February 9, 2013

"There’s a new stigma in town: guns + mental illness = violence."

Says Scott Bryant-Comstock, president of the Children’s Mental Health Network, "And it should break the hearts of advocates nationwide."

Quoted in the Capital Times (a Wisconsin newspaper) under the headline "Some say efforts to boost mental health treatment to combat gun violence are misguided." Also quoted, Jeri Bonavia, director of the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort:
"We know that there are some problems with getting mental health records into the background check system, and I think that needs to be addressed," she says. "But it can’t be that we turn our attention just to mental health issues related to gun violence because people suffering from mental illness make up a very small percentage of the perpetrators of gun violence."....
A poll this week by Quinnipiac University shows that more than 90 percent of American voters support background checks for all gun buyers, which would close the so-called gun show loophole. And that's where Bonavia says Wisconsin should be focusing its effort. Her group is currently in the midst of a petition drive to urge Walker to propose background checks. 
So first Bonavia implies that we ought to make policy based on the percentages. But then she says, make a pervasive law that applies to everyone, without mentioning the very small percentage of perpetrators of gun violence within the truly vast category of Americans who buy guns. And by the way, the category "gun violence" lumps things together. Gun control has become a hot issue because of a few massacres. If you make a category out of the set of incidents that has inflamed present-day opinion, people suffering from mental illness seem to be 100% of the perpetrators! You only get your very small percentage if you throw in other types of incidents, such as gangsters wiping each other out. Wake me up when 90% of Americans want to do something about that. And explain to me how background checks have any curative power over that problem.

The appeal to statistics and reason falls flat when you shape it to suit the policy you already want.
"Only 4 to 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness," Dilip Jeste, the president of the [American Psychiatric Association], says in a statement. "About one quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes."
See what I mean? Questions for Dr. Jeste: 1. What percentage of school shootings are committed by persons with mental illness? 2. If we cut the category "violent crimes" down to massacre-type shootings where the motive isn't robbery and the victim isn't someone with whom the shooter has a personal dispute, what percentage of those crimes are committed by persons with mental illness? 3. If we break the category "mental disorder" into subparts, so that depression and schizophrenia aren't lumped together, is there any category within which you cannot say that only very small percentage will ever commit violent crimes? 4. In your effort to shield the mentally ill from unnecessary stigma, are you giving cover to a set of persons who could and should be identified as dangerous? 5. What are the interests of the psychiatric profession that could affect whether you are giving truly honest answers to all of these questions, including this one?

37 comments:

rhhardin said...

Psychiatrist Adolf Guggenbuhl-Craig, in _From the Wrong Side: a paradoxical approach to psychology_ has a chapter "The Blessings of Violence," citing its many benefits.

"Most of us assume that violence is clearly wrong; but is it really?"

Carol said...

6. What percentage of mass shootings were perpetrated by people who were taking psychotropic drugs or who recently went off same?

Mitchell the Bat said...

I wouldn't expect much sense from an advocate for the mentally ill.

Paco Wové said...

Conversely, "some say efforts to restrict guns to combat crazy-person violence are misguided". Takes all kinds, you know.

pm317 said...

"But it can’t be that we turn our attention just to mental health issues related to gun violence because people suffering from mental illness make up a very small percentage of the perpetrators of gun violence.".

Now, about that hiding cop killer in CA who worships Obama and that fact being ignored assiduously by the lefty college drop out media, how do we categorize him?

Is he insane or just a lefty?

Lucien said...

Lots of folks don't want to accept the idea that keeping and bearing arms is a constitutional right. The whole point of a right is that you don't have to ask the government for permission before exercising it.

So ask the question: "Does suffering from mental illness deprive one of any rights protected by the Constitution?"

Lucien said...

Lots of folks don't want to accept the idea that keeping and bearing arms is a constitutional right. The whole point of a right is that you don't have to ask the government for permission before exercising it.

So ask the question: "Does suffering from mental illness deprive one of any rights protected by the Constitution?"

David said...

" What are the interests of the psychiatric profession that could affect whether you are giving truly honest answers to all of these questions, including this one?"

First, I always ask "are they stupid?" That is often the main cause of bad advice.

The Drill SGT said...

Gun violence is perpetrated predominately by young male minorities. Any attempt to reduce it is by default and impact, "racist!!"

Obamaguns. I want an Obamagun. We're drawing down the Army. Make mine an M-60. I don't need one of those new plastic toy guns, you know, M-16's...

The Drill SGT said...

Oh, and some Obamabullets that the Feds are buying...

an M-60 is a bullet hog. It should be legal though, it doesn't have a 30 round assault clip :)

Calypso Facto said...

Don't over think it, that's just a knee-jerk reaction from the Cap Times, in opposition to anything proposed by Gov. Walker.

Journal Sentinel: "In the aftermath of mass shootings in Wisconsin and elsewhere nationally, Gov. Scott Walker Wednesday proposed nearly $29 million more in state money for treating mental illness.
OUR VIEW Gov. Scott Walker's proposal offers hope for those suffering from mental illness"

Cap Times: "If Walker's for it, then we have to oppose it! Because dissent is patriotic again (but only in states with Republican governors)."

garage mahal said...

I'm surprised we haven't heard more big government GOP ideas. Like drug testing. Really, if government can bust unions, why can't government bust gun violence?

SGT Ted said...

We need a "guilty but insane" legal category.

We also need a "we're only letting you out as long as you take your meds and if you quit them in defiance of your doctor, we're going to lock you back up." type of rule.

Note he doesn't address the actual dangerously mentally ill. He would rather people die than acknowlege that some of them can be immensely dangerous and need to be locked up.

SGT Ted said...

Maybe if Democrats weren't in charge of Big Cities, gun violence could be addressed with some good results.

The Drill SGT said...

What we need are serious, no plea bargain, penalties for crimes committed with guns

ken in sc said...

To make universal background checks work would require everyone who already owns guns to register them. This is not practical. There are five guns in my house now and only two of them were bought in a store where I had to fill out paper work on them. I used to own two hand guns that my idiot teenage son lost in the woods. He thought he was about to be arrested for smoking pot and threw them in the woods. Anyone could have those guns now.

It's going to take a very heavy handed intrusion and coercion to make me register all the guns I own or have owned. I would wrap them in a cosmoline covering and bury them first. Millions of Americans would resist any such effort.

This is not to mention all the people who take antidepressants and anti-anxiety medication who would have to be evaluated as to whether they should pass a background check.

slumber_j said...

And here I thought guns + LAPD = violence...

http://www.dailynews.com/news/ci_22544264/police-suspecting-christopher-dorners-arrival-shoot-3-innocent?source=most_viewed

Lipperman said...

It appears these mental health professionals are in denial.

Borepatch said...

6. (addressed to Prof. Althouse) Is there a legitimate government interest in sending me to the Federal Penitentiary if I buy my Uncle's hunting rifle from him? Assume that I am not a prohibited person.

Because this is what is being proposed.

edutcher said...

How about overturning some of those idiotic court decisions inspired by ACLU lawsuits and getting some of the nuts committed before they kill people?

I know, too rational.

The Drill SGT said...

Gun violence is perpetrated predominately by young male minorities. Any attempt to reduce it is by default and impact, "racist!!"

Obamaguns. I want an Obamagun. We're drawing down the Army. Make mine an M-60. I don't need one of those new plastic toy guns, you know, M-16's...


Maybe they'll make you Grand Imperial Kleagle of Choomie's new Civilian Defense Corpse.

wyo sis said...

Mental Health Professionals will soon join Climate Scientists in the pantheon of meaningless credentials.

edutcher said...

PS You just know Choom's Civilian Defense Corpse will be like Star Trek, where everybody is an officer.

AllenS said...

I went to Fleet Farm in Hudson, WI, yesterday, and while there I walked past the guns and ammo area. There are only about 1/3 of the pistols they have for sale stocked. Most ammo for handguns and rifles are sold out, or they have been unable to replace them. Still lots of shot guns shells in stock.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

"About one half of all Americans have a firearm in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes."

Fixed it for you.

virgil xenophon said...

SGT Ted & The Drill Sgt--are you two sure you're not my long-lost blood-brothers? :)

And of course borepatch zeros in on the totally inane part of the proposed changes (btw I don't visit your site Waay often enough--I Luuuved your photoshopped pic of demonstrated sea-level rise to the original level of that old castle loading portal in Scotland..)

And Lucian hits THE central underlying fundamental problem involved about rational thought on this subj..

virgil xenophon said...

PS: And of course edutcher and Ann in her original post both hit on another base-line fundamental problem we're dealing with here: foolish expectations of rationality, logic and valid data when addressing this topic..

virgil xenophon said...

Man, people are on fire today! wyo sis scores a shack!! (Bulls-eye in AF fighter-pilot lingo)

The Drill SGT said...

edutcher said...Maybe they'll make you Grand Imperial Kleagle of Choomie's new Civilian Defense Corpse.

I'm white and a combat vet, that alone disqualifies me for membership in the CDC.

Then add in my voter registration and tax bracket. I'm a candidate for the camps :)



edutcher said...

You and me both.

tiger said...

FTAA: '"Only 4 to 5 percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness," Dilip Jeste, the president of the [American Psychiatric Association], says in a statement'

This is actually bullshait because ANY ONE with half a brain would tell you that if you are violent and/or using guns to commit violence you are meatally unbalanced to a greater degree than people who DON'T use violence.

obakasan said...

Criminals have fairly well-defined motivations for committing gun crimes which make their actions largely predictable and, although it may be prohibitively expensive, preventable. But these methods do not work at all on the mentally ill who have poorly understood and unpredictable motivations. Using mental health records to identify them and separate them from guns is far from a perfect solution, but right now it's the only one we've got.

Kirk Parker said...

No, great effort, but that's a swing-and-a-miss for Wyo Sis!

Why? Because Mental Health Pros (or at least some large subsets of them) are already there, long before there even was such a thing as "Climate Scientist".

SH said...

Mitchell the Bat said...
"I wouldn't expect much sense from an advocate for the mentally ill."

Not much of an advocate if you ask me. Their argument seemed to be, don't just limit gun rights to people seeking mental health help. Limit them for everyone!

I'll do a few better, just because someone is taking (or has taken) an anti-depressant is not a good enough reason to deny them their 2 amendment rights. I'd encourage pro 2A people to not throw them under the bus as an easy out.

JustOneMinute said...

Do keep in mind - gun control advocates often include suicides in their "gun violence" statistics, citing 30,000 deaths per year.

That is roughly 19,000 suicides and 11,000 firearm homicides.

yet (I noticed that at the NY Times) when the subject turns to the intersection of mental health and gun violence, all the focus is on homicides.

My guess is that some or many of those 19,000 suicides include people with symptoms of mental illness (e.g., depression), and keeping guns our of their hands might be a good idea.

Of course, here in Prozac Nation that might disqualify a lot of people.

FWIW - I have recently learned of research indicating that the suicidal impulse is often transitory. People without access to a reliable means of self-exit either fail in the attempt or don't even try. But for people with access to guns, that becomes their last, lethal decision.

narciso said...

Something to keep in mind about Dr. Bonavia;


http://extranosalley.com/?p=32586

narciso said...

When everything is a hammer;

http://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vprp/pdf/IGS/IGScoverweb.pdf

narciso said...

Besides that obvious conflict of interest, what is the common element about Dylan, Klebold, the Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook shooters, it's not guns, it's some kind of mental illness, so why do they deny it.