Mass Shootings

Disarming 'Individuals With Mental Illness' Would Affect a Quarter of the Population

Even a narrower approach, focused on purported risk, deprives many innocent people of their constitutional rights.


Susan Stocker/TNS/Newscom

"How do we make sure that individuals with mental illness do not touch a gun?" Florida Gov. Rick Scott asked yesterday, responding to the shooting that killed 17 people at a Broward County high school on Wednesday. The question, reminiscent of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre's demand for "an active national database of the mentally ill" after the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012, is woefully misbegotten, casting an unmanageably wide net into the wrong ocean.

Survey data indicate that half of all Americans will qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives, while a quarter of them do in any given year. Does Rick Scott or Wayne LaPierre think the government should strip 160 million people, or even just 80 million, of their Second Amendment rights because their mental illnesses might predispose them to commit mass murder?

Federal law currently stops far short of disarming all "individuals with mental illness," disqualifying from gun ownership only those who have undergone forcible psychiatric treatment, which is supposed to be based on a legal finding that they pose a danger to themselves or others. That rule is already unreasonably broad, since it means that someone who poses no threat to other people—someone who, say, is committed for treatment because his relatives think he might be suicidal—is not allowed to exercise his constitutional right to armed self-defense, even decades later. Yet the rule was not broad enough to stop Nikolas Cruz, the man charged with carrying out the attack on the Florida high school, from legally purchasing the rifle he used.

Cruz was treated for depression, and he was, according to former neighbors and fellow students, weird, troubled, angry, and sometimes scary. But he did not have a psychiatric record that disqualified him from buying a gun. So the question, for those who have given the matter a little more thought than Rick Scott did, is whether Cruz could have been thwarted by a policy that goes further than the current rule but not as far as disarming one-half or one-quarter of the population.

One possibility touted by gun control advocates is a law like the one California enacted in 2014, which allows a police officer or an "immediate family member" to seek a "gun violence restraining order" that prohibits an individual from possessing firearms and authorizes police to seize any he currently owns. Such an order can initially be obtained without any notice or adversarial process, and it can be extended based on standards that invite abuse, especially since "immediate family members" include not just spouses, children, siblings, and parents but also domestic partners, current or former roommates, step-parents, parents-in-law, grandparents, step-grandparents, step-siblings, siblings-in-law, stepchildren, children-in-law, and grandchildren.

If the applicant is a cop, he must have "reasonable cause" to believe "the subject of the petition poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury" to himself or someone else. If the applicant is a relative or roommate, he must show there is a "substantial likelihood" that "the subject of the petition poses a significant danger, in the near future, of personal injury" to himself or someone else. Either standard suffices to take away someone's right to arms for three weeks, after which he has an opportunity for a hearing where the petitioner has to show by "clear and convincing evidence" that he "poses a significant danger of personal injury" to himself or others. If the judge decides that test has been met, he issues a one-year restraining order than can be renewed annually.

In 2016 Washington voters approved a broader version of California's law. Initiative 1491 added "dating partners," baby mamas (or papas), former legal guardians, and all relatives, including aunts, uncles, and cousins, to the list of people who can seek what it calls an "extreme risk protection order." The Washington law also extended the deadline for a former roommate (which could be an ex-spouse or ex-lover) seeking an order from six months after moving out to a year, and it loosened the criteria for a one-year order (which requires showing "by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent poses a significant danger of causing personal injury to self or others").

Both laws leave a lot of leeway to unjustifiably deprive people of their constitutional rights, whether out of malice or out of sincere but mistaken concern. They give judges license to do what they probably will be inclined to do when confronted by a worried or frightened petitioner: err on the side of what seems to be caution by issuing the order, even if the respondent in all likelihood poses no real threat to himself or anyone else. And once someone loses his Second Amendment rights, that fact makes a decision about whether to lift an order or let it expire even easier. Why take the chance of letting a possibly dangerous person own guns? Hence someone can lose his right to keep and bear arms indefinitely based on little more than the misplaced fears of people close to him or the false testimony of a vengeful ex-girlfriend, brother-in-law, or third cousin.

