violently, including hands, yet we don't go around amputating ourselves "just in case".

But I'd say weapons does provide an amplification factor, making it easier to kill and kill more, if the aggressor wants to, so I still think weapon control is a good thing.

Scratched wrote:

The way I see it, the weapon is a tool. Every now and then there's a 'thing' over here for knife crime, but everyone knows a knife has many uses, and for guns they can be pointed at things other than humans.

That was pretty much the point made in Australia, which is why rifles and hunting shotguns were untouched by the law but pistols, assault rifles, and other weapons you pretty much only use to shoot humans were banned.

DSGamer wrote:

Wow. Suddenly the National Review wants to give free healthcare to people they would generally term "dirty hobos"? Good for them. I'm more than happy to let them keep their guns if they're willing to drop the "no new taxes" nonsense and pay for mental health services we sorely need.

Totally agree.

DSGamer wrote:

Wow. Suddenly the National Review wants to give free healthcare to people they would generally term "dirty hobos"? Good for them. I'm more than happy to let them keep their guns if they're willing to drop the "no new taxes" nonsense and pay for mental health services we sorely need.

Do you read the magazine or do you just know of it as being conservative? They have all sorts of conservative opinion over there. A lot of it I disagree with but a couple of their writers (a few maybe?) are really great and you would enjoy reading if only get hear a different opinion.

OG_slinger wrote:

I don't disagree that only mentally ill people would ever decide that shooting a bunch of people is a good thing, but that doesn't change the fact that they still bought firearms through a system that's supposedly designed to keep them out of the wrong people's hands. But I kinda doubt the gun advocate crowd would be OK with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm.

As Tanglebones pointed out, it's not an either/or situation. It's basically what we get when we have two failed systems: mental health and firearms enforcement.

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

Well, when it comes to the CO situation, the guy could have continued to buy guns because he had no criminal record. One thing I did read is that he was buying a lot of guns within the last 60 days. Maybe if there was a national registry or something so if someone all of a sudden is buying a ton of weapons they can get a visit by the police and find out if everything is OK.

Ulairi wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

I don't disagree that only mentally ill people would ever decide that shooting a bunch of people is a good thing, but that doesn't change the fact that they still bought firearms through a system that's supposedly designed to keep them out of the wrong people's hands. But I kinda doubt the gun advocate crowd would be OK with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm.

As Tanglebones pointed out, it's not an either/or situation. It's basically what we get when we have two failed systems: mental health and firearms enforcement.

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

Well, when it comes to the CO situation, the guy could have continued to buy guns because he had no criminal record. One thing I did read is that he was buying a lot of guns within the last 60 days. Maybe if there was a national registry or something so if someone all of a sudden is buying a ton of weapons they can get a visit by the police and find out if everything is OK.

I don't think the whole visit by the police for buying a bunch of guns would go over very well with the NRA crowd at all. I don't disagree that it would be a pretty good idea and, more to the point, it is almost precisely what sensible law enforcement would have done in small town Mayberry during the fictional and adored past that many conservatives pine for. But let's face it. If a cop came to this nutjob's door and asked about his guns, the Freepers would be screaming about "Obama's police state" until Rush ran out of oxy in his candy bowl.

jdzappa wrote:

But I'd also like to say that it's quite possible he was not mentally ill but rather simply evil.

What does this even mean?

Ulairi wrote:

Well, when it comes to the CO situation, the guy could have continued to buy guns because he had no criminal record. One thing I did read is that he was buying a lot of guns within the last 60 days. Maybe if there was a national registry or something so if someone all of a sudden is buying a ton of weapons they can get a visit by the police and find out if everything is OK.

Everyone is buying more guns right now. That'd be a hard one to track.

When I applied for my conceal carry license here in Georgia, I had to give them permission to inspect my health records for signs of mental illness. Now I didn't have to have a carry permit to buy a gun (that only required a criminal background check), and I imagine that's how this guy got all of his guns. The mental health check is in place; its just not where the mentally ill and cirminal will use it. I seriously doubt that this guy had a weapon carry license; most people who intend to use firearms outside the law don't bother getting the legal paperwork.

jdzappa wrote:

But I'd also like to say that it's quite possible he was not mentally ill but rather simply evil.

I do believe that evil people exist. Normal people can't comprehend their thought patterns, so its called mental illness. An evil person's thoughts revolve around the suffering of others. They may justify it to make it less personal, but the end result is often the same: rapists, pedophiles, serial killers, and mass murderers (there's probably some categories that I left out).

