Saturday, January 12, 2013

Keep Guns away from the Mentally-ill?

Mental Health and Guns                          

                     There has been talk from both ends of the political spectrum and by people everywhere in between about the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. At first blush that sounds like a sensible and common sense idea that everyone would and should support, but once you actually delve into the issue, you'll see that it is much more complex as well as having the potential to become a gross violation of rights and a truly hostile invasion of privacy depriving millions of Americans of their Liberty.
                                    Who exactly is "mentally ill"?  I have yet to see any of the many people making proposals calling for the broad scope screening of the mentally ill with the intent to identify and then keep guns away from them to define who it is exactly they are looking for or what criteria they would use to restrict them from firearms or even who they consider they consider mentally ill. Is it anyone on or has ever in their lifetime (or how long ago before "cleared") taken psychotropic medications or perhaps just certain types of psych meds?  Receives or has ever had counseling? A certain diagnosis? Anyone and everyone that has any history of Mental Health issues or treatment? Who and what are they looking for? All of them perhaps ...that's a pretty big task that will take an army of workers to screen, a monumental amount of currency that would add substantially to the already obscenely bloated national debt as well as being wasteful, unnecessary and flat out immoral. Sounds like something Liberals would like to do, but I'm hearing it from self-labeled Conservatives as well. It's simply unreasonable and unjust and I find it even worse than the ridiculous notion of banning certain types of firearms and ammunition magazines simply by how they look (like Military weapons i.e. black and scary) or how many rounds/bullets they hold.                   
              Mental Illness is an extremely broad term that includes people suffering from simple and mild clinical depression to delusional schizophrenics. As a whole, those with mentally illness are actually less violent and commit less crimes than the general population, so why would we target all of them specifically based on the actions of just a handful or people? We say we can't racially profile certain groups of people even though statistics show that some racial and ethnic groups do indeed commit more violent crime and by very large numbers (Fact :Young Black Males ages 16-25 commit the majority of violent crime in the US, but make up a low single digit amount of total population), but to focus on on them is considered "racial profiling" and taboo, so how can we then ethically "profile" people based on a medical diagnosis or just from receiving mental health treatment.
                 The Radical Islamic Terrorists that have committed the Mass Murders of thousands of Americans were all Young Arab Males with none being known to be or declared "mentally-ill" that I'm ware of, but we refuse to profile or screen all Young Arab Male's or say they they as a group can't use airliners based on the actions of a few. Instead we focus on actual tangible threats via the Terror watch list based on actual hard evidence of threats etc. and that individuals history and fact rather than simply banning all young Arab males from air travel. Tim McVeigh was not known to be "Mentally-ill", so start banning young Irish guys from renting Ryder trucks?
          How about my elderly Grandma who lives alone in a rural area taking an anti-depressants to deal with the lose of her Husband/My Grandfather of 65 years? Do we invade her medical records and take her firearms away?
                       Or what about the passive agoraphobic(think Sigourney weaver's character in the movie copycat) who never leaves their house or experiences panic attacks or how about the guy with OCD/Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder who washes his hand 50 times a day, but is otherwise a mild mannered guy and asset to his community. How about someone suffering from Generalized Anxiety Disorder, there are literally Millions of them.The list of productive members of society as well as great leaders, innovators, authors, artists and patriots with one mental health issue or another is long indeed. How about many of our Troops coming back from the Sandbox?   
                    Or what about our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln who was almost for sure suffering from clinical depression or perhaps even a Bipolar Disorder(likely BPII). All are technically "mentally ill", but does the 2nd Amendment not apply to them? Would you and should you deprive them of the right to defend themselves or invade their right to privacy when they are not guilty of anything?