Connecticut and Indiana have somewhat similar laws, although they do not allow such a long list of people to seek orders. In Connecticut, the process can be initiated by two police officers or one prosecutor, while Indiana allows a judge to grant a gun confiscation order based on the request of a single law enforcement officer.

Gun controllers argue that such a law could have prevented Cruz from buying or keeping a gun. "Florida should absolutely enact one ASAP," Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, told Reuters. "If one had been in place in this case, we do believe it would have had the potential to save lives."

But even if Florida had one of these laws, it's not clear that anyone would have sought an order to disarm Cruz. At the time of the attack, both of his adoptive parents were dead, and he was living with the family of a friend. The friend's parents knowingly allowed him to bring his rifle with him, although they stipulated that it be kept in a locked safe. If they were not alarmed enough by Cruz's behavior to stop him from keeping a rifle in his room, it seems quite unlikely that they would have gone to court in an effort to disarm him. And although Cruz's mother reportedly called police to help her deal with him on more than one occasion, those officers do not seem to have viewed him as a serious threat.

Neither California nor Washington requires a psychiatric diagnosis for a gun confiscation order, which suggests that the focus on mental illness may be misplaced. The real issue, according to these laws, is dangerousness. But it is asking a lot of judges to predict who will use guns to commit crimes when the vast majority of people whose cases they consider will not. Psychiatrists are terrible at that sort of prophecy, and it's doubtful that judges are any better.

NEXT: Here's the Time the EPA Used Duct Tape to Redact a FOIA Request

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  1. He was a victim of autism ‘treatment’ which teaches parents, “Don’t criticize” and tells kids, “Always apologize”. (And insults and bullies anyone who point this out.) This article has many examples of this behavior. So he took his training to its logical conclusion. Now, to think that these ‘experts’ should decide who should be allowed to have guns is preposterous. Fortunately Americans see right through it. This shooting will only entrench support for gun rights.

    1. I really wish we could see the number of people who have “every red flag” overall. My guess is that it’s less predictive of this kind of thing than people would like.

      1. Most people don’t understand conditional probabilities. P(A | B) != P(B | A)

        1. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life.

          This is what I do…

    2. Citation please for your claim that “autism ‘treatment’ … teaches parents, “Don’t criticize” and tells kids, “Always apologize”.”

      I work with many youth on the spectrum. And while I don’t know every fringe treatment that’s out there, I am not aware of any mainstream treatment protocol that matches that description.

      Now if you’re saying that parents shouldn’t criticize behavior the autist can’t control such as hyper-sensitivity to hair-combing, you’re right. And even mainstream kids are (and should be) taught to always apologize and take responsibility when they’ve done something wrong. But what you are implying sounds like something rather different.

      1. Last year at a kids ski park our toddler was almost killed by a 8 or 9 year old who went down a small hill we wasn’t supposed to completely uncontrollably.

        The mother came over a couple minutes later. I assumed to apologize. No, it was to demand that I apologize to her kid for saying “watch out for the baby” because he literally almost killed our baby. After looking at her shocked and asking why would I do that, she goes off that her child is special needs, how he is upset and needs to be apologized to in order to calm down and I HAVE to do this. When I say, no, and maybe you shouldn’t have sent your kid where we wasn’t supposed to, and oh btw you were 6 inches from killing our baby, she loses her f*cking mind on me. Complete insanity.

        I get special needs kids, have one in the extended family, and have worked with on occasion, but there are a ton of parents out there who think it gives them a right to put a fully protective bubble around their kids and that the world has to completely accommodate them, which in the end makes them unable to cope with just about anything.