Also remember that guns being a force multiplier goes both ways. Criminals and evil people will use them to wreak great havoc, while those of us who cannot sit idly by during such havoc will use guns to protect others' lives. Would I still try to protect others if I only had a knife, or my bare hands? I would, but there is a drastically reduced chance that the victim[s] and myself get to go home to our families.

Paleocon wrote:
Ulairi wrote:
OG_slinger wrote:

I don't disagree that only mentally ill people would ever decide that shooting a bunch of people is a good thing, but that doesn't change the fact that they still bought firearms through a system that's supposedly designed to keep them out of the wrong people's hands. But I kinda doubt the gun advocate crowd would be OK with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm.

As Tanglebones pointed out, it's not an either/or situation. It's basically what we get when we have two failed systems: mental health and firearms enforcement.

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

Well, when it comes to the CO situation, the guy could have continued to buy guns because he had no criminal record. One thing I did read is that he was buying a lot of guns within the last 60 days. Maybe if there was a national registry or something so if someone all of a sudden is buying a ton of weapons they can get a visit by the police and find out if everything is OK.

I don't think the whole visit by the police for buying a bunch of guns would go over very well with the NRA crowd at all. I don't disagree that it would be a pretty good idea and, more to the point, it is almost precisely what sensible law enforcement would have done in small town Mayberry during the fictional and adored past that many conservatives pine for. But let's face it. If a cop came to this nutjob's door and asked about his guns, the Freepers would be screaming about "Obama's police state" until Rush ran out of oxy in his candy bowl.

The thing I think about this is that it's not going to prevent a lot. Presumably there will be some threshold, and someone could stay under that threshold. Also I'm inclined to say that just having one bullet (or lethal weapon) used in the wrong way is one too many.

You can't prevent everything and it's wrong to try, as you're very likely to overstep. Thinking about it, it doesn't seem to have stopped the whole 'stopping terrorism' mindset though with TSA, etc.

NathanialG wrote:
jdzappa wrote:

But I'd also like to say that it's quite possible he was not mentally ill but rather simply evil.

What does this even mean?

Well, I'm not the one who said it, but personally I do believe humans can be evil apart from mental illness; that we all have the capacity to harm others and sometimes we use it. That even people we would not judge as insane can cause irreparable pain and death, and that sometimes saying that they must have been insane is a way of othering them and exiling them from the human race.

That said, mental health issues do exist and can lead to evil acts--and this particular case appears (from the evidence so far) fall in that category.

Mental health in general is an issue we're not well equipped to discuss as a society. There are people who believe that such things don't exist, that it's "all in your head". There are others who treat any form of mental illness, even depression, as leprous. It's a broad category, and most people don't have a good understanding of what it all means, even as roughly a quarter of us suffer from some form of it.

Ulairi wrote:

Well, when it comes to the CO situation, the guy could have continued to buy guns because he had no criminal record. One thing I did read is that he was buying a lot of guns within the last 60 days. Maybe if there was a national registry or something so if someone all of a sudden is buying a ton of weapons they can get a visit by the police and find out if everything is OK.

A national registry of gun owners? Monitoring the number of guns people purchase? Those are completely reasonable ideas, which is why the NRA would freak the sh*t out over them.

A national gun registry would be painted as Uncle Sam drawing up a list of people for the black UN helicopters to target once the New World Order kicked in. Monitoring--or, even better--limiting gun purchases would go over about the same even though everyone knows having a straw purchaser buy a bunch of firearms at once is how a lot of guns get into the hands of criminals.

If the NRA was actually concerned about public safety and law enforcement they wouldn't resist the idea of a national gun registry that would allow the AFT to immediately see who was buying--and who was selling--multiple firearms.

Taidaan wrote:

When I applied for my conceal carry license here in Georgia, I had to give them permission to inspect my health records for signs of mental illness. Now I didn't have to have a carry permit to buy a gun (that only required a criminal background check), and I imagine that's how this guy got all of his guns. The mental health check is in place; its just not where the mentally ill and cirminal will use it. I seriously doubt that this guy had a weapon carry license; most people who intend to use firearms outside the law don't bother getting the legal paperwork.

Looking at someone's health records isn't a "check" especially considering that there are 50 million people that don't have health insurance and likely don't have anything much when it comes to health records.

