April 10, 2016

What's the strong gun-rights position on whether some very seriously mentally ill persons can be forbidden to bear arms?

I loved this segment of Part 2 of the Libertarian debate (which was on TV last Friday).



Watch Gary Johnson — the one who's been a state governor — concede — in a light whiff of pragmatism — that we should "be open to a debate and discussion" on the subject. He immediately — perhaps prompted by the boos from the audience — says that he has never seen "any argument" that would prevent the "mentally ill" category from being applied to "people like me.... because I'm gonna fail some sort of litmus test."

The mere entertainment of the possibility of a limit on gun possession lights Austin Petersen on fire: "Don't you think that King George would have declared the colonists to be 'mentally ill'?" That gets a big cheer from the audience — "Yeah!!!" "It's the government that sets the standards. The government has no right to take away our form of self-defense. It is an individual right to bear arms." Petersen gets rolling and ends up on: "The Second Amendment was not for hunting. The Second Amendment was to shoot at tyrants if the government becomes tyrannical."

That gets whoops and cheers from the audience, and we see Johnson scanning the crowd as if he's thinking: Come on, Gary, you are the non-demagogue here, you are a normal candidate, you are a genuine, mainstream alternative to the demagogues of the Republican and Democratic parties.

John McAfee — who has a fantastically resonant voice — follows on: It's the government who'd get to say who is insane. He segues into concern about denying gun rights to felons — especially those who've (unjustly) served time for marijuana possession. Petersen breaks in to demand that "the Governor" (i.e., Johnson) state a position on background checks. Now — this is at 16:52 — Johnson becomes extremely animated — agitated — and Petersen — hilariously — interrupts to say: "Take it easy. Don't act so crazy or we might take your guns, Governor."

Petersen keeps pushing — "Who do you think is mentally unstable?" Johnson, with controlled annoyance, says: "Somebody that is mentally unstable." Petersen asks how he would determine that, and Johnson says: "I find it — are you listening? — I find it difficult to be able to actually come up with a piece of legislation that would address that. That's what I said."

ADDED: While I'm putting this post together, studying the video, I comment that Austin Petersen looks like Og Oggilby (a character in "The Bank Dick" played by Grady Sutton). You can see him in a video clip, here, at 2:05. Still:



Meade sets out to show me how wrong I am to read Austin Petersen that way. He floods me with pictures of an Austin Petersen and assures me it's the same guy. I become — depending on how you define the term — mentally unstable.

ALSO: Here's how I answer the question "Who do you think is mentally unstable?":

77 comments:

Michael K said...

Big L Libertarians do not appeal to me and this is one of the reasons.

Mostly it's foreign policy and security.

Humperdink said...

Attacks on the second amendment while continue by the commie-pinko lefties until it is completely dismantled. Taxing bullets, phony mental health issues, the list will grow.

A friend of mine has marital issues. Wife was cheating. He catches her. She files for divorce and gets a PFA against him to get him out of the house. No evidence is presented. None. No marks, no bruises, no photos, no visits from the police, no 911 calls. Result? He has to turn is guns in to the sheriff.

His lawyer says there is no chance he would win at a hearing. The two judges in our county always side with perceived aggrieved female.

All of this will end when the divorce is finalized. It's just a tactic.

PS: He is a firearms/self-defense instructor.

Laslo Spatula said...

"What's the strong gun-rights position on whether some very seriously mentally ill persons can be forbidden to bear arms?"

Adding "seriously" to this question is its own can of worms.

It implies that there can be a line drawn that encircles only the ones we would include in retrospect of a crime.

This is making me paranoid.

I am Laslo.

Bob Ellison said...

That is indeed a good voice.

Mark said...

Some might argue that it is silly to suggest that people should be declared mentally ill for their political positions, but we have already seen that happen in history, with communist countries doing exactly that.

Laslo Spatula said...

The Romans would've made it illegal for Jesus to have a gun.

Do we really want to go there?

I am Laslo.