        1. Sigh. Where is natural selection when we need it.

    3. First off, we right-wing, conservative Republicans (aka “libertarians”) who love and worship Don as much as I do must do all that we can to help this brilliant, moral and sexy man MAGA, which includes vociferously condemning these crazy mental cases (all of whom are FAKE NEWS-loving LIBTARDS), left-wing whites, Muslims, “Negroes” and other worthless “minorities,” who are responsible for 100% of all shootings here in our great country now known as “Donaldland.” We must also “eliminate” them. At the same time, we must also not have any kind of restrictions on guns, because they’d be a “slippery slope” that would lead to us law-abiding whites not having the ability to buy “rods” to eliminate those aforementioned liberal subhumans. By the way, “Dajjal,” all autistics suck, and should indeed always apologize for being retards; expect for cute little Barron of course. I love the name Barron, because it’s so dope and rad. Donald comes up with the best names and slogans. LOCK KILLARY UP AND BUILD THAT WALL!

  2. “an active national database of the mentally ill”

    Disgusting. And will do nothing more but push more and more people away from getting help, while likely having no impact on actual issues like this. But we sure have identified a fucking scapegoat, and it’s not a race this time so everyone can fuck them without feeling bad about it!!!

    1. It’s beyond a grotesque idea with potentially horrific consequences.

      Before you know it, people with migraines will be on the list.

    2. Yeah, but an entertaining rebuttal to progressives who eagerly want to ban guns but would foam at the mouth at the idea of making (mentally) handicapped people register on a public list. And likewise, a suggestion to restrict media coverage of nasty things like school shootings (which probably is one of the most important factors in promoting the next shooting).

      1. First off, PEOPLE KILL PEOPLE, NOT GUNS! Now, as a Trump-worshiping libertarian aka conservative Republican, and NRA member, I eagerly want retards (“intellectually disabled” subhumans) “eliminated,” but foam at the mouth at the idea of any type of restrictions affecting my God-given right to own a rod. As for restricting the press, which is composed of mostly LIBTARDS who lie with FAKE NEWS, “Earth Skeptic,” I love it! The media, expect of course for the great Fox News and a few others, should be eliminated, too. MAGA, LOCK KILLARY UP, DRAIN THE SWAMP AND BUILD THE WALL! I love Don’s neato slogans. Oh, and as a Tea Partier also, I say LIBERAL GUV’MENT HANDS OFF OF MY ENTITLEMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Just goes to show you the right is equally odious. The left wants to take our guns, the right wants a police state. Both sides are enemies of liberty.

    1. Oh, they both want a police state. But yeah, you’re right. They are both enemies of liberty.

      1. But the left only wants a police state until they purge all the wrongthinkers and create a utopia.

        1. In the Soviet Union, doubting that Communism Loves YOU (AKA, bitching and carping in a “perfect society”) was evidence of your “mental illness”. So you needed to be imprisoned in the shrink bin, of course…

          “The Compassionate Society” Version XYZX Plus ???.point Oh-ninety-nine in the USA will consist, “Ye DARE to Doubt that Government Almighty LOVES ye?!?! We MUST therapeutricize ye! Prepare for therapuke-ization, with a vengeance!!!”

          We must SING!!!!

          1. Sing it Loudly and Proudly!

            Scienfoology Song? GAWD = Government Almighty’s Wrath Delivers

            Government loves me, This I know,
            For the Government tells me so,
            Little ones to GAWD belong,
            We are weak, but GAWD is strong!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            My Nannies tell me so!

            GAWD does love me, yes indeed,
            Keeps me safe, and gives me feed,
            Shelters me from bad drugs and weed,
            And gives me all that I might need!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            My Nannies tell me so!

            DEA, CIA, KGB,
            Our protectors, they will be,
            FBI, TSA, and FDA,
            With us, astride us, in every way!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            Yes, Guv-Mint loves me!
            My Nannies tell me so!

  4. So if they outlawed guns and someone called in a tip that someone had one, I bet the FBI would be on that shit like a ton of maggots

  5. Does Rick Scott or Wayne LaPierre think the government should strip 160 million people, or even just 80 million, of their Second Amendment rights because their mental illnesses might predispose them to commit mass murder?