Anyone wanting to buy a firearm should have to spend some time on a shrink's couch as that is about the only way to truly prevent the mentally ill from purchasing firearms. A system like that would have prevented Virginia Tech, the 2011 Tucson shooting, and this tragedy. Hell, a system like that would likely also catch a chunk of the 18,000+ people who commit suicide using a firearm.

But the odds of the NRA allowing this to happen is effectively zero, showing once again that public safety is a distant second behind their desire to have every American act like Yosemite Sam.

OG_slinger wrote:

I don't disagree that only mentally ill people would ever decide that shooting a bunch of people is a good thing, but that doesn't change the fact that they still bought firearms through a system that's supposedly designed to keep them out of the wrong people's hands. But I kinda doubt the gun advocate crowd would be OK with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm.

Remember, he was not a wrong hand legally, medically or any other way when he purchased those firearms. He wasn't a criminal until he opened fired in the theater. Well, I guess he was technically a criminal when he started to plan all of those, but how exactly are you suppose to prevent someone from committing a crime when they are planning when they haven't uttered a word about it? We don't have Minority Report pre-crime stuff. What would you propose we change that will have stopped him?

It's also not the job of the ATF to medically screen people, they are too busy gun running into Mexico. I am ok with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm. The problem is the possible abuse this will open up. The ATF is already proven to be untrustworthy at both enforcing current laws and from writing rules that make any sense.

Honestly, we have bigger fish to fry. We can do much more good here in the states by tackling these bigger causes of deaths first. When we have done what we can, then we should tackle the seventh leading cause of preventable deaths.

OG_slinger wrote:

As Tanglebones pointed out, it's not an either/or situation. It's basically what we get when we have two failed systems: mental health and firearms enforcement.

Again, without the use of pre-crime/brain scanning, how was the ATF or local law enforcement do anything?

Laws also need to be updated to handle the influx of enforcement needed for screening those who do have mental issues and funding needs to be appropriated for actually enforcing the laws. We already have a metric ton of laws we don't enforce just due to lack of funding and manpower.

Here is just a small list of things needed to get the job done.

  • Universal access to health care so people can be diagnosed in the first place.
  • Care providers having electronic health records.
  • Law enforcement officials having access to those records.
  • Families being able to commit/baker act easier.
  • Systems of checks and balances to prevents above listed things from being abused by law enforcement and other people.

Who is going to pay for all of that? No one wants to bother to work with each other in Congress to pass any funding, much less actual laws.

OG_slinger wrote:

What makes it worse is that there's not a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of mentally ill people that can bring a ton of political pressure and millions of dollars to bear, but there is one for gun enthusiasts and they don't want to do anything to fix or tighten firearms enforcement.

That's a pretty broad brush. You know I am both a a gun enthusiast and do want to fix firearm enforcement, and I'm not the only one here that wants to. We've had threads in the past covering this. Attacking those you need to support you for reform isn't the way to getting what you want much less the regulatory cleanup we need.

TL;DR Gun registries don't work, lets not waste time on something proven to not work and is open to abuse and lets spend more money/brain power on figure out what will work.

Long version:

National registration is already a law for certain types of guns and accessories (machine guns, short-barreled rifles (SBR), short-barreled shotguns (SBS), any other weapons (AOW or concealable weapons other than pistol or revolver) and silencers for any type of firearm). Short barreled is defined as less than 16" for rifles and 18" for shotguns.

Now if you want a registration for the things not covered by the NFA, lets talk.

The track record of firearms registration is not a good one. The poor record of gun control and registration in countries without democratic traditions is discussed in these two sources and will not be elaborated upon here:

Democratic societies have also used registration to confiscate what were legally-owned firearms. Many gun rights advocates "believe that a nucleus of anti-gun activists will agitate for restrictions and bans on the 'most dangerous' type of firearm in common use. When that gun is banned they will move on to the next model which will in turn become the 'most dangerous' type. Firearms owners fears are supported by what has happened recently in the UK, Australia, and Canada, and has previously happened in NZ [New Zealand]."
(The Registration of Firearms: A Compendium of Available Fact From Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, 1998)

New Zealand has had some form of firearms registration since 1921. In 1974, all revolvers lawfully held for personal security were confiscated (Same source as previous paragraph).

Do you agree or disagree that the unlawful seizure of property owned by individuals by any entity is wrong?

