Gun Control

Better Mental Health Care, Not New Gun Laws, Will Prevent Future Mass Shootings

Aaron Alexis requested mental health help. Why are we answering with gun control?


Navy Yard shooter Aaron Alexis

Earlier this year, stand-up comedian and talk-show host Joe Rogan tweeted, "This country has a mental health problem disguised as a gun problem and a tyranny problem disguised as a security problem." As more facts come to light about the Washington Navy Yard shooting last week, it seems he hit the nail on the head. 

On Monday, Sept. 16, Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old Navy contractor and former reservist, went on a shooting rampage at Navy Yard killing 12 people, including himself, and injuring 14. 

While the Veterans Administration insists Alexis sought help for insomnia only, it has come to light that Alexis reported hearing voices to police and claimed that three people were sending vibrations that kept him from sleeping. Alexis called police in Newport, R.I. to a Marriott hotel room on the morning of Aug. 7 to report that he was being followed and was worried people were going to hurt him.  

This is in keeping with a history of erratic, criminal behavior. During a 2004 incident, Alexis used a .45 caliber pistol to fire five shots into a construction worker's car and one round into the air. In 2010 Alexis was arrested for firing into the apartment above him, nearly missing his neighbor's young daughter, allegedly because there had been too much noise. 

Because he never indicated he planned to harm himself or others, a police officer's warning about Alexis was never communicated up the chain of command.

In theory, the Navy Yard should be free of both guns and the criminally insane. The base effectively strips personnel of weapons in the manner of most military bases. And working at the Navy Yard requires a security clearance. 

Despite his history, Alexis entered the Naval Sea Systems Command headquarters on Sept. 16 holding a valid pass and secret clearance. 

On Tuesday, Sept. 17, White House press secretary Jay Carney accused lawmakers who oppose expanded background checks for gun sales of taking cues from "a narrow special interest" instead of serving their constituents. These lawmakers may have read a Harvard study that found that the Americans have neither unique access to guns, nor a uniquely high murder rate, and indicated that gun ownership and murder rates are not positively correlated. 

Making background checks mandatory and banning sales of the AR-15 is much easier than improving the way we screen for and treat mental illness. But, like most gun laws, new restrictions are unlikely to be enforced or to limit violent crime. Many of these proposals violate the rights of law-abiding citizens. Instead, lowering the threshold for mental health services, particularly by removing the requirement that an individual be an explicit threat to themselves or others before they receive help, can improve lives with zero rights violations. 

Gun control enthusiasts have proposed laws which will make providing mental health services more difficult, such as a recommendation that would require states to make mental health information available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks. 

National Rifle Association chief executive Wayne LaPierre recommended a national registry of the mentally ill. Thirty-eight states already have such databases and federal law prohibits people who have been involuntarily committed or have been deemed a danger to themselves or others by a court from owning a firearm. 

Already the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has the Mental Defective File. Records in this file increased from about 90,000 to about 400,000 between Nov. 1999 and Nov. 2007. After the Virginia Tech shooting in 2007, Congress moved to allocate additional funds for states that agreed to share at least 90 percent of their mental health records with the federal government. Even with this incentive, there are not nearly as many records in the database as the law says there should be.  

Not only is the information incomplete, and has so far been ineffective at stopping the mentally ill from obtaining firearms, but using this information to deny someone the right to own a gun can discourage others from seeking mental health help. Keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill has not yet been achieved, and is unlikely to be achieved, in this way. Recording the fact that people are asking for help in a national database and then denying them rights on that basis will neither help them nor encourage them to seek treatment.  

Alexis sought, and was denied, help before the rampage. Let's not fail his victims, or anyone in Alexis's situation, by avoiding our responsibility to help and instead implementing more toothless gun restrictions and recording more data at the federal level. If we spent time looking for ways to offer more and better assistance to those suffering from mental illness, rather than deny anyone their constitutional rights, perhaps we could reach a point where we have neither a mental health problem nor a gun problem.

NEXT: Kenyan President Says 39 Killed in Nairobi Mall Attack

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  1. While the Veterans Administration insists Alexis sought help for insomnia only, it has come to light that Alexis reported hearing voices to police and claimed that three people were sending vibrations that kept him from sleeping.

    Gotta love single-payer VA care.

  2. This problem must be fixed. Gun grabbers know that if they can just confiscate all the civilian guns, it will be. Gun lobbyists know that if they can just catalog all the civilian crazies, it will be. Heaven forbid we acknowledge the fact that we can’t create a perfectly safe environment for our precious children but the effort is so much more destructive.