    Rick Scott probably isn’t aware of the numbers involved.
    Wayne LaPierre is deflecting.
    Dianne Feinstein thinks it doesn’t go far enough.

  6. I feel safer in America with crazies running around with guns than I would in Europe where literal Nazis are rising to power, or in Israel where Zionist ghouls wander the streets with machine guns – nose buried in an upside down prayer book and finger on the trigger. Yes I saw it when I was in Jerusalem this past summer.

    1. You sure? It sounds like you went to Ravenwood in Half Life 2.

      1. Well, first of all he’s talking about Bulgaria as if it’s all of Europe. Just over 7 million in a Union of 500 million, and it’s Bulgaria. It’s Bulgaria…

        Second of all, Zionist ghouls are likely better than Radical Islamic ghouls. Radical Islamic ghouls keep girls out of schools through violence, kill homosexuals, and do all sorts of other things that don’t happen in Israel. Hell, the Religious Police in Saudi Arabia kept girls in a burning building over chaste appearance. They did suffer hell for it but the girls still died.

        Finally, back on the real subject, yes, I don’t want paranoid schizophrenics getting guns. If the laws are written by Republicans, they’ll be short-sighted in how the law will be interpreted. If the laws are written by Democrats, they’ll be too expansive to begin with…

        As an aside, I’m still reeling from the removal of medical deductions in the tax law by “medical deductions are a once-in-a-lifetime deduction, wouldn’t you want your taxes lower every year?.” That from a Republican living in a bubble.

        1. As for your aside, the correct question is “wouldn’t most other people want their taxes lower every year?”

  7. It’s convenient how the left suddenly acts like discrimination against people with mental illnesses or Muslims is okay when the right we’re talking about stripping away is guns.

  8. You say that like it’s a bad thing

  9. Interesting coincidence: 25 percent of the population seems to coincide with the absolute floor of the DJT base. Fancy that.

  10. weird, troubled, angry, and sometimes scary.

    Sounds like Nancy Pelosi to me – – – – –

  11. In all likelihood Cruz, the shooter in Parkland, Florida, Nikolas Cruz, was on psychotropic drugs, such as Prozac, Ritalin, Zoloft, Xanax, etc. Such drugs have the side effects of violence and suicide – READ THE LABELS ON THE BOTTLES.

    These shootings have been taking place since the early 1980s. The vast majority of the time, the shooter has been found to be on psychotropic drugs. Over 5000 similar incidents have been documented where violence or suicide was done by one on psychotropic drugs.

    Yet Reason TV has promoted such drugs at least twice in its videos. LSD is such a psychotropic drug and Reason TV has used its presumed libertarian mantra to promote it from a libertarian stance. This is shameful of Reason TV to promote LSD, as such drugs are undoubtedly the cause of such shootings as took place in Parkland, Florida and other schools across the country.

    1. Nope. According to the latest news reports, he’s stopped all treatments about a year ago.

      I also call false on your claim that “the vast majority of the time, the shooter has been found to be on psychotropic drugs”. Neither the FBI crime statistics nor any other database that I can find supports that claim.

      1. According to the latest news reports, he’s stopped all treatments about a year ago.

        I call 100% BS. Only two valid possible sources for this info – suspect himself (via lawyer) and blood test. Blood test (if done) hasn’t had results yet. Lawyers have no interest in ‘truth’ to media but in advancing their clients legal defense. So assuming YOU aren’t spreading disinfo and there was actually a news report, that news report is irrelevant to any ‘truth’.

        Neither the FBI crime statistics nor any other database that I can find supports that claim.

        Nor will you find any such database. Pharma companies when sued in these cases ALWAYS settle and ALWAYS force nondisclosure/silence. The govt itself has never even tried to gather the info systematically. So the only source is a journalist media talking to relatives/etc in the first couple days after each event who blurt it out – and that too has never been further investigated systematically by any news organization.