There are other issues with registration. Recently (last year?) Indiana newspapers published the names and addresses of those who held a concealed carry license much like the names and addresses of pedophiles are published. This lead to a rise in targeted crimes against lawful gun owners. I know security through obscurity is no security at all, but this is a clear example of registration being abused.

In Australia, fears that the recent theft of 50 firearms was the result of their firearms registry being compromised.[Daily Telegraph] Gun registration may sound like a good thing but what happens when not if the registry became accessible to the bad guys?

The RCMP started confiscating more legally owned guns in Canada just before the Canadian registration ended, because it wasn't worth it, for what legal reason? [Montreal Gazette]

A shooting in Australia leads authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals with legal licenses and registrations but no criminal acts:

The weapons were held legally by registered gun owners, but police intelligence revealed 20 had "connections to family or associates who were persons of interest to the Acer Taskforce team".

[Herald Sun]

If Canada and Austrailia can't keep their law enforcement agencies from abusing their registration, what makes you think the ATF or American law enforcement agencies will? I don't think they will, they sure as hell aren't as nice/respectful as Canadian/Australian LE.

Edwin wrote:

Remember, he was not a wrong hand legally, medically or any other way when he purchased those firearms. He wasn't a criminal until he opened fired in the theater. Well, I guess he was technically a criminal when he started to plan all of those, but how exactly are you suppose to prevent someone from committing a crime when they are planning when they haven't uttered a word about it? We don't have Minority Report pre-crime stuff. What would you propose we change that will have stopped him?

Requiring everyone to go through a comprehensive mental health screening before they could purchase a firearm. I doubt many people who are so disturbed that they're thinking about killing lots of people are going to get through a session or two with a psychiatrist without setting off warning bells.

Edwin wrote:

It's also not the job of the ATF to medically screen people, they are too busy gun running into Mexico. I am ok with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm. The problem is the possible abuse this will open up. The ATF is already proven to be untrustworthy at both enforcing current laws and from writing rules that make any sense.

The ATF wasn't running guns into Mexico. They were tracking two dozen straw purchasers who bought over 600 firearms in just a couple of months. As you pointed out above, buying a sh*tload of firearms sadly isn't wrong legally, medically, or any other way because the system is so broken.

And the system is so broken because the NRA actively works to prevent the ATF from doing things that would help reduce the number of firearms getting into the wrong hands. It's not the AFT you should be angry with, it's the NRA.

Edwin wrote:

Honestly, we have bigger fish to fry. We can do much more good here in the states by tackling these bigger causes of deaths first. When we have done what we can, then we should tackle the seventh leading cause of preventable deaths.

Yes, because America can only focus on one problem at a time...

Edwin wrote:

Again, without the use of pre-crime/brain scanning, how was the ATF or local law enforcement do anything?

Laws also need to be updated to handle the influx of enforcement needed for screening those who do have mental issues and funding needs to be appropriated for actually enforcing the laws. We already have a metric ton of laws we don't enforce just due to lack of funding and manpower.

Here is just a small list of things needed to get the job done.

  • Universal access to health care so people can be diagnosed in the first place.
  • Care providers having electronic health records.
  • Law enforcement officials having access to those records.
  • Families being able to commit/baker act easier.
  • Systems of checks and balances to prevents above listed things from being abused by law enforcement and other people.

Who is going to pay for all of that? No one wants to bother to work with each other in Congress to pass any funding, much less actual laws.

Who's going to pay for it? The person who wants to buy a firearm. They would be responsible for proving that they aren't mentally disturbed before they can buy a firearm by being examined by a psychiatrist/psychologist. Of course, to prevent pro-gun shrinks from simply rubber-stamping everyone as mentally fit we'd have to set up a monitoring and review system as well as making those doctors legally responsible in some way for any crime committed by the people they green lit.

Edwin wrote:

That's a pretty broad brush. You know I am both a a gun enthusiast and do want to fix firearm enforcement, and I'm not the only one here that wants to. We've had threads in the past covering this. Attacking those you need to support you for reform isn't the way to getting what you want much less the regulatory cleanup we need.

"They" as in the NRA. The NRA has long shown that it's priority is to eliminating any barrier to owning or carrying a firearm. It only gives lip service to public safety and law enforcement.