    This article contains facts and reasoned arguments. It has no place in the gun debate. The author should go back to comic strip writing, where her long suffering alter ego can finally marry Irving.

    1. That comic strip was equally as funny as the Friday Funnies here at H&R.

      1. Is her style more from the “Labelist” or “Boomerang Head” camp?

  3. This article is pretty uninformed. First off, it implies people who want more gun control (usually liberals) are also against improved mental health care. That, my friends, is laughable. Second, it is wildly uninformed about mental health. If we were to have a registry of all people who had a mental health problem, it would include about 85% of America. Second, it is specifically against the law, namel HIPAA. It is also important to point out the the NRA already has a large registry of gun owners that is sells for a profit.

    Finally, and perhaps the most important point, is that it is not that anyone does not want more health care, every liberal certainly does, it is that mental health is so maddenly difficult to control. Anyone with any insight into health care undersatnds that. It’s much much easier to restrict guns.

    1. It is also important to point out the the NRA already has a large registry of gun owners that is sells for a profit.

      Why is this important?

      1. Yes, I would like to know why that is important to point out. NRA lists are voluntary, and the NRA does not have the power to act in any threatening way on such information.

      2. It’s a new lefty talking point for when they call people uninformed but are actually themselves very uninformed.

        They do exactly what the people who defended the NSAs abuses by pointing out that Google gets your personal information did. They purposefully ignored the fact that Google has no way to coerce or imprison me using that information and they ignored the fact that I provided that info to Google voluntarily.

        This new talking point likewise ignores the difference between volunteering info and having it taken from you, as well as the difference between a non-coercive entity and a government that can imprison you.

        1. Yes. At the least it misses the point, at the worst it is profoundly dishonest.

        2. Irish: Bravo! Excellent points made all-around in your comments!

        3. Obama may not be setting records for transparency – but his supporters are. Well dissected.

        4. I doubt that guy will come back to debate your point Irish.

        5. Exactly. I think they’d understand the point if the entities involved were different: “AIDS groups already have membership lists of people who are HIV+, so what would be wrong with federal government having such a list?”

        6. This new talking point likewise ignores the difference between a list of people who support gun ownership, and a list of gun owners and what guns they own.

    2. It’s much much easier to restrict guns.

      The Windy City disagrees.

      1. As do Mexico and Russia.

    3. First off, it implies people who want more gun control (usually liberals) are also against improved mental health care.

      It depends on your definition of “improved”. I don’t think many self-identified “liberals” would dig the sort of reform the article is suggesting.

      If we were to have a registry of all people who had a mental health problem…

      Go back and read the article for comprehension. It never suggested that such exists. Rather that there’s no small number of people who have suggested it should (including such “conservative” stalwarts as Wayne La Pierre and Ann Coulter).

      It’s much much easier to restrict guns.

      Even if true, irrelevant.

      1. It’s a straw man to claim that Ann Coulter etc. wants to restrict guns from everyone who has ever had “a mental health problem.” I doubt if there’s a correlation between (say) anorexia and mass shootings, or between depression and violent crime. However, I suspect there is a correlation between paranoid schizophrenia and violent crime. That’s the subset of mental health problems we should be looking at.

        And yes, while liberals want “more mental health treatment,” it’s crucial to their ideology that nobody crazy should ever be “stigmatized” as dangerous, even though crazy people often are dangerous. So they will fight against looking at the statistics, just as they fight against looking at the statistics relating to young black males and crime.

    4. Re: Staup,

      First off, it implies people who want more gun control (usually liberals) are also against improved mental health care.

      No, the article implies that people who are against guns also couldn’t care less about improving mental care, not that they’re against improving mental care.

      Finally, and perhaps the most important point[…] is that mental health is so maddenly difficult to control[…] It’s much much easier to restrict guns.

      It was all about control, from the start. Got it.

    5. Staup: Read your replies. You have been summarily refuted. I have nothing to add to their outstanding refutations to your uninformed remarks. Once again, you are simply yet another example of a person “who does not know what he does not know.”

      1. Hit ‘n Run: Where respectful, substantive disagreement simply WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.

        1. It was respectful, but not substantive, as can be seen by the ease in which it was refuted.

          We left it there, with the rebuttals, for all the world to see.

    6. First off, it implies people who want more gun control (usually liberals) are also against improved mental health care.