Gahrie said...

If we were still locking the mentally unstable up, this wouldn't be a problem.

Michael K said...

"If we were still locking the mentally unstable up, this wouldn't be a problem."

I would modify this to recommend locking up psychotics and monitoring those who are allowed out to be certain they take their medicine but libertarians are opposed. "The right to be crazy."

And of course live in the street.

Bruce Hayden said...

I think that mental illness needs to be addressed. The gun rights crew has been pushing back whenever there is a mass killing that the problem isn't the gun laws on the books, but rather, that the mentally ill were deinstitutionalized. And, many of them were mentally questionable. They can't go on now and claim that the mentally unstable should not be kept from having guns. Ok - maybe the libertarians can argue this, but a major party candidate cannot.

Probably much easier to be a gun grabber like Obama or Hillary, where you can argue that guns in the hands of the public makes totalitarian control of the masses that much more difficult. But, much harder for those who are serious on this subject.

I am bothered that the state might get the power to decide who is mentally unstable, or, rather, who to deprive of their 2nd Amdt. rights on those grounds. What keeps the state from locking up whomever they want, and to define anyone who complains about such, or who resists the state, as being mentally unstable. I would have thought at one time that I was paranoid there, but then Obama was elected, and has been able to shift the federal govt. quite a ways from being a national of laws to being a nation of people, where the laws are arbitrarily applied by the rich and powerful to their own advantage. And, yes, that is probably part of where the libertarian candidates are coming from.

dbp said...

I think Libertarians are right to worry about government taking away the right to bear arms for flimsy reasons: Hillary proposed barring people on the "no fly list" from possessing fire-arms. There does not appear to be any sort of transparent process for getting onto or off of the list. Various states have made or tried to make people with restraining orders give up their guns.

MayBee said...

Hillary proposed barring people on the "no fly list" from possessing fire-arms.

That was a big push from Obama for a while, too. Whatever happened to that?

MayBee said...

Other things that have gone away: Making fun of people for thinking ISIS guys might hide among "refugees".

Terry said...

Here is a list of reasons my state (HI) will deny an individual a firearm permit (long gun or handgun):
Ineligibility
Persons are not eligible to own or possess a firearm or ammunition if:

They are a fugitive from justice.
They are under indictment, have waived indictment or have been bound over to the circuit court for a felony, any crime of violence or illegal sale of any drug.
Have been convicted of a felony, any crime of violence or illegal sale of any drug.
Are or have been under treatment or counseling for addiction to or abuse of any dangerous, harmful or detrimental drug or alcohol.
Have been acquitted of a crime on the grounds of mental disease or mental disorder.
Have been diagnosed as having a significant behavioral, emotional or mental disorder or for treatment for organic brain syndromes.
Are younger than 25 and have been adjudicated by the family court to have committed a felony, two or more crimes of violence or an illegal sale of any drug.
Have been restrained by court order from contacting, threatening or physically abusing another person.
http://www.hawaiipolice.com/services/firearm-registration

MayBee said...

In the case of the Lanzas, you'd have to deny the right of a mentally ill person's family member or household member to possess a gun. After all, Adam Lanza killed his mother and used her guys.

Birkel said...

The Left will pursue any subterfuge available to achieve its preferred ends. Those ends are total power invested in the federal government and a people unable to resist.

The Left makes no argument in good faith.

traditionalguy said...

The mentally unstable steal guns or bring knives. That is why mentally stable people need guns.

But a willful pretense that outlawing guns makes anyone safe is insanity.

jj121957 said...

I hope no one is proposing to take guns away from cat owners.

Laslo Spatula said...

Lanza's photo: every yearbook has dozens of photos like that.

Only in hindsight do we separate the crazed from the simply goofy.

I am Laslo.

Michael K said...

"I am bothered that the state might get the power to decide who is mentally unstable"

Yes, it used to be easier when people had more trust in government but that is gone forever.