I hate to be blunt, but if you give money to the NRA you are part of the problem. That money is used to lobby legislatures for looser firearm laws; it's used to put pressure on Congress to underfund or defund the enforcement arm of the ATF or otherwise make it more difficult for them to do their jobs; and it's used to wage endless lawsuits against state and federal governments with the goal of striking down any law or regulation that does anything that makes it harder for anyone--criminals and crazies included--to get a firearm.

I'd love for reasonable gun enthusiasts, sport shooters, hunters, and more to weigh in on the debate as they likely keenly understand the massive gap that exists between how they treat and use firearms and how most of the population does. Unfortunately, they are leaving that to the NRA whose story is that every gun owner is law-abiding and responsible and only criminals misuse them. That argument, unfortunately, leaves out the fact that a lot of folks were law-abiding and responsible right up to the point they pulled the trigger on their gun.

One of the best things that could happen is for the pro-gun crowd to finally admit that some people do bad things with firearms and it's entirely reasonable for a society to do everything it possibly can to prevent that.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Remember, he was not a wrong hand legally, medically or any other way when he purchased those firearms. He wasn't a criminal until he opened fired in the theater. Well, I guess he was technically a criminal when he started to plan all of those, but how exactly are you suppose to prevent someone from committing a crime when they are planning when they haven't uttered a word about it? We don't have Minority Report pre-crime stuff. What would you propose we change that will have stopped him?

Requiring everyone to go through a comprehensive mental health screening before they could purchase a firearm. I doubt many people who are so disturbed that they're thinking about killing lots of people are going to get through a session or two with a psychiatrist without setting off warning bells.

I hope this does come to pass. Universal health care is needed for this reason alone, lets not forget about everything else that universal health care gives us.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

It's also not the job of the ATF to medically screen people, they are too busy gun running into Mexico. I am ok with everyone having to go through a mental health evaluation before they could purchase a firearm. The problem is the possible abuse this will open up. The ATF is already proven to be untrustworthy at both enforcing current laws and from writing rules that make any sense.

The ATF wasn't running guns into Mexico. They were tracking two dozen straw purchasers who bought over 600 firearms in just a couple of months. As you pointed out above, buying a sh*tload of firearms sadly isn't wrong legally, medically, or any other way because the system is so broken.

And the system is so broken because the NRA actively works to prevent the ATF from doing things that would help reduce the number of firearms getting into the wrong hands. It's not the AFT you should be angry with, it's the NRA.

We can get into the Fast and Furious clusterf*ck elsewhere if you want. You also can't call the system broken because high volumes of purchases is legal. If you do something legally, that's not breaking something. Now if there was a cap per month and he broke the cap somehow, then you can say the system is broken, but as it is today it isn't.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Honestly, we have bigger fish to fry. We can do much more good here in the states by tackling these bigger causes of deaths first. When we have done what we can, then we should tackle the seventh leading cause of preventable deaths.

Yes, because America can only focus on one problem at a time...

That wasn't what I was implying. My point was that it is far more effective for us to spend time and our limited resources trying to save 902,909 people a year (33.4% of preventable deaths per year) than endlessly fight the f*cktards at the NRA to prevent only 10,801 deaths a year (<1% of preventable deaths per year). It just seems like we spend a retarded amount of time banging our heads against the wall when we can be doing so much more.

902,909 (33.4%) vs. 10,801 (<1%)

That seems like simple math and reality to me.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Again, without the use of pre-crime/brain scanning, how was the ATF or local law enforcement do anything?

Laws also need to be updated to handle the influx of enforcement needed for screening those who do have mental issues and funding needs to be appropriated for actually enforcing the laws. We already have a metric ton of laws we don't enforce just due to lack of funding and manpower.

Here is just a small list of things needed to get the job done.

  • Universal access to health care so people can be diagnosed in the first place.
  • Care providers having electronic health records.
  • Law enforcement officials having access to those records.
  • Families being able to commit/baker act easier.
  • Systems of checks and balances to prevents above listed things from being abused by law enforcement and other people.

Who is going to pay for all of that? No one wants to bother to work with each other in Congress to pass any funding, much less actual laws.

Who's going to pay for it? The person who wants to buy a firearm. They would be responsible for proving that they aren't mentally disturbed before they can buy a firearm by being examined by a psychiatrist/psychologist. Of course, to prevent pro-gun shrinks from simply rubber-stamping everyone as mentally fit we'd have to set up a monitoring and review system as well as making those doctors legally responsible in some way for any crime committed by the people they green lit.