      Not. It simply says that gun control advocates promote certain laws that would make mental health care more difficult. As in, “Recording the fact that people are asking for (mental health) help in a national database and then denying them rights on that basis will neither help them nor encourage them to seek treatment,” which is absolutely true.

      1. mental health is not a valid metric to judge someone unless its predictive power passes reasonable doubt.

        this IS the realm of precrime.

        given that mental health is a PSEUDOSCIENCE its potential for discretionary and arbitrary rulings/abuse is unlimited. so much is subjective and based upon the degree of expert judging that its not possible to second guess without getting past a case file and actually interview. this makes watching the watchers IMPOSSIBLE.

        this is not a nice little “runaway ramp on the freeway” political tool to keep your guns. its a path for brownshirts to act with impunity. its like gitmo secret detention on steroids.

  4. Reisenwitz is a former Reasoner

    Way to play it down like she’s just some staffer. Former chief squirrel would be more accurate.

    They’re going to take over over one of these days and not just at 3pm.

    1. She’s related to Harry Reasoner?

      1. It’s a cheap dig at her being a woman. This is why there are no female libertarians!

        1. You mean they’re saying she used to be a man, like D. McCloskey?

  5. So, 59 people were gunned down in Kenya. Surely, this is a mistake; guns are practically banned there! Does the NRA’s reach extend all the way to Africa?

    1. Clearly the fault of those libertarians in neighboring Somalia.


    2. I like how BBC and Reuters, and I’m sure quite a few other have refrained from calling it a terrorist attack.

      1. Reuters reported the attack, who it was claimed by, and the ‘Islamist’ nature of that group. They also reported officials labeling it a terrorist attack. So I am curious as to why you ‘like how…Reuters…[has] refrained from calling it a terrorist attack?’

        1. Because they put quotes around the word:

          Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said on Saturday that at least 39 people had been killed by “terrorists” in a gun attack on a shopping mall in Nairobi, and pledged that Kenya would hunt down those responsible.

          1. Could not the quotes have been there because it was a direct quote? ‘Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said…’

            1. No. They only put one word in quotes. It’s quite obvious why it was the word terrorist.

              I’m starting to wonder if the people who call you a “troll” are correct.

              1. Oh, concerning last night’s thread, in case anyone was wondering, Al Jazeera (Arabic) is still burying the lede under “more important” stuff, like a small protest by students in Egypt (2 top stories devoted to that) and the continual perfidy of the Jews.

                1. Did anyone ever notice the first name of Al Jazeera is ‘Al” and that Gore’s first name is Al too?

                  Very suspicious.

              2. I think they put it into quotes because it was the President’s word for the attackers. That the head of state of the nation involved identified them as terrorist is important.

                What is your theory, ‘Islamist sympathies’ among the ‘lame stream media?’ If that is your theory then how to explain their explicit discussion of which organization was to blame and its Islamist nature?

    3. May be old news by now, but suicide attack on church in Pakistan:……html?_r=0

  6. All is well in Britain Airstrip One

    Yet none of this seems to turn a hair in London. While Washington has been tearing itself apart, dismissive remarks by William Hague in the Commons and Lady Warsi in the Lords could have passed muster in Andropov’s supreme soviet. Hague said merely that everything was “authorised, necessary, proportionate and targeted”. National security was not for discussion. British oversight was “probably the strongest ? anywhere in the world”. This remark ? contradicted by GCHQ itself ? went unchallenged.

    Meanwhile Sir Malcolm Rifkind MP, head of the intelligence and security committee and supposed champion of citizens against state intrusion, positively grovelled towards GCHQ. He said we should all defer to “those involved in intelligence work”. He even cancelled a public hearing with the security chiefs for fear of embarrassing them.

    1. I think this is where we get it. It’s in our national DNA, and not diluted enough from the immigration/integration of others.

      Damned Anglo-Saxon foundations…

      1. Kneelers!

      2. That’s…odd. What ethnicity is more individual and freedom-minded than Anglo-Saxons?

        1. Icelanders.

          Jus’ sayin’

        2. True, but it’s best to know our heritage regarding liberty stretches back to Ancient Greece and Rome. The Dutch were as well.

          The other thing asserted is that Anglos are more deferent to authority whereas Latins (ie French, Italian) question it more. Is this a sign of being more freedom-minded?

          There are elements, for example, of Italian society that challenges the state – which I guess is part of the reason anarchism was popular there.

          Just musing out loud.

    2. Well, it’s understandable that the English trust their intelligence services. It’s not like they’ve ever been compromised or anything.

