Whenever some horrible event like that at Newtown or
the Clackamas Town Center happens the immediate assumption is the killer was
mentally ill, even though more than half the time he wasn't. Regardless of the killer's frame of mind, two
never-implemented aspects of the never-implemented solution to prevent such a
thing from happening again are:
- keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally
- and the easier, yet less frequently discussed, to improve mental health
While I'm all for the second one, the first would be a very
register most, if not all of us, in the FBI's National Instant Criminal
Background Check System (NICS) database when we have never harmed or threatened
to harm another person is the same as convicting us, without the benefit of a
trial, of being violent felons when our only crime is being born with a mental
illness. Including us and our medical
records in the NICS means we would not be able to get a job, rent an apartment,
or do anything else where a criminal background check is now, or quickly
becoming, a standard part of the procedure.
I know the NICS is supposed to be confidential and not part of the
routine background checks that have become part of our daily lives, but
consider this: our Social Security numbers were never supposed to be used by anyone
other than the SSA, especially as a means of identification.
is not about guns. I don't have much
need for one and I don't care what kind of arsenal my neighbors have for
hunting, self-defense, or preparation for various doomsday scenarios. If privacy rights guaranteed by HIPAA no
longer apply to us, and our names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security
numbers -- basically everything needed to steal our identities -- along with
medical records for conditions that carry a greater stigma than any other are
to be entered into a database that is going to become much easier to look at,
how many people do you think are going to seek treatment for their mental
illness? Worse yet, how many people with
a mental illness who are currently being treated are going to stop seeing their doctors?
Has anyone bothered to look into the research
already done on violent crime not related to other criminal activity? I have.
Would you like to know who is really more likely to kill someone with a gun,
knife, crowbar, etc., than anyone else?
inclusion of people with multiple DUIs and other substance-related offenses in
the NICS would probably reduce the number of individual people killed by guns
significantly. As for mass murder, improving the collection of domestic-violence data would certainly help prevent would-be family annihilators from
obtaining guns and turning office parks into shooting galleries.
the mentally ill sometimes do commit acts of violence, but the motives behind
these acts are not as random, and thus crazy, as people think. Things like physical abuse,
substance abuse, actual threats, recent divorce, unemployment, and real or
the same things that motivate normal people to go forth and commit mass murder. Normal people like:
Nidal Hasan is a fratricidal traitor, but not
mentally ill. In spite of NPR's best
efforts to prove otherwise.
Page, who was a violent bigot, with a worldview reasonable people may have a
hard time understanding, but was not
Breivik's worldview is even more difficult to understand, but he is not mentally ill.
Sayed may have played far too many violent video games, but he was not mentally ill.
LAPD officer Chris Dorner may have felt he had no other option in resolving the
workplace problems he had, but he was not
Pardo, who dressed up like Santa and, on Christmas Eve 2008, killed his ex-wife
and almost all of her family, nine people in all, with a homemade flamethrower,
was acting upon the overwhelming rage many people feel when you combine a messy
divorce with severe financial problems.
He had a plan to get to Canada, and he would have made it if he didn't
end up burning himself with his homemade napalm. He was a horrible person, but he was not mentally ill.
same can said for every
family annihilator who kills a bunch of people he feels were responsible for
getting him fired, his family, and himself.
though mental illness was not involved in the above incidents, or countless
others, it is the only acceptable
explanation because most people are afraid to confront the fact that humans are
inherently violent creatures; that our
hands evolved to use fists as weapons as well as to hold other tools
People are afraid to confront how easy it is for the veneer of civilization to
slip away; that anger and alcohol disinhibit more effectively than an abnormal
psyche or neurological architecture. People are scared enough when one of
the good guys, like ex-LAPD officer Chris Dorner, just snaps; they are utterly
terrified to consider that a neighbor, coworker, family member, spouse,
partner, or they themselves
just a couple of drinks and one more bad performance review away from being the
next person to go on a killing spree.
For most people it is far better for the mentally ill to be the sin
eaters than to face such a possibility.
anyone considered how counterproductive the constant equating of mass murder
with mental illness is? How many people who are already skittish
about seeking help for a mental-health problem because of the social stigma
will want to seek help if there is a chance, real or perceived, that their
name, address, phone number, and Social Security number, along with the
indication that they are crazy enough to kill their family and coworkers, are
all going into an FBI database
? One recent survey of
the mentally ill
found that 38% of us
who didn't bother to seek treatment cited structural reasons: lack of money,
availability, or the inability to get to where the services are; while 21% said
it was due to the stigma and 26% because they thought the available services
weren't good enough. Of those who started treatment and then quit within
a year, 30% dropped out within a year due to structural reasons, 36% dropped
out due to stigma, and 35% quit because the available services were not worth
going to. So, yes, improving the mental-health system will benefit a lot
of people, a very small percentage of whom are occasionally more violent than
everyone else, and all of whom are also ten times more likely
to be the victims of violent crime than normal people
But loudly using the prevention of gun-related violence as the reason to expand
access to improved mental-health services will probably scare off more people
who would have otherwise sought treatment!