Seems reasonable to me. A mental health screening tax should be able to cover it, or at least be rolled into the universal health care fund. I would also like to think the same system monitor and review doctors would also prevent those with biases against firearms from needlessly denying those who are mentally sound to purchase just because they don't like guns. We already have plenty of documentation on how states with shall issue licenses abused the system to prevent those who can legally qualified from owning. The pessimist in me knows it will be abused but I hope that it won't.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

That's a pretty broad brush. You know I am both a a gun enthusiast and do want to fix firearm enforcement, and I'm not the only one here that wants to. We've had threads in the past covering this. Attacking those you need to support you for reform isn't the way to getting what you want much less the regulatory cleanup we need.

"They" as in the NRA. The NRA has long shown that it's priority is to eliminating any barrier to owning or carrying a firearm. It only gives lip service to public safety and law enforcement.

I hate to be blunt, but if you give money to the NRA you are part of the problem. That money is used to lobby legislatures for looser firearm laws; it's used to put pressure on Congress to underfund or defund the enforcement arm of the ATF or otherwise make it more difficult for them to do their jobs; and it's used to wage endless lawsuits against state and federal governments with the goal of striking down any law or regulation that does anything that makes it harder for anyone--criminals and crazies included--to get a firearm.

I'd love for reasonable gun enthusiasts, sport shooters, hunters, and more to weigh in on the debate as they likely keenly understand the massive gap that exists between how they treat and use firearms and how most of the population does. Unfortunately, they are leaving that to the NRA whose story is that every gun owner is law-abiding and responsible and only criminals misuse them. That argument, unfortunately, leaves out the fact that a lot of folks were law-abiding and responsible right up to the point they pulled the trigger on their gun.

One of the best things that could happen is for the pro-gun crowd to finally admit that some people do bad things with firearms and it's entirely reasonable for a society to do everything it possibly can to prevent that.

I don't give the NRA money and haven't since 2004 (I think, it's been quite a few years) for the way they handle politics. Even when I did, it was just for a copy of the American Rifleman magazine for product reviews. Again, I'm not the only one here that doesn't like them. But if you keep painting us with the same brush, you aren't going to have the support of those who you need the most to oppose the NRA.

Edwin wrote:

National registration is already a law for certain types of guns and accessories (machine guns, short-barreled rifles (SBR), short-barreled shotguns (SBS), any other weapons (AOW or concealable weapons other than pistol or revolver) and silencers for any type of firearm). Short barreled is defined as less than 16" for rifles and 18" for shotguns.

Now if you want a registration for the things not covered by the NFA, lets talk.

Track every firearm.

That means changing the law so that firearm purchases can't happen between individuals. They have to go through FFLs or law enforcement who would be required to update the owner information in the database. That would also have the affect of closing a massive loophole criminals use to obtain firearms, such as gun shows. Also change the law so that people face serious penalties for failing to report lost or stolen firearms to ensure the data is up-to-date.

The database would also be a boon to law enforcement because a little data mining could immediately show who might be a straw purchaser and highlight which FFLs needed extra oversight from the ATF based on their pattern of sales.

Edwin wrote:

The track record of firearms registration is not a good one. The poor record of gun control and registration in countries without democratic traditions is discussed in these two sources and will not be elaborated upon here:

America isn't Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia, so claims of that gun registries cause holocausts and genocides are simply laughable.

Edwin wrote:

Democratic societies have also used registration to confiscate what were legally-owned firearms. Many gun rights advocates "believe that a nucleus of anti-gun activists will agitate for restrictions and bans on the 'most dangerous' type of firearm in common use. When that gun is banned they will move on to the next model which will in turn become the 'most dangerous' type. Firearms owners fears are supported by what has happened recently in the UK, Australia, and Canada, and has previously happened in NZ [New Zealand]."
(The Registration of Firearms: A Compendium of Available Fact From Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, 1998)

New Zealand has had some form of firearms registration since 1921. In 1974, all revolvers lawfully held for personal security were confiscated (Same source as previous paragraph).

Wow, nice slippery slope.

Edwin wrote:

Do you agree or disagree that the unlawful seizure of property owned by individuals by any entity is wrong?

In the case of New Zealand it wasn't an unlawful seizure of property because the law made owning a pistol solely for the purpose of self-defense illegal. In the case of Canada, the rifles were incorrectly categorized as legal. Again, asking someone to turn over an illegal weapon is not an unlawful seizure of property.