  7. ways to offer more and better assistance to those suffering from mental illness

    Pop-up ads!

    Seriously, this is no small part of the problem. *Mentally* ill people may not only not take you up on these offers, they may resist them as perceived threats.

    1. If you’ve ever had a girlfriend (or three) with borderline personality disorder or some close variant, and have looked into it much, you’ll know there are some conditions that can’t be helped unless and until the subject recognizes a problem and consciously chooses to seek treatment.

      1. Jon Lester: You speak the truth! This onus falls upon the mentally ill, who can be given feedback and guidance from all of the family, friends and stakeholders in their lives. I had a terrific uncle who I idolized fall prey to bipolar disorder, and he neither recognized his condition or treated it, despite the attempted interventions taken by myself, his wife, his business partners and his son, and it consequently led to his premature demise at the too-young age of 63. The man was once the pillar of his community, and his otherwise outstanding physical health should have allowed him to live at lest another 20 years. We’ve all been there with the borderline personality girlfriends/boyfriends and spouses who fail to acknowledge the feedback on their conditions and impose a living hell on the people in their lives. And you are hearing this from someone who has a mental health condition, so I have the street cred to back you up on this fully.

      2. Mental illness runs in my family. It’s not a settled science. The vast majority of cases wouldn’t turn violent.

        Yet, both sides are attacking it which is a trend I find disturbing. We can literally find ourselves imprisoning or ruining the lives of functional people who suffer from depression. I bet you we all have one person we’re connected to who suffers mental illness in some form.

        1. If I were a mental health professional or a client of one, and I looked at the possibility of a government mental health db set up the way the government “sexual predator” db works, I’d have to go change my pants.

  8. We cannot possibly keep track of all the potentially dangerous crazy people without hiding the government the authority to lock up any person at any time. They already think they have this, so let’s not encourage the swine. Maybe the presence of more armed persons wouldn’t have made any difference, but I can’t help but think that two mass shootings on disarmed military bases is AT LEAST one too many.

    The gun control argument has been going on as long as I’ve been paying attention to politics. In that time, the number of citizens who are free to arm themselves without State meddling has steadily increased and crime has shakily decreased. The two may or may not be connected, but what is certain is that the apocalyptic predictions of “Dodge City” made by the Gun Control hysterics every time it looked like their hobby horse was going to get pushed back haven’t come true.

    So, let’s try training and arming our children as part of their school curriculum. Let them study firearms use and safety alongside driving safety, pass the test at the same time, and graduate from primary education as full citizens empowered to vote and to defend themselves. Let’s, in fact, “license guns just the way we do cars”; no permit required to use on private property, license and tax only for operation on tax funded venues, no exclusions for felons or nuts?.If nothing else it would cause mass apoplexy among the chattering classes, which would be a definite benefit.

    1. no exclusions for felons or nuts

      Perhaps inverting this would be a fruitful approach: abolish the “right to drive” for felons and adjudicated mentally ill. See how that flies. Then we can restrict the hell out of *everybody*.

      1. Rich: Yep, too many restrictions by government cronies is a terrible idea.

    2. Schofield: You make some excellent points in the first half of your comments. “Training and arming our children as part of their school curriculum” is an interesting idea, but it would make no sense having this dictated at either the federal or state levels. Local school districts could be free to develop such programs at individual schools, but the programs would have to be optional and up to the discretion of the parents of the children. Every time I hear somebody say “let’s try” I can only imagine bureaucrats at the DOE and the states either completely rejecting this idea or totally bungling its implementation.

      1. I was trying for a “Modest Proposal” vibe, while going for a proposal that the gun grabbers have made (licensed like cars) that I was sure would give them conniptions if actually implemented.

  9. So, violent crime is down. Crime involving guns is down. Spree shooting hasn’t changed.


    Like, educate the public that the media will report what is in their best interests to report and to stop being mindless fucking sheep.

    I know…I know…

    1. violent crime is down

      If you haven’t already, go to the FBI’s site. I couldn’t count the number of people who argue with me when I tell them that crime has been going down for a couple of decades. They are absolutely convinced that more TV reports of violent crime equals more violent crime. Even after I tell them the statistics they often still do not believe.

      1. Marshall Gill: keep putting the truth out there. You are fighting the good fight!

      2. Marshall, true story.

        One, lazy, hot summer afternoon back in the early 1990s and friend and I were sitting around his house. We got to talking about soccer and we wondered which countries had won the World Cup. At the time, our only legit source of facts was the encyclopedia. There, we discovered that Brazil, Italy and Germany each had three and Argentina two.