        1. Argumentum ad ignorantiam. I’m sure an exhaustive study showing that the tens of millions of people who’ve been taking “psychotropic” drugs for the last half a century aren’t any more or less likely to become one of the 100 or so spree shooters we’ve seen in the same time frame would totally change your paranoid little mind though. That is if they could beam it to you through your tin foil hat.

          1. There’s plenty of studies and evidence showing the link between violence and psychotropics. Google homicidal akathisia or suicidal akathisia.

            What is completely missing is any study/data – in those specific cases of violence that garner huge amounts of media attention and public discussion. To any rational person that is a missing barking dog. To you, the reasonable explanation is that while those drugs may well induce one to kill their family, they couldn’t possibly induce one to kill lots of people at a school.

            Presumably because that medical consequence abhors publicity. It couldn’t possibly be because the pharma mfr abhors that sort of publicity.

  12. Such legislation would decimate the NRAs membership.

    1. You mean only 1/10 pf NRA members are mentally ill, compared to 1/4 of the general population? Sounds plausible.

      1. I’m guessing that how you came up with the 10% figure is not going to be figured out.

        1. Look up the meaning of the word, decimate.

  13. The problem with mental illness and guns is that, like everything else in our society, when you talk about one thing, people want to argue about something else. If you propose taking guns away because of serious mental illness like schizophrenia with hallucinations of violence or uncontrolled bi-polar disease, people say you shouldn’t take them away because of mild depression. If you have spent much time around people with *serious* mental illness, you know their brains aren’t working right and their perception of reality is seriously skewed vs. typical people. If they require anti-psychotic medications (not mild tranquilizers or anti-depressants), they shouldn’t be dealing with guns. If they’ve been hospitalized for mental problems more than once in recent years or have a history of skipping their meds, they shouldn’t have guns. If they are suicidal because of depression, they shouldn’t have guns. If their illness expresses itself with violence, they shouldn’t have guns. If the only reason they aren’t in a mental hospital is a lack of beds, they should be evaluated carefully and probably shouldn’t have guns.

    Some mental conditions don’t really have a cure, only some control with medications. Others are transitory and go away over time with treatment. People who have their firearms taken away because of mental illness should be re-evaluated periodically, and should have the right to request a re-evaluation, perhaps every 3 years or so.

    1. “Mental illness” existed in 1789. It’s not an escape clause for the 2nd Amendment. When you give someone the power to arbitrarily remove your constitutional rights because of a subjective diagnosis don’t be too surprised when you eventually find yourself diagnosed “mentally ill” and carted off if you stray too far from the dominant political reservation.

      Or we could just go back to sterilizing the mentally ill and using them for human experiments. Your call.

      1. And mental illness existed in 10,000 BC. Chances are that the unfortunate nut-job would quickly do himself in, or his less-than-enlightened comrades might hasten his departure.

        As long as people think that everyone is “worthy” and deserves a “full, productive life” the nutjobs will cause grief way beyond their numbers. So we don’t have to sterilze them, but we also don’t have to let them run around among us.

      2. ” It’s not an escape clause for the 2nd Amendment.”

        However, originally the Bill of Rights only protected these enumerated rights from federal infringement. States were still permitted to infringe these rights….see Barron v. Baltimore (1833)…and U.S. v. Cruikshank (1876) which specifically said that the 1A and 2A did not apply to state governments. Even U.S. v. Miller (1934) involved a federal law that criminalized sawed-off shotguns. So, the second amendment did not get “incorporated” officially until Heller (2008). Second, rights can certainly be curtailed if there is a real fear for public safety…thus no yelling fire in a crowded theater….and in this case, no giving a firearm to someone who is a likely threat to themselves or others. It’s obviously a tricky issues as to who decides and on what grounds…and is it safe to allow someone controlling symptoms through narcotics to have guns? But we have to avoid the conclusion that the Constitutional framers would have unilaterally sided with gun ownership for crazy people. Add in the nature of guns having significantly changed since 1791 (when the 2A was ratified) as has the attendant public safety concerns…..certainly I agree that the 2A and its inherent right to self defense should not be extinguished because of naked emotionalism….but reasonable restrictions do not do that.

