Crime

Biden, Obama's Point Man on Gun Control, Thinks Gun Enthusiasts Are 'Mentally Unbalanced'

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As usual in the wake of mass shootings, the alternative to ill-conceived, liberty-limiting gun control measures seems to be ill-conceived, liberty-limiting "mental health" measures. Instead of talking about new gun laws, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the day of Adam Lanza's murderous assault on Sandy Hook Elementary School, "the more realistic discussion is, how do we target people with mental illness who use firearms?" Yesterday Rep. Howard Coble (R-N.C.) told The New York Times, "I think it's more of a mental health problem than a gun problem right now."

But why choose? Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr. (R-Wis.) did not rule out new gun restrictions but added, "Our country must also grapple with difficult questions about the identification and care of individuals with mental illnesses." And President Obama, while calling for gun control measures such as a new federal ban on "assault weapons," also supports "better access to mental health services" and "tighter restrictions to bar mentally unstable people from buying weapons" (as the Times puts it).

The most complete psychiatric diagnosis of Lanza I've seen so far is based on reports from several acquaintainces that he might have had Asperger syndrome. That label, which soon won't even count as a mental disorder anymore, is not much more informative than saying he was a shy, socially inept loner (which people who knew him also said). It seems safe to assume that someone who murders randomly selected first-graders is psychologically abnormal, but that is not the same as saying that a specific "mental illness" explains his behavior. Given the subjective, amorphous nature of psychiatric diagnoses, we might as well say the devil made him do it. In any event, mental health professionals are notoriously bad at predicting which of the world's many cranks, misfits, and oddballs will become violent. That means forcibly treating people who resemble the pre-massacre Lanza, which is what "better access to mental health services" would mean in practice for relacitrant "patients," would be ineffective as well as unjust.

Likewise "tighter restrictions to bar mentally unstable people from buying weapons." Federal law currently bans gun ownership by anyone who "has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution" (along with anyone who smokes pot or uses someone else's prescription drug, thereby qualifying as "an unlawful user" of "any controlled substance"). At this point it does not look like Lanza fell into either of those categories, and in any case the guns he used belonged to his mother. But let's say the aim is to stop people like Lanza from buying guns on their own. If so, the disqualifying criteria will have to be expanded. I have heard a lot of loose talk about barring "people with mental illnesses" from buying guns. Considering that close to half of all Americans may qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives, that is quite a large dragnet. Should half of us lose our Second Amendment rights, at least for the duration of whatever mental disorder (depression, anxiety, addiction, inattentiveness, etc.) afflicts us?

Assuming a prescription for Prozac or Xanax is not enough to disqualify someone from owning a gun, what should the criteria be? One possibility is suggested by Joe Biden's response to a question about gun control during a 2007 debate with the other candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. In a video submitted via YouTube, Jered Townsend of Clio, Michigan, said: "Tell me your position on gun control. Myself and other Americans really want to know if our babies are safe." Holding up a military-style rifle of the sort that Biden worked to ban as a senator, Townsend said, "This is my baby." Biden's reaction (which you can see in the video at the bottom of this post) was telling:

If that's his baby, he needs help. I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don't know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I'm being serious….I'm the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban….We should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure that we protect people against people who…are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun because they're either mentally unbalanced and/or they have a criminal record….I hope he [Townsend] doesn't come looking for me. 

Although Biden's initial reply to Townsend drew laughter from the audience, the notion that he was not being serious is belied by his insistence that "I'm being serious." So here is one possibility: People who are excessively attached to their guns should not be allowed to own them. Did I mention that Biden is the guy Obama has put in charge of formulating the policies the administration will pursue in response to Lanza's horrifying crimes?

Combine Biden's suggestion that gun enthusiasts are mentally unbalanced by definition with the stark partisan differences in gun ownership, and this talk about mental health assumes a distinctly political aspect. One need not reach back to the Soviet Union or across the world to modern-day China for examples of how psychiatry can be used as a cover for punishing and repressing people with offensive beliefs. Brandon Raub, for instance, seems like just the sort of guy whom Joe Biden would not trust with a gun.