        In walks his father and asked what we were doing. We told him and he replied, “Brazil has four.” “No, pa. Sez so right here. Brazil has three.” “No, quattro” (he was Italian God rest his soul). My friend just looked at me and nodded his nead, “even when it’s in print they don’t believe.”

        That’s when we learned to never bother arguing with hard heads.

        1. Come to think of it, it may have been the late 80s. Not that it changes the point of the comment.

    2. Bravo, Francisco! How are your copper mines doing?

      1. Outstanding, as far as everyone knows. 😉

  10. Oh, look. Some weepy mommy is perched atop the dead body of her daughter trying to take my guns away. Thanks, NBC.

    “We just want to close some loopholes. Ninety per cent of Americans want these sensible, reasonable gun safety precautions. You don’t need a gun. That’s what policemen are for.”

    1. The Late P Brooks: nice comment about those idiots at NBC. Where did you get that quote from? It sounds like something that moron Obama has said repeatedly in his pathetic attempts to push gun “control” laws.

  11. Good article, some good thinking by Cathy, as usual.

  12. Navy Yard shooting: Swat team awaits answers
    The Capitol Police tactical response team was told by a supervisor to leave the scene instead of aiding municipal officers, sources told the BBC.

    Meanwhile, the department has installed a new leader of the elite unit. No reason has been given for the decision.

    1. …According to sources, an officer with the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), Washington DC’s main municipal force, told the Capitol Cert officers they were the only police on site equipped with long guns, and requested their help stopping the gunman.

      When the Capitol Police team radioed their superiors, they were told by a watch commander to leave the scene, the BBC was told.

      On Thursday, FBI Director James B Comey Jr told ABC News it took roughly half an hour for armed police to arrive and engage Alexis. All 12 victims were killed within that time. …

      1. This is another nasty irony in so many of these mass shooting cases: The SWAT teams stand by, waiting for instructions, their superiors worried about how they look on the National news. Meanwhile, the active shooter is in there chopping people up. The SWAT team, of course, is the biggest gun available to local law enforcement, there is no step up in jurisdiction, other than calling in the military. The buck stops with them, but they are always trying to pass it off to someone else. Often, the SWAT teams are in anguish, and they should be, looking like pure cowards. This command breakdown happened prominently at the Columbine shooting, and Mumbai. In the active shooter scenario, if you can’t protect yourself, don’t expect the Police to do it.

        1. And someone who is cynical or paranoid (which I am not, in this case) looks at that and sees it as the government allowing the killings to proceed, for their own nefarious purposes.

  13. One detail the author glossed over: What does “the threshold for mental health services” mean? Is that a threshold for being allowed to receive them? Because there isn’t any, if the client is paying. But there may be if a 3rd party is paying. Or is it a threshold for being required to get them?

  14. …nearly missing his neighbor’s young daughter…

    If she wasn’t hit then the shot didn’t nearly miss her, it DID miss her.

    I don’t know why, but this peeves me. It’s like when two aircraft get close to each other and the news media calls it a “near miss.” Isn’t it actually a near hit?

    1. And why do “flammable” and “inflammable” mean the same thing?

      And why do people say “decimate” when they mean the destruction of more than one tenth?

      Language is imprecise….

  15. I think this author hasn’t read, but should read, Szasz. Lowering the threshold for mental health services is as much of a threat to liberty as gun control.

    1. This. When you’ve heard Szasz’s impassioned plea against committing the categorical error of speaking of “mental health” or “mental illness”–and medicalizing social and cultural concerns at a time when it looks increasingly likely that most physicians will be state employees at some point in the next generation–it becomes impossible to conclude that “lowering the threshold for mental health services, particularly by removing the requirement that an individual be an explicit threat to themselves or others before they receive help, can improve lives with zero rights violations.”

      By “receive help,” the author presumably means “be involuntarily committed.” I’ll take the rare attempted mass shooting rather than see millions of innocent people locked up sans criminal conduct.

      1. Nobody wants to lock up “millions.” There aren’t millions of paranoid schizophrenics walking the streets. The problem with Szasz is that his theories lead to a great deal of crime, violence, and homelessness, because seriously crazy people are now allowed to roam the streets, until they commit some major crime.

        This is not to defend the Snake Pit era asylums and the over-eagerness to commit people that we used to have, but I think the pendulum has swung too far in the other direction.