Edwin wrote:

There are other issues with registration. Recently (last year?) Indiana newspapers published the names and addresses of those who held a concealed carry license much like the names and addresses of pedophiles are published. This lead to a rise in targeted crimes against lawful gun owners. I know security through obscurity is no security at all, but this is a clear example of registration being abused.

And you really need to document your claim that publishing the names of people who had a concealed carry license lead to a rise in targeted crime. Of course, admitting that would mean that one of the central arguments of the pro-gun crowd--that firearms reduce crime--is complete bullsh*t.

Edwin wrote:

In Australia, fears that the recent theft of 50 firearms was the result of their firearms registry being compromised.[Daily Telegraph] Gun registration may sound like a good thing but what happens when not if the registry became accessible to the bad guys?

Ah, so an unproven claim that their firearms registry may have been compromised obviously means that any registry we may create will definitely be compromised. Gotcha.

I mean it's not like there's any way that databases can be secured or that officials could determine who accessed certain records if suspicious activities happened. Nope. All that is completely beyond our current level of technology.

Edwin wrote:

The RCMP started confiscating more legally owned guns in Canada just before the Canadian registration ended, because it wasn't worth it, for what legal reason? [Montreal Gazette]

Nice story link that's dead. And nice distortion of what actually happened, which was that, previously, gun-friendly "verifiers" (often nominated by businesses that sold those weapons) would determine whether or not imported firearms were considered OK or not under the law. Those verifiers let a batch of Chinese manufacturer weapons into the country that the RCMP subsequently discovered could be easily converted to fully automatic. The RCMP then stopped additional shipments and asked those who had previously purchased the weapons to turn them over because they should have never been imported in the first place.

The only problem that happened was the verifiers had massive conflicts of interest that pushed them to classify weapons as legal when the weren't and that the RCMP didn't keep a much closer watch on them.

Edwin wrote:

A shooting in Australia leads authorities to confiscate firearms from individuals with legal licenses and registrations but no criminal acts:

The weapons were held legally by registered gun owners, but police intelligence revealed 20 had "connections to family or associates who were persons of interest to the Acer Taskforce team".

[Herald Sun]

This one doesn't do much for me either, considering the problem we have with straw purchasers and the number of criminals who admitted they got the firearm they used to commit crimes from a friend or family member.

Public safety trumps your right to hand your firearm over to someone with a criminal record/associations or be so lax in how you store your weapon that someone can easily "borrow" it.

Edwin wrote:

If Canada and Austrailia can't keep their law enforcement agencies from abusing their registration, what makes you think the ATF or American law enforcement agencies will? I don't think they will, they sure as hell aren't as nice/respectful as Canadian/Australian LE.

You haven't proven your assertion that the registries of Canada or Australia have been abused, which means your larger argument that "gun registries don't work" is dubious at best.

Looks I screwed up the links. Here is the Australian one again [Daily Telegraph]. Still trying to find a working copy of the Canadian one. Not sure why it isn't working now.

This is both a mental health and a gun control issue. When someone who is mentally ill goes untreated, that's a mental health issue, whether or not they ever pick up a firearm.

When people use incidents like this to say that gun control "could actually make situations worse by making it harder for law-abiding folks to own and carry guns, which means for lunatics that there are more unarmed, potential victims" that's a gun control issue.

What if there had been armed moviegoers? In a darkened theater? With people running in all directions?

Well, here in Ohio a while back there was a well-reported shootout between some police officers and two brothers. Who got hit? No one, but those bullets (I count I think 10 shots in the video) went somewhere. And these were trained police officers, mere feet away from a clear target, not someone with twelve hours of "training" (that's Ohio's requirement anyway) and the cash to get a license shooting in a crowd, in the dark, while being jostled.

Imagine how much worse 2, or 4, or 10 additional armed people could have made things here.

Edwin wrote:

We can get into the Fast and Furious clusterf*ck elsewhere if you want. You also can't call the system broken because high volumes of purchases is legal. If you do something legally, that's not breaking something. Now if there was a cap per month and he broke the cap somehow, then you can say the system is broken, but as it is today it isn't.