Progress in neuroscience might give us a more reproducible test for psychosis. We had a patient one time, when my students were interviewing patients on a ward with psychotics, who was such a well organized paranoid schizophrenic that the family had to put a letter in the chart explaining that his story was all delusion.

Laslo Spatula said...

RE: "Lanza's photo: every yearbook has dozens of photos like that."

Find the obvious killer in these photos.

I am Laslo.

Terry said...

In my state, they don't allow people who have made threats against family members or who have drug or alcohol problems to have guns.
Guess who is more likely to have threatened a family member or have alcohol or drug problems than the general public?
That's right, the cops.
The cop union got them a carve-out.

Laslo Spatula said...

Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill:

That guy is staring at my ass again.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

He just keeps staring: it's creepy.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

It's almost 'rapist-creepy', I think.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

What if he WAS some kind of violent pervert?

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'd be saying "I knew it. I knew he was that type."

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'd tell the Police that he just stood there and stared at my ass, for -- like -- an hour.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Sure: keep looking at my butt, asshole. I'm on to you.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Maybe he has a gun. Maybe he has a gun and follows me home and breaks in.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

And he says: "You are The One for Me. You have been Destined to be Mine."

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

And then he forces a Kiss upon me.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

But it is strangely gentle, almost tender.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I never noticed just how blue his eyes were.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I wonder if he drives an Audi.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I am Laslo.

Beaumont said...

More guns- more gun related deaths and injury be it criminal, self-defense, accidental. The data pretty consistently supports this. I don't understand the need of second amendment supporters to phony up the data and suggest that easier access to guns actually reduces gun injuries and death. If you truly believe in the constitution and the second amendment, it should not matter what the data says, guns should be readily available to all adults with no constraints.

Saint Croix said...

My mom was like, "If we had a gun I would have shot your dad a long time ago." And I totally get that because we have the same genes. So my parents have never had a gun in the house, and I have never had a gun in the house.

That's why we're dog people. Nobody messes with dog! Although I grant you that armed rebellion might one day be necessary. But until that day arrives, I would just as soon the guns stay at the gun store. But I don't like background checks or waiting periods or all this anti-2nd Amendment horseshit. You going to run a background check on your First Amendment speaker? You're going to have a waiting period on your First Amendment speaker?

And for those people who say, guns are dangerous, I say, no shit! So why so trustful of the police or the army or all the other people who have guns? Wake up, you damn liberals! Why do you trust your authorities so much?

Saint Croix said...

And before you say, "What about knives? Does your family trust itself with the steak knives?" Yes! Because we have to eat.

Ironically enough, one time my mom accidentally fell on a steak knife that was sticking out of an open dishwasher. And before you say, "That wound sounds suspicious! How do I know your father didn't stab your mother in the ass with a steak knife?" I can testify because I was in the kitchen when it happened. "Call 911! Mom sat on a steak knife!" And before you say, "I don't trust your family, I think we ought to have background checks and waiting periods on the steak knives," well, that's why we have a 2nd Amendment.

Bruce Hayden said...

More guns- more gun related deaths and injury be it criminal, self-defense, accidental.

Sorry, but your "facts" are bogus. A couple of quick counterpoints. First, as the guns increase nationally, violent crime tends downward, according to FBI statistics. Probably nearing 400 million guns in this country, increasing maybe 5% a year right now. It is called negative correlation. Most of the country is getting safer, as it is getting better armed, but urban minority hell holes are getting worse. Maybe you should be asking why. (Partial answer - most of those cities have been under one party (Democrat) rule for much of our lifetimes).