        1. I agree with much of what you said, but I do not agree that “Nobody wants to lock up Millions.” This is precisely what the USA has done, especially over the last two decades. It is logical to conclude that the Government, and large numbers of citizens, and most of the people I talk to anecdotally, have no problem whatsoever with whimsically locking up HUGE numbers of people.

          1. I meant “lock up millions of mentally ill people simply because they are mentally ill,” i.e. involuntary commitment, not criminals in prison.

  16. From a foreigner’s point of view, I think it would be appropriate to ask why the US has more deadly rampage shootings per capita than any OECD country with more than 20 million people []. That’s twice Germany’s rate, 30 times Mexico’s rate and 60 times Japan’s.

    1. What does being an “OECD country” have to do with anything?

      You’re letting your bigotry show.

      1. simply because there’s no comparable worldwide data available. I don’t live in an OECD country, so who’s prejudging here?

        1. One need not be a resident of a particular place to be bigoted towards it, or against it for that matter.

          Whether the bias originates from the collecting of the data or the analysis and reporting of them, makes no difference.

          My point still stands.

          1. I suppose I’m bigoted against my own nationality then.

            1. and sure, close your eyes to the pretty obvious fact that the U.S number of rampage shootings/capita is unusually high.

              1. If by “closing my eyes” you mean that a recognize the statistical fact that I am vastly more likely to die from injuries sustained while falling off a stepladder than I am to die from a rampage shooter, then yes, my eyes are wide shut.

                1. If by “closing my eyes” you mean that a recognize the statistical fact that I am vastly more likely to die from injuries sustained while falling off a stepladder than I am to die from a rampage shooter,

                  Actually, you’re more likely to die from a lightning strike than being murdered by a rampage shooter.

                  1. What precisely are the chances of your being murdered by a rampage shooter? Unless you can come up with a figure for that what basis do we have to believe your claim? No doubt you believe it, but you’ll need to do better than that if you want to persuade the readers here.

                2. we are talking about avoiding deaths here. Between a reality where the lives of 40 Americans die per year and one where 4 do, don’t you have any preference? You don’t think it’s relevant to discuss if they’re avoidable, however “small”?

                  1. we are talking about avoiding deaths here. Between a reality where 40 Americans die in rampage shootings per year and one where 4 do, don’t you have any preference? You don’t think it’s relevant to discuss if they’re avoidable, however “small”?

            2. As many expats tend to be, in my experience.

              Nevertheless, by limiting the discussion to only “developed” countries, one is, in effect, saying that gun violence is to be expected in undeveloped (i.e. uncivilized) countries.

              Indeed, when a Shiite walks into a Sunni Mosque in downtown Karbala and shoots up the place, is that a “rampage shooting” or terrorism? If so, what is the difference. The data provided in the link you cite includes Anders Brevik’s crime. Clearly Brevik was mentally disturbed, but he also committed his crime based on deeply held political beliefs. Was Brevik insane or a terrorist…or both? And if both, why aren’t the data from countries like Iraq, Thailand, and Nigeria included?

              1. Just to be clear: I was born and live in a non-OECD country.

                As I said, unfortunately there’s no worldwide data available. Still, the data shows that it’s possible for a country to simultaneously have a lower homicide rate and a substantially lower rate of rampage shootings/capita at the same time.

        2. Fast and Furious …

    2. I don’t think the number of rampage shootings is particularly meaningful. Most murders in America occur in places with very strict gun control laws. Rampage shootings make up an infinitesimally small percentage of murders in this country and your odds of dying in one, or even knowing someone in your entire life who dies in one, is virtually nonexistent.

      Let’s say you ban guns and the number of rampage shootings drops. Okay, great. But this then creates a new black market that results in turf wars just like the drug war and you start seeing large numbers of people die every year from the illegal gun trade. Your country is worse off now, even though the number of mass shootings has dropped. Example to prove my point. Mexico has fewer rampage shootings than both Germany and America, but their murder rate is 20 times that of America’s and 30 times that of Germany’s.

      The lack of rampage shootings has not improved that country at all. I’m sure Mexico would trade 20 people dying yearly in rampage shootings for the 100,000 people that have died or disappeared as a result of their attempts to clamp down on the drug and guns trade.

      Legislating based on such a small number of incidents is a bad idea.

      1. I agree that a death is a death, but you’re assuming it’s a trade off. According to the data, it’s possible to have a low the number of mass shootings and a low homicide rate at the same time. Whether it’s necessarily dependent on gun control it’s another question.