Yes, I can claim the system is broken because it is supposed to exist to keep firearms out of the hands of baddies. That straw purchasers can buy virtually unlimited numbers of firearms and then just hand them over to criminals and its legal means the system is broken. And it's broken because the NRA won't allow the law to be changed to prevent such things. It's exceptionally difficult to justify why one person needs to buy 34 firearms in 24 days or why two dozen people need to buy more than 600 firearms in a few months, which is exactly what happened in Fast and Furious. It's simply naive to think those people are just avid collectors, but that's what the NRA continually insists.

Edwin wrote:

Seems reasonable to me. A mental health screening tax should be able to cover it, or at least be rolled into the universal health care fund.

Why should every American be taxed just so you can buy a gun? If you want to own a gun then it's up to you to cover the cost of your own mental health screening.

Edwin wrote:

But if you keep painting us with the same brush, you aren't going to have the support of those who you need the most to oppose the NRA.

So you just didn't read my clarification that when I said "they" in my original statement that I was referring to the NRA?

And you don't get a cookie because you stopped giving the NRA money. You get a cookie when you help create an organization that can counter the influence of the NRA and when you publicly denounce the NRA with the same eagerness you do with the AFT.

Edwin wrote:

Looks I screwed up the links. Here is the Australian one again [Daily Telegraph]. Still trying to find a working copy of the Canadian one. Not sure why it isn't working now.

The Australian link always worked. Again, an unproven allegation that their registry system was compromised doesn't mean that any registry system is doomed to be compromised.

You'll have to work hard for the Canadian one because my Google-fu didn't turn up anything but massive number of pro-gun websites and forums linking to it. Things like that make my Spidey sense tingle. After all, the pro-gun crowd has a history of continually referring to the same few highly dubious articles and studies in an attempt to prove their point.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

We can get into the Fast and Furious clusterf*ck elsewhere if you want. You also can't call the system broken because high volumes of purchases is legal. If you do something legally, that's not breaking something. Now if there was a cap per month and he broke the cap somehow, then you can say the system is broken, but as it is today it isn't.

Yes, I can claim the system is broken because it is supposed to exist to keep firearms out of the hands of baddies. That straw purchasers can buy virtually unlimited numbers of firearms and then just hand them over to criminals and its legal means the system is broken. And it's broken because the NRA won't allow the law to be changed to prevent such things. It's exceptionally difficult to justify why one person needs to buy 34 firearms in 24 days or why two dozen people need to buy more than 600 firearms in a few months, which is exactly what happened in Fast and Furious. It's simply naive to think those people are just avid collectors, but that's what the NRA continually insists.

Straw purchases are already illegal. But this guy didn't do a straw purchase so this is unrelated to this thread. Again, if we want to go down the rabbit hole of Fast and Furious and straw purchases, lets using the existing thread we have on it. We've also already established the NRA is one of the roadblocks here and I am on your side about them. I also agree with you on the volume. Why do you make it sound like I don't agree with you? I do and I am not defending the NRA or agree with them.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

Seems reasonable to me. A mental health screening tax should be able to cover it, or at least be rolled into the universal health care fund.

Why should every American be taxed just so you can buy a gun? If you want to own a gun then it's up to you to cover the cost of your own mental health screening.

I meant a tax that's added to the firearms purchase, not a tax for everyone. But your response goes against the universal part of healthcare.

Devil's advocate: I'm not going to have a kid since I am a male, so why should I pay for some other woman's pre-natal screening or birth control?

I want to highly stress that I don't think like that. It's that can of thinking that got us into this whole mess of not having universal health care. I believe we should all pitch into the pot and help each other out.

OG_slinger wrote:
Edwin wrote:

But if you keep painting us with the same brush, you aren't going to have the support of those who you need the most to oppose the NRA.

So you just didn't read my clarification that when I said "they" in my original statement that I was referring to the NRA?

And you don't get a cookie because you stopped giving the NRA money. You get a cookie when you help create an organization that can counter the influence of the NRA and when you publicly denounce the NRA with the same eagerness you do with the AFT.

I'm not asking for a "cookie" and I do bash the NRA as much or more than the ATF. I do what I suppose (please correct me if I am wrong), what others do. Vote, donate, support those who have sane and sensible policies (very subjective so this probably won't hold water with you). I don't hate the ATF entirely either, just the bad parts. There is a reason and value to having the ATF around. I just want them to clean house of corruption, fund them better, train them better and foster an attitude of professionalism, not the current boys club that it seems to be.

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