Now we are approaching the territory of a column I wrote a few months ago, following Wade Page's attack on the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. I thought the idea of "An Ideological Test for Gun Ownership" was patently absurd, but I received a lot of email from people who took it seriously, which is testament either to my weak skills as a satirist or to the amazingly shallow level of "do something" political discourse in this country. Maybe both. Reassuringly, almost every reader who thought I was seriously proposing that people should lose their Second Amendment rights if they exercise their First Amendment rights in a way the government does not like was appalled at the idea. But those were just the people who took the trouble to write (or call). I am beginning to suspect that sample may have been biased.

NEXT: Michigan's Population Actually Growing

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  1. Jeez, what a fucked up misleading headline that does not match Biden’s quote at all.

    1. The headline:

      Biden Thinks Gun Enthusiasts are ‘Mentally Unbalanced’

      The quote:

      If that’s his baby, he needs help. I think he just made an admission against self-interest. I don’t know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I’m being serious….I’m the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban….We should be working with law enforcement right now to make sure that we protect people against people who…are not capable of knowing what to do with a gun because they’re mentally unbalanced.

      Seems fair enough.

      1. He was specifically referring to this Jared Townsend and not to “gun enthusiasts”.

        Nowhere does he mention gun enthusiasts.

        Get a grip, RC.

          1. What the fuck? Oh well.

        1. Biden is literally arguing that any statement against self-interest and any statement he regards as ‘creepy’ in regards to guns should not be allowed to own firearms because they’re too mentally unstable.

          People jokingly refer to their cars as their ‘baby.’ Are they mentally unqualified to drive?

          1. ‘Anyone making any statement’ is what the above should read, since statements can’t own guns.

            Edit button, etc.

          2. People jokingly refer to their cars as their ‘baby.’ Are they mentally unqualified to drive?

            That probably depends on what type of car they own. I’d say anyone who refers to a Prius or Smart as their “baby” is pretty fucking crazy. Now a 1967 Corvette Stringray (or any one of hundreds of other bad ass cars), on the other hand…

            1. When people ask me about my CRV (one of the old square ones) I tell them “I love my toaster!” Is it pretty? God, no. But it suits my needs awesomely.

        2. Fuck off, sock puppet.

        3. He was specifically referring to this Jared Townsend and not to “gun enthusiasts”.

          Even so, how does Joe Biden pick out an individual from a YouTube clip and make the determination that… oh wait, wasn’t the administration recently making statements about limits to the Bill of Rights because of some guy and a youtube clip? Hmm, can’t put my finger on what that event was. Never mind.

          You’re right, Shrike, the first amendment is a problem. It allows politicians to say whatever the fuck they want.

      2. Biden is brilliant – everyone has the right to own guns. However, the desire to own a gun obviously reflects mental illness thereby disqualifying those people from buying a gun.

        1. Joe Heller came up with that, not Joe Biden.

  2. It is comforting to know Obama chose Joe Biden as point man.

    1. It’s the most comforting thing in all of this; it makes me believe this is theater and not something he’s going to expend political capital on.

      1. I fucking hope you’re right; but look at Obamacare.

        1. Did joltin’ Joe take the lead on that, too? (I honestly don’t remember).

          1. Well, he certainly pointed to the misery that the average American had been suffering under over the prior four years of the Obama administration, which directly led to Obama’s re-election. The Biden is strong. You ignore The Biden at your peril.

      2. Never underestimate the value of theater in the acquisition of power.

        1. You’re right Paul. These are the ‘bread and circus’ days to be sure.

    2. Obama said he wanted answers in January! With Joe Biden on the case I’m hoping this goes on for months and months and months!