        1. Gun control laws are probably the least meaningful variable in the equation.

          1. I agree about guns, and I’m skeptical about ‘mental health’ being much more meaningful that access to guns.

            Out of curiosity, what would you say are the more meaningful variables in the equation?

      2. “the number of rampage shootings is particularly meaningful”

        What is the number of rampage shootings? We need to have a number before us before we can decide that it is meaningful or not. Mother Jones came up with a number, and that was hotly disputed here. Fox on the other hand insists that these rampage shootings are no different from any other mass murder.

    3. Ok, just checked out that website. A few points, what’s with the World Cup appearances non-sequitur? Second, notice the U.S. numbers aren’t that bad when you really look at the figures – again, as I pointed out elsewhere, violent crime for example. Anyway, these stats aren’t that helpful to prove whatever point you wanted to make. Last, Norway’s 77 deaths as a result of mass shootings is pretty damn high for a country of 4 million, no? Without crunching the numbers, it’s worse than the USA’s 186.

      Is Norway failing to think of the children?

      1. Have you read my post? Countries with small populations are statistically unreliable over such a short period of time, and that’s why I compared the U.S. with countries such as Germany, Mexico and Japan.

        1. Why is Norway, for example, statistically unreliable? Curious.

          1. When it comes to violence, the US isn’t really one country anyway. It’s fifty different states with unique legal and cultural histories, with wide variations in the homicide rate between them.

            Note: this map is limited to gun homicides, which will give a distorted picture of the true level of violent crime in the places under comparison.

    4. I suggest you read the Harvard paper linked to in the article. It really answers a lot of questions about gun control, murder rates, etc.

  17. Mental Defective File. Records in this file increased from about 90,000 to about 400,000 between Nov. 1999 and Nov. 2007.

    The Bush and Obama jokes write themselves.

    1. I’m gobsmacked that the government has something with such a politically incorrect name. Shouldn’t it be the “Mentally Diverse File” or something?

  18. From a foreigner’s point of view, I think it would be appropriate

    From an American’s point of view, and don’t take this personally, I don’t give a shit what people in countries not (putatively) governed under the terms of our Constitution think, and think it would be appropriate for them to fuck off.

  19. close your eyes to the pretty obvious fact that the U.S number of rampage shootings/capita is unusually high.

    Yeah, and murder on an industrial scale perpetrated by the State in the twentieth century was significantly lower than some other countries we could mention.

  20. If we’re going to pick cherries.

    1. Well, speaking as a non-American but OECD member, all I can say is there are studies out there that show violent crimes in G7 countries (for example) are actually higher on a per capital basis than the USA.

      Cherry picking ‘mass shootings’ isn’t helpful. Let’s pick the ONE incidence that’s likely to shock people the most and media blitz it to death. Plane crashes is another event that shocks people yet I don’t see people advocating plane-control.

      Dying in a plane crash or mass shooting or in a terrorist attack are about equal in occurrences.

  21. my classmate’s half-sister makes $72 every hour on the internet. She has been without a job for eight months but last month her payment was $16159 just working on the internet for a few hours.Here’s the site to read more……


  22. “If we spent time looking for ways to offer more and better assistance to those suffering from mental illness”

    Careful what you ask for, libertarians! Why entrust something so personal as mental health to a body that can’t be trusted on the issue of gun control?

  23. mental health legislation make statists orgasm much harder and more fully than the thought of mere gun confiscation.

    when you can sanction individuals for thought or noncriminality then you are in fullblown fascism. the only obstacle to abusing a person is getting a pseudoscientist to make an expert opinion.

    ramping this bullshit up really makes all political opposition a thing of the past. you dont have to murder political opponents, just get an expert to testify about their mental health. then judge orders them sent to insane asylum to be medicated into a haze for the rest of their natural life.

    1. whenever i see it reported that someone has mental health issues (either as perp, victim, or whatever: like isiah thomas) gigantic red flags come up.

      if i was a ruthless tyrant in an ‘information age’ this is how i would dispose of ppl. there is no icky evidence and external analysis cant amount to anything.

  24. “Instead, lowering the threshold for mental health services, particularly by removing the requirement that an individual be an explicit threat to themselves or others before they receive help, can improve lives with zero rights violations.”

    You’re joking, right? I can think of few things MORE likely to violate people’s rights than making “help” available to peaceful folks, even if they are dazed and confused. I suggest you follow that little train of thought a bit farther down the track.