        1. “…thus no yelling fire in a crowded theater…”
          Using this as an argument signifies that you have no understanding of 1A law.
          You’ve got some other suspect stuff I can spot without having to look anything up but I’m not wasting the energy to address it all.

          1. Justice Holmes in Schenck v. United States: “The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic.” If your gripe is that I left off “falsely”…I thought it was implied as no one ever questions crying fire when there is an actual fire. I’m sure you have some other great points……it’s too bad you don’t have enough energy to honestly engage. Maybe you need more fiber in your diet.

    2. Medicine is based on scientific research and data. If you want to ban delusional people from having guns, then you need an objective definition of a delusion. Why treat the American who believes Jesus rose from the dead differently from the American who believes his grandmother rose from the dead? Are you ready to say the people who believe in Jesus’s resurrection should not be allowed to own guns?

  14. I believe you could satisfy requirements of the Patriot Act by a law or executive order affirming that school shooters are lone wolf U.S. terrorists. Identification of these mentally deranged people prior to any violent action can be very similar to the way that the NSA identifies potential terrorists for the Department of Homeland Security.

    There are extant NSA programs that can sweep up communications in both text, phone conversations and images that would raise an alarm for anyone who falls within a specific set of parameters that refer to school shootings.
    Most of these school shooting nutcases would make the NSA job easy because they are addicted to advertising their identifying obsessions on social media

    Immediately upon identification of an individual whose communications raise that red flag, they would be subject to analysis and possible future action, including contact and mental health evaluation. Trying to figure out the next step after identification and evaluation is a slippery slope for libertarians, but there are far fewer individuals who might attempt a school shooting than the anti- libertarian harassment of the millions of innocent owners of private firearms under some gun control proposal.

    It is a drastic solution to what is, in reality, a relatively rare occurrence, but with a major social impact.

    1. Are you really encouraging Stasi tactics?

    2. The current trend is to send recreational drug users to rehab instead of jail. Rehabilitation occurs in psych wards where the drug users talk to psychiatrists who make notes in their medical records. Drug addiction is listed as a mental illness. Don’t worry those medical records are secure just like our private emails. Be careful what you say when you hang out with anyone who might end up in a drug rehab program.

  15. IMO the original militia idea could help this. Both Lanza and this guy and prob many other pre-violent teen males have fantasies about guns and military. But in today’s individualist (and feminized) age, they are essentially left alone (or within a circle of family who may or may not be able to see anything) to ‘work things out’ (usually by talking or sharing or getting drugged or videogames). No surprise that doesn’t work.

    An organized well-regulated militia musters and drills and works together locally – with officers who can probably be trained to spot whether one of these guys is so loopy that they can’t be trusted with a weapon around his own company. These aren’t gonna be groups that are scared of guns. Nor do they need to opine on someone’s ‘mental illness’. Just – is this guy a menace even with a group that is working together and all are armed. That seems to me a very reasonable basis for both steering him towards militia responsibilities that don’t involve guns and deny the ability to get a gun outside strictly controlled target shooting.

    Some of these kids would eventually work through their anger/violence issues as they get thru their 20’s (when such militia musters would end). Other wouldn’t – but mental health professionals – working with that militia – figure out whether they are more permanently damaged and dangerous – and get the courts to deny that 2A right. Basically gun ownership would be a maturity age not pure chronology age

    1. There is no love, no support for young males. The problem can’t be that we need to give men a little more attention and pull back on trying to shoehorn them into feminized behavior. Men are evil and need to be conditioned. For the girls’ sake.

  16. Disarming a quarter of the population sounds like a great idea to me. Only in America can crazy people and those on terrorist watch lists buy guns.

    1. So you’re okay if we use that same standard to take away other fundamental rights? How about free speech? Or the right to vote? You don’t see any potential for abuse by government bureaucrats from such a policy?

    2. People are added to watch lists without any due process, and not most people with a mental illness are neither crazy nor dangerous. If you don’t even care about what kind of mental illness someone has, then you’re lying when you say your primary concern is safety.

