Firearms and Mental Health

Comments

John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

In my opinion the discussion/ argument over firearms limitations is a waste of energy for several reasons. Those with opinions, including myself, are likely to be prejudiced or worse yet biased and unwilling to have an open minded point-of-view about laws limiting "rights" of citizens. The interchange is more of an arguement than a discussion leading to positive results. More basically, however, the topic skirts what I think is the underlying cause of much carnage - mental health. If I mention N.R.A., how many of you what the initials stand for? If I mention N.A.M.I. or M.H.A., how many know? Likely that all know NRA. The next is Nationasl Alliance on Mental Illness and the last is Mental Health America. Next question: where is the nearest facility where a person may go for Out Patient treatment of a mental disorder? Where is the nearest mental hospital? So many facilities have been closed that prisons are serving as mental health lock-ups. What agency is adequately seving the needs of the thousands of PTSD cases? The VA? Ask a Vet. Next question: Do you believe that the Columbine or Sandy Hook shooters were mentally healthy? Next question: How many cases of homicide have connections with mental health (or drugs, which is also a mental health issue)? I suggest that the real underlying issue is generically "mental health". Our society can build higher fences and the ill will climb over them. We can build more prisons but the convicts just come out of them as better (sicker?) criminals.We can pass gun control measure after measure and the ill will still get weapons and give us carnage. Finally, we can allow the Fed. Government to pass all sorts of laws and new beaurocracies that will just cause further loss of individual freedom at a very high dollar cost. In an earlier post I suggested that if our Society does change value patterns, little will improve. If we truely intend to value human beings we need to have value adding traits and habits. We are failing to do so and are debating changing results without changing causes. Mental Health !

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Pat Randall 1 year, 7 months ago

Mental health is two words that are a cop out. There are many kinds of mental health, some are chemical imbalance, some are caused from child abuse, some from head injuries. Some are depression. There are people with mental health problems that wouldn't hurt a fly. Someone needs to get on here and explain what kind of mental health causes the violent problems. If everyone with some kind of a mental health problem was locked up there probably wouldn't be anyone left to post on here. NO smilely face, I am serious.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 7 months ago

"So many facilities have been closed that prisons are serving as mental health lock-ups."

True. You only have to go into one to know that. I once had a next door neighbor who worked inside. Poor guy was a nervous wreck all the time. The stories he told were almost beyond belief. My guess is that he quit. I would have. There are better ways to earn a living.

And like Allan, I agree.

In fact, the post I just put up on another string covers the same thoughts, though not as well.

Pat,

You're right. The kind of people we are talking about here are ones who are just too dangerous to be on the street.

There is no one "correct" way of thinking or acting.

As I just pointed out in another string, there are two dangers here: One is the one we are facing now--madmen who walk the streets. The other is the possibility that if Congress gets involved in all this the cure could be worse than the illness. It is very hard to accurately define who is "too dangerous," and it should not be left to laymen to write laws about it. And it is equally as dangerous to create yet another "bureau," empower it to make decisions, and let it intrude into private lives.

I'd like to see something that works like the current law in AZ, where a person in a school who even slightly suspects sexual abuse of a student MUST report it.

Beyond that, I bow to greater expertise.

I will just say that as a 16 year old I observed with my own eyes what happens when one of these people is not separated from society. It was an experience I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy, and it forever changed my way of doing things.

What John is saying, by the way, echoes in anyone with scientific training. When there is an effect, the solution is to search for the cause, not to get tied up in a wrangle over side issues. The cause of any kind of crime is some human being who is willing, for whatever reason, to commit it. Therefore, if we can do it, the solution is to focus on the human issue. Fences make it easier to control areas. Electronic portals do the same. Self defense training may prevent some attempts, or stop them in progress. Taking away all conceivable weapons may place the attacker at the tooth, nail, fist, and feet level of an animal, but only containment, or cure, of the mentally ill gets at the actual cause.

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ALLAN SIMS 1 year, 7 months ago

There are ways to create fences, and other obstructions that don't have the appearance of making the schools look like prison, which I think was the objection of one or two people to the use of them.

So, while we limit who can access schools and weapons we should also consider IED's and suicide bombers as well. For, when we plug one avenue, they'll think to use others that have already been perfected.

I'm a firm believer that (As you and others have said) if we could limit the news coverage, or modify it in a way that doesn't trip the triggers of those with mental issues, that would go far further than fences. A balanced approach using a multiplicity of methods would result in the least chance of further harm.

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John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr Sims: A prison that does not look like a prison is still a prison and the people inside are smart enough to know. As to your point regarding avenues of attack: people have been considering options for years but recent events have upped the importance. I am guessing that Sandy Hook had locked doors for that reason. I maintain that you continue to swat at flies when the garbage is still there. However, your last remark about multiplicity of methods is on track. Many people, including me, think that some weapon controls are part of reducing potential harm. That, too, is a swat at flies. Some security is better than none.

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ALLAN SIMS 1 year, 7 months ago

Well, I refer you back to your opening comments in your first post on this thread.

We do have a difference of opinion, obviously. My premise is that we will not see a significant decrease by limiting certain weapons or their accessories.

But, in the infrastructure by which they are proposing to achieve that very thing 'we' see attempts to micromanage all weapons. That is strictly against the 2nd Amendment, which according to Justice Scalia in Printz v. United States (95-1478), 521 U.S. 898 (1997) declared that even if the Federal Gov't did make a law to limit the 2nd Amendment it could not, seeing that the local Sheriff had a higher jurisdiction than federal authorities in such cases.

Therefore, should the federal authorities pass some sort of 'law' it would not be constitutional nor enforceable should the state or the local authorities determined it so.

Why not rather follow Tom Garrett's point of view, than to pursue illegal means to reach a conclusion that, besides being illegal, finds serious objection on its lack of potential success? There are a multiplicity of methods to pursue, without ripping rights from innocent people, and subjecting them to undue search and possible seizure, which violates another Amendment protection. That of the 4th.

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John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Sims: I began this thread as an attempt to divert attention away from the continual attempt top focus on firearms. Guns, guns, guns and more guns. The topic has been explored, examined, discussed, and beat with a stick. I will not further engage in that discussion because there is no fruitful outcome.While protecting our right to be armed is important, I maintain that it is swatting at the flies while the garbage remains. Our nation needs to reduce the amount of flies while attempting to cope with a disintegration of values and an unwillingness to see the connections between values, mental instability and violence.While we fritter away our time discussing why I need an Uzi, hundreds more will die. The connections are there to be seen if we look for them and see them. I suggest that this discussion ought to be about how we could bolster our national mental health status.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Lemon, I would like to be a participant in your debate, and leave the whole firearms issue aside. I personally saw the results in California when Ronald Reagan was governor and for supposed fiscal reasons, pretty much emptied the state's mental health patients onto the streets. That circumstance, repeated nation wide is a big contributor to the situations we are dealing with today. And I am really enthused that others are willing to address the "disintegration of values " as also being part of the larger issue.There may be times I will use a different wording for the "disintegration of values" such as loss of our national moral compass or the diminuation of the moral foundations that made this the greatest experiment in democracy in centuries. None the less, I think you and others will understand that although the vernacular may be different, what we are talking about is the same core problem.

There are so many old adages that keep coming to mind that help me keep my eye on the core issues. One I think was attributed to Dr. Einstien; "Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So often we in this nation try the same approach over and over again to address issues of national concern, much of which comes in the form of laws or legislation, and yet we see little change in the specific problem, or a creation of a whole new set of different problems. Air and water pollution come to mind. After my 70 years of experience, I am certain that since we are dealing with people and their human nature, the easy/right answers are seldom within reach. It seems that somehow, someone's oxe will always get gored. There are few win-win situations in this complex world we live in. I know I'm preaching to the chior, just wanted you to have some idea of how I see things through the prism of my personal world view.

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John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Hamric; Thank you for your considered remarks. I, too, saw what happened in Cal. with the mental hospitals. As a matter of fact, for a couple of years I worked in a State Hospital. I will welcome any positive discussion which includes suggestions about changing the moral compass (good term) of our country. Hopefully we could cause perspectives to be widened.

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don evans 1 year, 7 months ago

John, good luck on that moral compass thing! Just for everyones info>>>>>>>>

Subject: Firearms as Weapons ARE AT THE BOTTOM REGARDING USA DEATHS.....

COMPARE THE 10 BIG KILLERS IN THE USA> These stats are from the US Center for Disease Control, and the FBI.

1.Tobacco Use.....................................................529,000 2.Medical Errors...................................................195,000 3.Unintentional Injuries.........................................118,021 4.Alcohol Abuse................................................... 107,400 5.Motor Vehicle Accidents................................... 34,485 6.Unintentional Poisioning................................... 31,758 7.Drug Abuse........................................................ 25,500 8.Unintentional Falls............................................. 24,792 9.Non-Firearm Homicides................................... 16,799 ACCORDING TO THE FBI, the #1 weapon used in Homicides is a "BASEBALL BAT". 10.Firearm Homicides......................................... 11,493

Note the lethality of baseball bats. Watch out. Let’s see here, between tobacco and alcohol, there are 636,000 deaths per year, or 55 times as many as with firearms. Motor vehicles are 3 times as many as firearms. Seems to me we need to have special licenses for smokes and booze, with classes required, and background checks. Given the ratio, that should occur at least every year, as firearms licenses need to be renewed every 5 years, with immediate revocation upon the occurrence of any incident. Cars could be lengthened to 18 months, with the same revocation policy.

BTW, this data comes from our Federal Govt- the FBI and Center for Disease Control, and they’re the ones now promoting getting rid of firearms and their accessories to protect the public. Can you say, Eric Holder Fast and Furious ten times as fast as you can? LOL....

What’s wrong with this picture???

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John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

Thank you, Don. Very good statistics to know. It seems that all is not as it seems. Hmmm.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Lemon, As a start, might I inject a recommendation that since it seems what has occurred regarding this nation's treatment of the mentally ill has brought this issue to the forefront, as a first step we simply put back in place those programs that were abolished with the stroke of a pen. I'm not certain how much "mental health" was addressed in the take over of the health care system, but as one who has nothing but distrust of the government at all levels, I guess we will have to wait and see. Every day we and those who actually passed that legislation, are learning more and more about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's contents. Seeing as that act is now the law of the land barring any further successful challenges, I see that as an appropriate venue for addressing the mental health problems so many are suffering from.

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ALLAN SIMS 1 year, 7 months ago

Concerning Mental Health, what I’ve heard so far is how to control those who are potentially dangerous to themselves and others. Yet, how do you make one with Bi-Polar or Paranoid-Schizophrenia healthier than our doctors have been able to do? I think that a problem we can’t solve here.

Can we decide how to handle them in a way that is safer for the nation? Maybe. Or perhaps to control them? I think that more where the conclusions here have come to. So, how do we control them? Do we set boards up to decide who belongs in an institution, and force others to take drugs they don’t want to take? Obviously, that was done in the past, and we could all live with that, unless we happen to be one of those to be controlled, perhaps responsible for their well-being.

That is why these people walk freely among us now, because society realized that they had rights as well. Do we strip their rights recently given them, away again, or modify those rights because they are sick? Obviously we should do something. But, as a strong proponent for keeping the rights we have, it is two-faced of me to say we should arbitrarily take some of theirs away for the common good, and yet claim to want to hang onto mine. And, as Tom said above, it seems improper to set ‘boards’ to make these decisions.

Concerning the lack of values, as Mr. Hamric so effectively stated, we are seeing a tremendous decrease in these. Gaming and bloodthirsty movies have been promoted as the cause of otherwise ‘sane’ people doing essentially the same as those who are mentally disturbed. The boys at Columbine were not insane. They are obvious examples of ‘sane’ people doing ‘insane’ things. Their use of games and love for certain movies have been presented as possible motives, along with the ‘jock’ syndrome and ‘harassing’ actions in school being named also.

But, I submit that the move away from a ‘Faith Based’ society is a primary cause, that leads to the indulgence in some of these other motivating stimuli; as well as just down-right mean behavior. This country and Arizona particularly, was settled by those with a strong Christian or Jewish faith, both of which are based on the Bible and the Torah.

This Judeo-Christian basis reared up a godly nation with godly morals that resulted in a nation where these things would crop up occasionally, but by and large was unheard of. It has been supplanted by belief in witchcraft, aliens, a move towards atheism, and a general wasting away of our churches. Our churches have changed greatly in the last 10 years, leaving them shells of the ‘Wellsprings’ of faith and morals that they had been.

So, if we want to fundamentally change our society in a way to weed out this behavior, it must be a return to our sources of faith, as happened (for a short time) 9/11/2001. What a shame it didn’t last. That seems as knotty a problem as how to deal with the ‘disturbed’.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

As to the other issue we agree should be looked at in developing solutions to this nation's ills, "disintegration of values " I must admit to a possible conflict of interest. I am an Evangelical so my views are very fixed into the Judeo/Christian belief system. Since such is now deemed old fashion and out dated, few will entertain my thoughts on such an issue as being pertinate to today's world. Be that as it may, as I once offered a comment to a gentleman who wrote in the "Opinion" section of the Roundup, stating he didn't want to hear about all the religious gobbledegook as part of a solution to the mass killings that we are all concerned about.I stated that when all that "religious gobblededgook" was being allowed in our schools and institutes of higher learning, I don't believe we had anywhere near the issues we have currently. As I indicated in the previous post, perhaps a return to what was "working" then may be part of the solution we are all seeking.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

Mr. Sims, I have very limited experience with mental illness directly. I did interact with a lot of those folks in my career as a firefighter in SoCal for 29 years. I appreciate the challenges in dealing with what is a very broad scoped problem. I feel as you, that we need to be very careful that we do not simply take a knee jerk reaction and "commit" every person that doesn't fit some pre-determined mental profile. Medicine and technology has come a long ways from the days when people were forcefully committted and drugged and I believe no one wants a return to that . Not unlike the data that Mr. Evans posted, there are many facets that are a part of this nation's "death and injury" statistics and we probably won't be able to resolve every one of them and maintain any semblance of individual freedom, personal responsibility, and social order. Much of the data contained in those statistics are genrated by a small segment of the population. As Americans, one of our core principles was to not let the majority trample the rights of the minority, but having said that, we already know that our representative government has already taken it upon themselves to do just that. The challenge to us all, is answering the question "How do we regulate the acts of the 10% that cause problems for the remaining 90% without infringing upon the freedoms of the whole?

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John Lemon 1 year, 7 months ago

Readers: Good and stimulating thoughts. I am not a zealot but was raised in a Christian home and have Judeo-Christian values. With that said, someone was quoted as saying that he was the "way, the truth and the light". Don't jump up and down yet ! Is it not true that if we followed the teachings we would not be this mess? Those remarks do not solve the current dilemas but do frame a lot of my thinking about how particular problems could be put into a context that would lead to positive suggestions/actions. Now you can jump up and down.

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Pat Randall 1 year, 7 months ago

Is it a mental health problem or the parenting of kids for the last 40 yrs?

First get the govt. out of how kids are to be disciplined and who can do it. Parents and Teachers. If a kid does something wrong they should be punished.

A swat on the rear is not going to hurt them. Kids are like mules, first you have to get thier attention. In todays world they know they can get away with almost anything. They threaten thier parents they will call CPS, and you know what a great job they have been doing.

Kids need to learn to show respect and be respected in turn. I believe a lot of the so called special ed. kids are nothing but spoiled brats that haven't had any direction at home.

It isn't guns that think lets go get even and kill someone. It is the person holding the gun. I have been around guns all my life and never once saw one go off if someone was not pulling the trigger. No, I don't like guns but think good people should have a right to own them and I will use mine to defend my self if needed.

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Bernice Winandy 1 year, 7 months ago

It is interesting that the changes in mental health under Reagan as California governor were brought up. Can someone update me as once again my memory fails me -- weren't changes in mental health treatment made nationally during Reagan's term as president. I hope someone answers this question.

I can remember the big tax changes made during his term. Some of these changes led to the termination of many defined benefit retirement plans and initiated the start of 401k's. Also, one of the changes led to the start of "leased employees" a neat plan whereby the owners of small corporations could have a nice big retirement plan for themselves and a much more spartan plan for the "leased employees" that worked for the corporation. I don't know whatever happened to the "leased employees" concept.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

Bernice, Here is an article that I think addresses your question. I think in it you will find enough that points to the underlying problems we face today. It's a rather long read but very enlightening. http://www.sociology.org/content/vol003.004/thomas.html

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 7 months ago

"weren't changes in mental health treatment made nationally during Reagan's term as president."

Sorry, don't know.

I did just finish reading Nancy Reagan's book "My Turn," a good book, and she was very straightforward about why he was so strong on tax cuts. In his day as a leading actor he fell in the over 90% tax bracket and it left him with an understandably bad taste in his mouth.

As to all the rest, I "posted" something yesterday, but erased part of it and was apparently so shook up after having written down something I have sworn to never put in writing that I apparently did not actually hit the post button. Sorry.

I agree with the idea that we would have to be VERY careful about any program that would put people inside for mental abberations. I also agree that we need to quit making laws that do an end run around the Constitution. I agree that the prime cause of most killings is some form of mental abberation. I agree that we have allowed Hollywood and the games and television industries to focus on things that plant ideas, and encourage ideas that are contrary to our beliefs. And boy do I agree that we utterly fail to teach moral values in schools!

What to do?

We could at least tell kids what is proper and what is not proper. Right now, they get their moral training from television. Ever watch the Donahue show?