      1. He didn’t say which January.

  3. Remember all those crazy conspiracy theorists who voted against Obama because he was going to enact draconian gun control as soon as he thought he could get away with it?

    Yeah, those people were totally insane. Just ask any lefty two months ago. “Obama is not coming after your guns, fucking wingnuts!”

    1. Two months ago? I’m still hearing it right now.

      There’s so much “argumentum ad smug” shit that originally started in 2008 that never went away despite the reality turning out to be quite different (NDAA, drug war expansion, deportations, etc. etc. etc.) because it turned into an easy injoke and it’s so much more fun to feel superior to those other guys than to be intellectually honest.

      1. Bah, meant to include F&F in that short “greatest hits” list.

      2. Oh, but he “evolved” on gay marriage and he’ll make sure all the speshul snowflakes like Sandra Fluke can get “free” birth control from catholic institutions. And surely he’ll leave CO and WA alone to implement their MJ legalization initiatives. Surely.

        1. One of the things that really stand out to me about the W. Bush years, particularly in retrospect, was the sheer omnipresence of criticism–books, movies, TV shows, music, even video games all railing against him and (supposedly) his policies. Sometimes it would be just a minor little thing and sometimes it would be the central focus, but oh boy, there was a lot of it. And, don’t get me wrong, this criticism was usually wholly deserved.

          Meanwhile, most of the time I try to bring up, say, the drug war expansion under Obama, the person I’m speaking with will outright deny it’s happening/say they’ve never heard of it despite it not exactly being a secret. Or there’ll be some horseshit answer about how he’s forced to do it by the Republicans, because otherwise they’d say bad things about him, and we couldn’t have that, could we?

          I blame this in part on palace guard news organs. The legacy media with its false pretense of objectivity can’t die off fast enough.

          1. + 2A.

            All very good points. I have observed the same.

  4. His name is Joe. He must be a dickwad.

  5. Maybe he could send all of us pro-gun wackos to the looney bin for an emotional (summer of) recovery.

  6. Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice President of the United States. A man whose genius is such that he’s capable of tying his shoes, can put on his shirt with the tag going to the back of the neck in only two tries, and can read Goodnight Moon without consulting a dictionary.

    Let’s all have a moment of silence to reflect on the mental capacity that he demonstrates and the concept “there but for the grace of God go I”.

    1. Be nice. He does have actual brain damage, you know.

      1. Vice President Gary Busey

        1. If they ever make a movie about Obama, please Hollywood, make this happen!

          1. If they ever make a movie about Obama, please Hollywood, make this happen!

            I was hoping he would be played by Steve Martin ala “Ruprecht” from Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.

            http://that70scard.com/wp-cont…..echt-1.jpg

  7. Combine Biden’s belief that gun enthusiasts are mentally unbalanced by definition

    Uh no, he didn’t say “gun enthusiasts are mentally unbalanced by definition”. He said someone who refers to his gun as “my baby” is mentally unbalanced. And while I don’t think it should be the basis for legislation, I actually agree with him. If you go to gun show enough, you occasionally run into people like that, and they creep me out.

    1. “My baby” is a term used for objects which we consider precious: pets, guitars, guns, cars, cornelius kegs full of cold and tasty homebrew, etc. Its usage hardly makes one a headcase.

      If you think gun aficionados are so delusional to believe their guns literally spawned from their wives’ respective uteri, perhaps you are the one that needs your head examined.

      1. Stormy is the fuckspawn of Hate and Revulsion. You can safely ignore it.

    2. Yeah, sure. But I’d say the same about a person who names his car and calls it his baby and spends every weekend polishing it.

    3. “and they creep me out”

      That’s your fucking problem, not his mental illness.