    3. Yeah fascists and Nazis like you tend to like that sort of thing. Makes it easier to stock the train cars.

  17. Using mental illness as an excuse to revoke people’s constitutional right is ripe for an abuse of power and does no one any favors. How about CURING mental illness instead. Let’s discuss psychology for fuck’s sake instead of labeling people with diagnoses and prescribing drug treatments to support the pharmaceutical industry.

    1. Sure! Let’s deal with some of the unfortunate realities, though. Some mental illnesses are just not curable–certainly not ethically so–and some others may in fact be more accurately described as neurological diseases which happen to primarily display with psychiatric symptoms. (Schizophrenia actually would fall into the second, to the point that about the only reason I can think of that it’s not be moved over is inertia.)

      My experience is that insurance companies tend to like the ‘medicate and forget’ approach to treatment–therapy is expensive, and you actually do have to make sure you get a good match…which also, interestingly enough, has more to do with how much success is had than how much they get paid. The stats tend to indicate–especially when they break down things by severity–that therapy alone does a damn good job with most things until you hit the ‘severe’ forms, and with the severe forms you add medication to therapy, not just give them shut-up pills.

      And bottom line is, that is what the feeling you get is when all you get is just a bottle of pills from your GP…

  18. A 1/4 of the population?
    I didn’t know there were that many Libertarians.

  19. Having looked through a glossary of definitions for mental illnesses, I can say with great confidence that this article is flat out wrong. There are enough mental illnesses to cover everyone (some with multiple “disorders”). Not a quarter of the population; ALL of the population. If one went back to the 1970’s, one could include every LGBTQ person as “mentally Ill” as well. This isn’t a matter of science, but rather arbitrary judgements on what behavior is to be stigmatized as an illness.

  20. Disarming ‘Individuals With Mental Illness’ Would Affect a Quarter of the Population

    I think the gun grabbers consider that a feature.

  21. Some one should let Jacob Sullum know that the revised Koch constitution is just fine with gun control. Cato got the memo a few years ago and the rest of the Reason staff is certainly on board.

  22. I have always argued that the Second Amendment should be strongly linked to the right to vote. After all, voting for the wrong people can be every bit as bad for society as random shootings. If you want to steal from others, voting for someone who will simply redistribute their wealth to you.

    If you want to take away firearms from any segment of the population, take away ballots as well! This rule works in the property rights arena on several levels.

    1. Huh. You wrote the comment I’ve been thinking about for a couple days now….

  23. Prohibiting individuals with diagnosed behavioral disorders from owning guns represents a couple of category confusions, as the article here suggests, but is also a kind of backwards approach. The majority of school shooters have several features in common: they are young males who have reported feelings of social isolation, anger, resentment, and academic struggle. Since there are many more such young men than there are school shooters, critics have rightly pointed out that it would ridiculous to ban every one of them from owning a gun, simply to stop the one in a million who might move on to actual violence. But better identification, and providing more effective counseling to such young men might get more directly to the real problem, and address it closer to the cause. After all, why should any young person who suffers from such feelings not have access to forms of social support, not merely because it might deter violence at some point in their future, but because it would better position them for success, lower rates of subsequent mental illness, etc.?

    1. “feelings of social isolation, anger, resentment, and academic struggle” are stoked by the MSM obsession with condemnation of normal aggressive male behaviors, eg competition, rough-housing, hazing. Boys will be boys can be a more acceptable outlet for these tendencies, short of violence of course.

      The criminalization of masculinity is a contributor.

    2. “feelings of social isolation, anger, resentment, and academic struggle” are stoked by the MSM obsession with condemnation of normal aggressive male behaviors, eg competition, rough-housing, hazing. Boys will be boys can be a more acceptable outlet for these tendencies, short of violence of course.

      The criminalization of masculinity is a contributor.