         Most mass murders throughout history had no diagnosed mental condition nor received any treatment and even recent school shooters even though some may have had an underlying psychiatric disorder,developmental disorder or mental illness of some kind or another, most never sought nor received any treatment, so perhaps expanding mental health services makes more sense than going after everyone simply receiving some type of treatment. If the ones that did have a history such as Seung-Hui Cho, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Adam Lanza and even Jared Loughner, there wasn't anything real substantial that could have predicted what was coming or indicate that some form of urgent preventive intervention was needed to stop mass murder aside from perhaps Loughner getting suspended from College with Mental Health evaluation being required for re-admittance. Most of these kids perpetrating mass school shootings were cases of them being systematically bullied and then retaliated against their peers(with the exception of Lanza)and bullying today is much different and more brutal than the simple hazing that went on when I was a kid. Partly due to kids being armed with smart phones recording and then broadcasting any and every embarrassing moment and abuse of their target as well as from the overall coarsening of our society. Even cartoons today are obscene, abusive and flat out vulgar.There are many reasons to that complex issue and those are just two observations. Loughner was also a drug and alcohol user, so are we to start screening any one that drinks alcohol as well? Think of the deaths from DIU's and from intoxicated violent behavior causes each year, but no one says much about it or thinks there needs to be some form of intervening type legislature in regards to alcohol use. One could go on for days with fitting analogies.
            Some have gone a step further than simply violating privacy and restricting gun and are talking involuntary commitment! Is this modern day America that we're talking about? Are we to return to the paranoid dark days where men in little white coats would come and take people away in straight-jackets for the most minor of reasons? You had better have a damn fine reason for taking away an Americans Freedom or any ones for that matter as well as some hard evidence and factual proof that justifies such actions.
                       Here is an article from Ben Shapiro from with the last paragraph being appalling and truly horrific. It smacks of fascism which I find ironic considering how often Mr.Shapiro likes to invoke NAZI Germany.  There was simply no signs or evidence to indicate that Adam Lanza was capable of planning what he did that would justify involuntary commitment. Ben Shapiro is simply unable to see the big picture in context nor is he able to convey practical common sense information and solutions. He among others represents the the irrational fringe of the far right and that I find just as unsavory as the far left. His ideas are dangerous, narrow in scope and Conservatives as a whole would be wise to separate themselves from him.

                   Are we to start screening everyone that applies for a gun permit/license/CCW or simply purchases a gun to check and see if they have any mental health issues? How are we going to do that exactly? Are we going to keep a massive national database on everyone and anyone that does or has received any Mental Health Treatment? And if they do or did, are we then going to scrutinize those records to determine whether they are mentally fit and deserving of the right to purchase and own or carry a firearms despite having no past history of violence(what degree) or criminality (any?). To so do violates every principle this Great Country was founded on as it prejudges someone as being guilty for something they've never done. Last time I checked, your innocent until proven guilty in this Country irregardless of your Race, Creed, Religion or medical History.
                            Now if you are talking about scrutinizing and restricting those that have been institutionalized (forcibly or voluntarily), adjudicated a danger to self and others(this doesn't include automatically include social security disability benefits since the determination to receive those benefits is an administrative decision, even if rendered by judge on an appeal, who in this case would be an administrative law judge, rather than one of a ruling in and by a court of law), have a violent(what?)/criminal (felony) past, then I would agree that makes sense and is indeed justified although I would allow them to appeal to a Court of Law to have their rights restored if they can provide tangible evidence that they are now healthy(and more likely than not to remain so) and responsible enough to own firearms. In almost all of the mass-shooting cases there were obvious warning signs ignored or dismissed by various authorities.They simply passed the buck if you will. Perhaps require some type of reporting or even intervention if someone receiving intensive(definition?) mental health treatment is believed to be an imminent and substantive and substantial(degree?) danger to themselves and/pr others, has made actual substantive and substantial violent threats(again degree) or has been shown to have an inclination to violence(once gain degree) despite having no criminal record. I'm really getting into that grey area here, but as I said at the onset, it's a very complex issue that we must tread lightly when addressing so as to not violate any persons privacy rights or their God-given Liberty. Proceed with caution indeed. I guess it should be an issue of that individual just simply perhaps getting some form of greater scrutiny(what would that be,what is the proper and right balance...Doctors alerting LE etc. or perhaps some broader comprehensive approach etc., but there are countless incompetent and unethical doctors and psychiatrists as well as law enforcement officers so this approach has the potential for grave abuses of power) rather than some type of actual legal intervention until something is indeed proven and a then those findings, actions required and the decision rendered in an actual Court of Law.

               All medical records are private and should remain that way unless there is definite proof and just cause to violate that individuals right to privacy and the only way that can truly be the case is if that person has shown by their past or current behavior and actions to be a threat to others or themselves. Innocent until proven guilty is and always has been our standard and should remain so, since to do otherwise is to start down that infamous slippery slope as well as inflict a big slap in the face to Freedom and Liberty.