Everything, these days, seems to be an
illness. Lets boil it down. You're either worth a hoot or you're not. The cost
factor of mental 'problem' treatment is a bottomless pit, and taxes are already
way too high. There is no cure. Cull the herd. Historically, the T-4 program
was very effective, reliable, and cost effective.
It takes a special kind of person to admit, albeit as an anonymous coward, that
they admire Hitler and want to systematically round up people with epilepsy,
like David Axelrod's daughter, autism, epilepsy and
autism like my daughter, Down syndrome, and assorted other
physical and mental disabilities, systematically kill us, and throw us in the
ovens. He is not the only person spewing
such frightening rhetoric. Look at the
comments section on the websites of any publication or news organization that
has written something on the issue of guns and mental illness, regardless of
their political leanings, and you'll find similar comments. Those who advocate something along the lines
of Action T4 are in a not-small-enough minority; far more popular is the
suggestion of warehousing all of us in psychiatric hospitals, whether we need
it or not. Wayne LaPierre, president of
the NRA, advocates getting the ball rolling with "an active national database of the
the mentally interesting are lower than undocumented terrorists who illegally
enter this country in order to steal the jobs of domestic terrorists, those of
us who never have and never will commit an act of violence will probably wind
up being made the scapegoats no matter what. If so, there is a way to disqualify the mentally ill with a propensity for violence without violating the privacy rights of those of us who never have and never will harm anyone. Figuring out who will be a mass murderer is difficult. Doctors have a better chance of determining if someone is not going to be violent than if they are
; although, as stated in that study, doing that first could make it easier to determine if someone might become violent using subsequent tests. The existing tests confirm what I've written, substance abusers and people with a history of violence are more likely to commit homicide
. Just like people who are not mentally ill. Has anyone considered a return to Prohibition? One strike and you're out for domestic violence?
No matter what is done to determine if someone cannot own a firearm due to mental impairment, we need to remove the Category of
Prohibited Persons (PCA) code, and other codes that would be deprecated by its
removal (reporting agency, relationship to victim, and any I've overlooked),
from the part of the NICS database that can be accessed by licensed firearms
dealers and whoever else you decide can look at it regarding firearms
transactions. Our medical records, even
a summary like our diagnosis, cannot be included. The only people who should have access to the
PCA and reporting agency are individuals requesting their own records. I assume someone with a domestic-violence
disqualification can't see things like reporting person and their relationship,
otherwise that's a huge problem along completely different lines. Law-enforcement officials are the only people
who have anything close to a legitimate reason to know the entire reason why someone is not
allowed to own a gun. While I don't
particularly like that either, I can learn to live with it.
HIPAA no longer applies to us and the already vague definition of "mental
defective" is expanded to be based upon nothing more than our diagnoses, then we
will be identified to the world as criminals for no crime other than being born
mentally ill. If that happens, thousands
of us will stop being treated, and tens of thousands more will never seek
treatment in the first place. Some of us
might take heed of something attributed to Mr. LaPierre, among others, when
they spoke of the time the Jewish people lived in Germany under NSDAP rule (1933-1945) arming themselves to prevent the
Holocaust. As we were the first victims
of the Holocaust under Action T4, well, that's no crazier than registering all those
who seek treatment as violent criminals, thus forcing us to live in the ghettos
of run-down motels and t railer-park meth factories, and survive for as long as
possible on whatever sort of job we can get, but more likely living on SSI or
SSDI and relying on Medicaid or Medicare and relying on frequently
inadequate workplace insurance, medications imported from Canada, overworked
medical professionals, and understaffed volunteer organizations for our mental-health needs; instead of holding down real jobs with decent health insurance and
living in a nice apartment or even owning a home. If it becomes a crime to
be mentally ill, far more people will die than do today, the overwhelming
majority from the usual causes when the mentally ill don't seek treatment:
suicide, being the victims of violent crime, exposure and other hazards of
being homeless, and miscellaneous crazy behavior, such as whatever it was that
killed my brother-in-law. And, yes, there
will be more mass murders that would have otherwise been prevented.
about shooting yourself in the foot.
I'm the founder, owner, and Chief Citizen Medical Expert of Crazymeds. Marketing researchers working for the pharmaceutical industry called me the first "Citizen Medical Expert." I liked the name so much I've been using it ever since.