The 2nd Amdt appears from the historical record to have been just that - a guarantee that no adult would be disarmed by the state (unless in jail, etc.) But any more, no right is absolute. Our jurisprudence has evolved to allow some (small) exceptions or limitations to fundamental rights, such as the right to keep and bear arms (or free speech, free exercise, etc.) The problem is that the demographic that is most likely to engage in mass shootings appears to be those who are mentally unfit. Michael K, being a physician, probably better understands which crazy people are most likely to be mass murderers, but suffice it here, that enough crazy people have engaged in such spree killings, that it may be legally justified (under increased scrutiny of potential infringements of the 2nd Amdt.) to deprive those people this right. Also, note that the alternative, repeatedly pushed by gun grabbers, is to just greatly restrict this right for everyone (except for the powerful, their guards, and the police). Given the choice of preventing potentially dangerous crazy people from having guns, and preventing most everyone else, I would suggest that preventing dangerous crazy people is, by far, the lesser evil (and, thus, may be allowable under increased Constitutional scrutiny)

Saint Croix said...

On the flip side, I do not think we should open up nuke stores. Our 2nd Amendment philosophies do not really work well with nuclear arms or dirty bombs.

Or, to think of it another way, maybe the 2nd Amendment is right! And our government should not have any arms that it would not want ordinary people to have.

BDNYC said...

I consider myself libertarian (in most respects) but I find Libertarians to be so rigid and ideological. Their ideology supplies them an easy answer for every problem. They come off as inexperienced, not serious, etc.

Government is sometimes necessary, as much as I hate to admit it. The problem is we often get too much government and/or government that corruptly enriches itself and its cronies. So then government just grows and grows and feeds on itself, with the cooperation and encouragement of big business. To justify government involvement in all aspects of life, the people are denigrated and made out to be incapable of governing themselves. Big government and big business thrive when the people are dependent and helpless. If the need isn't there for government, government will try to manufacture the need.

But the answer is not to unthinkingly dismantle federal agencies or act like any gun law or environmental regulation is tyranny. The trick is finding government's proper role and carrying out effective policies while remaining within those limits. Libertarianism really ought to be about a general mode of thought, not a rigid set floor policy ideas. A pragmatic libertarian would approach any given policy issue and contemplate how best to strengthen civil society, encourage individual autonomy and limit and ultimately reduce the need for government. Libertarianism isn't anarchy. Libertarianism is about trusting the people to live their lives with order and decency without having to always cry to the government when disputes arise.

Gary Johnson seems like the most thoughtful of the candidates. McAfee is a bit of a wildass and Petersen is basically just an activist. I could vote for Johnson but the other two seem insane to me.

Chris N said...

We'll have open borders and no welfare state on Seasteading Platform 9.

There is the matter of Leader John now demanding all breeding-age women visit his private quarters for a monthly 'check-up.'

Sammy Finkelman said...

"Don't you think that King George would have declared the colonists to be 'mentally ill'?"

Well, maybe.

King George himself was later declared mentally incompetent, around 1810, ushering in the Regency period. He used to have periodic fits before. It is thought he had a disease called porphyria.

mccullough said...

This is one of the reasons why 2% is the ceiling of vote for the Libertarian candidate in presidential elections. Could just have said anyone found mentally unfit by a state court should not be allowed to possess a gun. Whatever the standard would be to involuntary commit someone. Could also temporarily ban anyone who the state has instituted a proceeding against. If not found by the state court to be mentally unfit, then the temporary ban expires.

Sammy Finkelman said...

MayBee said...4/10/16, 9:30 AM

In the case of the Lanzas, you'd have to deny the right of a mentally ill person's family member or household member to possess a gun. After all, Adam Lanza killed his mother and used her guns.

This is where they bring in the argument that guns ought to be capable of only being fired by theoir owners. Even the manufacture of such guns has been taken off the table by the NR, for fear that then we would only be able to have "smart" gun. New Jersey passed a law like that, I think, and it may still be on the books..

http://www.nj.com/politics/index.ssf/2015/05/nj_lawmakers_may_scrap_controversial_smart_gun_law.html

Speaking at a New Hampshire town hall last Friday, May 8, 2015, Gov. Chris Christie singled out New Jersey's smart gun law as a defining example of legislative overreach by the Democratically controlled state legislature that's hampered his ability to expand Second Amendment rights. