When talking about restricting people’s rights to bear arms even for mental health reasons, that needs to involve due process.
After reading the article Guns & Mental Illness – Fire & Ice, by Kristin McCarthy, I felt the need to respond. I have written on this subject in the past, and felt that we needed to take a sound look at the reasoning behind the issue. It is important to note, that I have no ill will towards Kristin, I fully understand the range of emotions she is feeling, however I would point out those emotions are misplaced.
I understand Kristin’s concerns. I was for the repeal of the ban. In this case it does not mean the mentally ill can own guns. What it does mean is that those who turn over their financial dealing to someone else do not automatically fall under the category of mentally ill and lose their rights. What it does mean is that mental health professionals and judicial due process are involved. I think if congress had a proposal which would properly defined who is mentally ill and why, then it would pass without issue. Right now we have politicians trying to make medical decisions, which really should not be.
I know Kristin mentioned some folks in her article. I feel it is important to understand the backgrounds for these individuals in order to grasp how the laws either failed us, or that no law would save us.
James Holmes fell through the cracks. He was clearly showing signs of schizophrenia, and even sent a book of violent drawings to his therapist. Since she worked for the school and James was leaving the school she didn’t report it. She was then acquitted of liability on the issue.
Adam Lanza was actually prevented from owning firearms. In fact he attempted and was unsuccessful in purchasing a firearm just prior to his rampage. What he did do was somehow gain access to his mother’s firearms, which were stored in a safe; he then killed his mother and drove to his location. I don’t know if we will ever know exactly how he gained access. Also Adam’s mother was law abiding and passed multiple background checks when she made her purchases.
While I have no doubt both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were mentally ill, they were not old enough to own firearms. They acquired their firearms illegally, by purchasing them from someone who knew they were underage.
Here are a few other examples as well outside her article to further illustrate my point.
One L. Goh was the shooter at Okios University. He had never seen a mental health professional. After purchasing a single firearm he went on his rampage. Later at trial he was found to be suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. I don’t know if we can say he slipped through the system, but clearly he had no previous issues.
Elliot Rodger was the stabber / vehicular homicide / shooter at UCSB. He was being seen by no less than 3 therapists. Considering most of the deaths didn’t occur with a gun, I hesitate to bring him into the mix, however he legally purchased his firearm. He came from a rich family, so the therapists would keep the issues quiet of course. You don’t pay therapists thousands of dollars a month just to have them declare your rich son incompetent mentally. Despite his manifestos and videos, he slipped through the system.
Jared Lee Loughner, much like One L. Goh had no medical history, but was later diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. Arizona does not allow Not Guilty by reason of insanity, however due to his mental state he was spared the death penalty.
I agree the mentally ill should not own guns. I think the vast majority of responsible gun owners feel the same way. I think the key question we should ask, is what process do we use, that involves mental health professionals, and a proper judicial process? In my conversations with Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, we have discussed what we should do to provide mental help to those who need it, and properly adjudicate those who should not own firearms.
How do we protect those most precious to us, our kids? I have nine by the way. Three live in Israel. I am all for arming our teachers, and training them. We did this in Israel with positive results. Following the Sandy Hook shooting The Truth About Guns performed a simulation for a school shooting. Nothing is perfect, but almost all the shooters listed chose soft targets. By this I mean they struck out against those who they knew would offer zero resistance. I fully suggest reading the article for the simulations. There are distinct scenarios which they run through.
This experiment was a preliminary test, providing a proving ground for the methodology and scenarios selected for testing before being implemented in a large scale test at a later date.
Based on the limited data collected from this experiment it appears that an armed teacher would save lives in an active shooter scenario. The caveat: the teacher’s effectiveness depends on their level of training. Maximum effectiveness of an armed teacher of any skill level is achieved with advanced warning of the approaching shooter and implementation of a classroom “lockdown.”