  24. You can’t rent a car until you are 25. Raise the age for gun purchase to 25.

    1. Hey, let’s raise the free speech age to 25 as well, and the age at which you can expect due process, and the age at which you can be free from cruel and unusual punishment. I mean, if we’re going to start abrogating fundamental rights, why stop there?

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  26. Of course, liberals want to disarm 100% of the (non-government) population, so they’ll just call it a good start.

  27. I bet it would be more than 25% of the population. Logistically, it would be a nightmare. Mental health providers require a court order before releasing mental health information. Law would have to be changed to require providers (not just hospitals) to release diagnoses and names, maybe SS numbers, of their patients. Many, if not most, of psychiatrists’ and psychologists’ patients are not being seen for any diagnosis that indicates violent behavior to self or others. If a patient would actually threaten someone by name to the provider, the patient is supposed to be reported to law enforcement as a danger to others. Threatening suicide is not reportable. Then, all these records would have to be put in a big database accessible to authorities. Think such a thing could be hacked? Oh, well, we don’t have privacy anyhow. When I bought a gun, the background question was whether I had been HOSPITALIZED for a mental diagnosis. I hadn’t been, so I bought my gun. Same thing with the guy who shot up the school and the one who bought all the guns in Nevada and shot up the concert.

    1. That Mandalay shooter Steven Paddock, the one who supposedly bought several houses with slot machine winnings, has government agent written all over his act. Has anyone filed a FOIA request to have a look at his tax returns?

  28. To only be fair, ALL elected officials should have to undergo an annual mental evaluation. Especially Congress. Only for them it should be quarterly.

    1. Quarterly—-? 4 imes an hour?

      1. Wouldn’t the Reagan-Bush law forcing VA employees to piss in a Dixie cup or be fored apply to Congress?

  29. Oh, yes, I forgot something. Perhaps it would only be required to report people under psychiatric care for diagnoses that evidenced violence. But, then, somebody has to decide what constitutes violence and how bad it would be. No, I think everybody would have to be reported whether they had such a diagnosis or not because the mental health profession hasn’t had a stellar record in predicting who might get violent in the future.

    Oh, yes, I forgot something. Perhaps it would only be required to report people under psychiatric care for diagnoses that evidenced violence. But, then, somebody has to decide what constitutes violence and how bad it would be. No, I think everybody would have to be reported whether they had such a diagnosis or not because the mental health profession hasn’t had a stellar record in predicting who might get violent in the future.

  31. The DSM includes cross-dressing as a mental illness, and Hillary Clinton likes to wear pants. I guess Democrats don’t want her near nuclear weapons.

    1. I do not want her econazi policies anywhere near nuclear power stations for the same reason I do not want Robert Dear or his prohibitionist abettors near a Planned Parenthood clinic.

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  33. You have to stop believing these surveys done by nine year olds.

  34. This article is ridiculous—certain criteria for tendency for violence would eliminate 98% of who Sullum references—his reasoning goes to the far side of Extreme.

    New Laws in 5 states makes it possible for locals to refuse firearms to those who act in such a way as to suspect violence, it involves associates, family, local police, and courts……..thereby being reasonable, and protective of civil rights.

    And Sullum is rationally syndicated? OH!—Nationally—my bad!

  35. Mental illness is ill (bad) because it threatens life, like Yellow Fever or rabies. By the figures generated by the folks who count votes, fully 96% of registered voters choose to sanction the initiation of force. Would you prefer to have those people buying guns or the 3.28% who vote against the initiation of force?

  36. How many family members have used that California law to restrain police personnel after their shooting pets or unarmed humans? If the answer is none, perhaps the thing is either a dead letter or very selectively enforced.

  37. This type of move will only further fracture the country. The simple truth is we have one side who thinks no one should own a gun and anyone who does is already crazy. We are called gun nuts, lunatics and any other label they can dream up. They paint us as people who cannot wait to shoot others, totally devoid of any morality or humanity. As long as the gun control crowd looks on gun owners this way, there will never be any progress on any aspect of the issue.

  38. Half of all americans will have a psychiatric evaluation? B. S. Fake News.

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