As to the mentally deranged we could start with laws that allow those who detect truly dangerous individuals to report them, and by creating a program that puts away those who obviously should not be on the street and who cannot be cured. Along with that would have to be a companion program that helped those who can be helped to get help instead of living in a box. We will not get everything done that we would like to do, but we could make a start.

As to school violence, if that is part of the subject, the stats clearly show that most of it involves schoool kids who go postal. And they just as clearly point the finger at the place where every educator on the planet knows those kids are being provoked into action--in PE, where some poor kids are constantly being bullied, day in and day out, and where it is conveniently ignored by all concerned. I've seen it. I've talked to kids who came to me about it. And so has every teacher who earns the trust of his or her students. It is THE greatest CAUSE of school violence, and until we do something about it, we should be ashamed of ourselves.

Check the numbers. Read the studies. Talk to the kids.

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Bernice Winandy 1 year, 7 months ago

Ron, thanks for the reference. I gave it a quick read and found it very interesting. I plan on rereading it. I suggest that others in the blog read it, too.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 7 months ago

Interesting,

Just what I've been saying. As I've read presdential and other biographies I've actually watched it happen. Nice paper, but lacks one thing: A recommendation as to how we get back on track.

But if anyone is looking for one CAUSE of increased violence he can find it in that paper. More nuts on the street, more violence. What hurts is the reason it happened. For anyone who doesn't want to take the time to read the whole paper, the final paragraph sums up what happened and why. Here it is:

"Reagan's social policy is best seen as an abdication. Reagan's economic policy was to adjust government regulation so that it favored business once again, and social policy was merely an outgrowth of this larger issue. While family groups and professional groups and patient groups did clamor for respect, the real struggle was between the state and the business community. Reagan worked to lessen the tax load for the rich, and the social policies were meant to match this goal. Business needed a more favorable corporate climate, and Reagan worked to that end. The coalitions that were necessary for election were either gratified (the elderly) or abandoned (the poor). As for the mentally ill, certain changes that their families and practitioners wanted were gained, and the administration pointed this out. Even though these changes came about primarily through state governments and the courts, the Administration would take credit. All in all, business interests were served. Families and doctors were appeased. Patients were forgotten."

That's where we stand today.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

As I read that article, the thing that kept jumping out at me was how so many of those involved, across the board, were driven in their positions by profit motive. The Hospitals, the Mental Health System, the mental health specialists, the government both Federal and State. The mentally ill were simply pawns in the chess game to see who ended up with the best "bottom line". There were no surprises as to the goals of the GOP as Reagan reflected the ideology of that party ie. smaller government, improved business climate, etc. And that administration wasn't operating in a vacume. Remember Tip O'Neal? Anyway, those truly dependent on the "government" to look out for their interests got ignored. Therein lies just one reason I simply do not trust my government to do anything honestly, openly, and in the interest of the country as a whole, and specifically the interest of the most vulnerable.

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Ronald Hamric 1 year, 7 months ago

One can obtain get a look at the legislation Carter signed before he left office, the one the Reagan administration abolished. It reads like any piece of "legaleze" legislation that pretty much requires an attorney to interpret. But as a start towards addressing our current mental health crisis I feel they should dust that document off and bring it up to date and re-implement it. One thing that we all need to accept is that there is going to be huge costs attached to it, DUH! I seriously think the Feds could find the necessary funding for the "Act" if they were to abolish some of the less necessary "fully funded" programns that they are bloated with. Certainly there are going to be special interests that will come out of the woodwork at the slightest smell of another government "trough", but since the current administration is pretty adept at issuing regulations, the Mental Health Act would simply be another aspect of care that requires libraries full of regulations. Should be no big deal. It's time to do something to address the problem that will actually produce results and not just some "feel good" laws that in the final analysis do nothing to really address the issue. Just my 2cents. You're milage may vary.

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Tom Garrett 1 year, 7 months ago

"...were driven in their positions by profit motive."

Comes as no suprise to me. Legislators are supposed to represent the interests of the people as a whole, but always represent the small, well-heeled, special interest groups.

I've not seen Carter's bill, but you're probably right.

One problem with current bills that go in the hopper is that they try to nail down every point. The better way to do it is to write laws the way the Constitution was written. You write down the principles by which you want to do something first. For example: Freedom of religion. Then you look at what you are doing and ask does it fit that principle. If you try to foresee every possible twist and turn you end up with 3,000 pages of it's ands, and buts that usually make more probems then they solve.

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