    4. Jayne Cobb, mentally unbalanced?

      1. “I call her Vera”

      2. The Hero of Canton?
        Never.

        1. Jayne!
          The Man they call Jayne!
          He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor,
          He stood up to the man and he gave him what for.
          Our love for him now, aint hard to explain,
          The hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne!
          Our Jayne saw the Mudders’ backs breakin’
          He saw the Mudders lament
          And he saw that magistrate takin’
          Every dollar and leavin’ five cents
          So he said, “You can’t do that to my people”
          “You can’t crush them under your heel”
          Jayne strapped on his hat
          And in five seconds flat
          Stole everything Boss Higgins had to steal
          He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor
          Stood up to the Man and he gave him what for
          Our love for him now ain’t hard to explain
          The Hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne
          Now here is what separates heroes
          From common folk like you and I
          The man they call Jayne
          He turned ’round his plane
          And let that money hit sky
          He dropped it onto our houses
          He dropped it into our yards
          And the man they call Jayne
          He turned round his plane
          And headed out for the stars
          He robbed from the rich and he gave to the poor
          Stood up to the Man and he gave him what for
          Our love for him now ain’t hard to explain
          The Hero of Canton, the man they call Jayne!

    5. If you go to gun show enough, you occasionally run into people like that, and they creep me out.

      There’s no provision that says that we have to like or find personable everyone who exercises their rights under the constitution.

      I don’t like 93.6% of anything half the people around me say, but I don’t demand their right of free speech under the first amendment be restricted. That’s the exclusive territory of your garden-variety progressive. We’re not like them. We’re different.

      1. There’s no provision that says that we have to like or find personable everyone who exercises their rights under the constitution.

        Hence the “I don’t think it should be the basis for legislation”. English, mother fucker, do you read it?

        1. I wasn’t speaking to you, personally, I was speaking to the general sentiment that gun-grabbers rely on to Hulk Smash Bill of Rights!

          Think of it as a long-winded +1776!

          Feel better?

  8. Remember kids, conservatism is a mental disorder according to some people.

    1. Since I’m a libertarian, I know I’m obviously a sociopathic nihilist somewhere on the autism spectrum.

      1. I was going to say “and libertarians are absolutley fucking nuts” but that kind of goes without saying.

        What do you suppose the odds are that they discover that Adam Lanza frequented libertarian websites?

        1. Not a chance.

          He would have realized that his better option would have been to kidnap a school full of children, and force them into slavery making gorilla-chest vests.

        2. The part of me that is evil like the proggies and other gun grabbers hopes it turns out he was a proggie and this was his way of getting guns banned.

        3. Adam Lanza was autistic.
          Libertarianism is a form of autism, according to Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D.
          Therefore Adam Lanza was a libertarian.

          Adam Lanza was a homocidal maniac who should have been institutionalized.
          Being autistic, Adam Lanza was obviously a libertarian.
          Therefore all libertarians are potential homicidal maniacs and should be considered for institutionalization.

          See how that works?

          1. Simon Baron-Cohen, Ph.D.

            Like I’m going to believe anything that Sasha Baron-Cohen’s brother says.

            1. Kazakhstan’s prostitutes cleanest in the region,
              except of course for Turkmeninstan’s.

  9. Wait he appointed Biden as point man on gun control?

    Whew, I thought for a moment there he was actually serious about doing something about guns.

    1. Biden might just be the next Ambassador to Libya (or whatever the hottest hot spot is at the time).

  10. In a video submitted via YouTube, Jered Townsend of Clio, Michigan, said…

    I’m glad that SOMEBODY is finally asking the hard questions and putting them up on YouTube.

    (That is some grade-A trolling, by the way. I approve.)

  11. I’m actually surprised that I haven’t seen a politician call for restricting the First Amendment right of the media to broadcast these killers’ names and faces (right or wrong), since many of them are looking for terror and infamy.

    Though I do sort of feel that if the networks didn’t broadcast horrific 9/11 images to avoid inflaming people, then news judgment should have argued for not giving publicity to this guy.

  12. These guys really do seems to know what is going on. Wow.

    http://www.usa-privacy.tk

  13. Pretty happy I was able to find this easily

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R-sLX5UZaxk

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