  25. Fumes came out of my ears as I read the Harvard study linked in the article. Because assholes like Piers Morgan and politicians across the continent that support that point of view have no excuse for preying on the ignorance of people with their bull shit.

  26. Being a threat to oneself or others is the threshold for the police to take you to a mental hospital. There, you can either voluntarily stay or you can be held. If you voluntarily stay, you will be treated and released with no judge involved and nothing on a background check. If you do not voluntarily stay, the hospital will strongly suggest that if you try to leave, a judge will become involved. Most people stay. But you still have nothing on your background check.

    After several of these trips, finally your psychiatrist decides you need more intensive treatment at the state mental hospital. In Tx non-psychotic illnesses are never sent there. There are very few beds, and more are cut every year. In no way do they have the funds to accommodate the psychotic, much less round up everyone the way people seem to believe. Anyway if you are fortunate enough to get a bed but still refuse to go voluntarily, then a judge becomes involved and can adjudicate you mentally ill which will show up on a background check.

    All of this takes several years. Most people are never seen by a judge, especially if this is their first psychotic episode. The problem is not that they can pass a background check. The problem is that people are horribly ill, suffering with voices and delusions, homeless, not eating, freezing, the list goes on. And most of society just ignores the whole thing,until something happens, and then the solution is background checks? How about actually helping people?

    1. this is like stating ‘the first stage is denial’, then asking someone if they are an alcoholic.

      it becomes a loaded question.

      same thing with ‘voluntarily’ staying. its a pretense. its basically blackmail. its a gigantic threat you have no ability to fight.

      why the pretense? because forcing ppl is so obviously evil it must be masked. this is the true essence of mental health interacting with the public. its nothing more than a power struggle between statists and ppls personal autonomy. who the fuck thinks another persons individual domain is the proper place for a battle? its not home court advantage, you are messing with another person on their turf, not a public byway.

  27. Mentally Ill people are by definition operating on a diminished mental capability and should not be expected to ask the right questions or seek out the right treatment or do this or that or deal with ridiculous government BS that a normal person can find daunting, for a condition that necessarily diminishes their capability to do so effectively.

    The US has for the past 40 years condemned thousands of people to abject poverty in the most horrible conditions because we decided the most important issue for a the mentally ill is to respect their rights and basically leave them to their own devices, goddamn everything else. It’s ill advised and especially cruel.

    I’m not calling for people to be rounded up and thrown into institutions but clearly the current system is an abject failure that should make everybody ashamed.

  28. Are we overlooking the “15 minutes of fame” element in these cases? In some cases (Cho at Va Tech, for example), they explicitly seek the media attention (Cho dropped off media packets prior to the shootings) and you have to think that’s a significant element to every one of these incidents. Where’s the dialogue about journalistic responsibility? Coverage of these things quickly outruns any “public service” benefit and turns into exploiting the human drama and trying to scoop every piece of minutia to make these guys international household names. There’s at least as much blood on the hands of CNN, etc. as Glock or Bushmaster. There’s an inconvenient truth for ya’

    1. BTW I mean that next-to-last sentence to be in defense of Glock, Bushmaster, et al.

    2. “Are we overlooking the “15 minutes of fame” element in these cases?”

      This may motivate some, but I don’t think it’s significant on all or most. I think we are also overlooking a 15 minutes of fun factor.

      Anyone who plays shoot em up video games can have a taste of the real thing if he’s prepared to lay down his life. What could be more exciting that shooting real people who really die? It sure beats the hell out of those phoney video games. I think it’s very plausible that some people want end their dreary, dispossessed lives and go out in a blaze of glory. The notoriety that CNN lends to the business is secondary.

      1. “I think it’s very plausible that some people want end their dreary, dispossessed lives and go out in a blaze of glory.”

        well, yeah, and its the media circus that provides the blaze of glory and the notoriety is what ultimately justifies the acts in their minds. I’d say the “fun” factor or emulating a video game is secondary to the need for attention, “I DO matter,” “You WILL pay attention to me,” “I’ll show you!” or “You should’ve listened to me!”. That is what builds and builds to the point that they “pull the trigger” literally and figuratively. The attention – from Columbine to Dorner to Cho to Alexis – is the payoff – not the “fun” of shooting someone.

  29. I won’t bother looking it up, because it really doesn’t matter, but I think Cho might have actually mailed his packages off between shootings.

  30. my buddy’s aunt makes $83/hour on the internet. She has been laid off for 5 months but last month her pay was $12861 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read Full Report

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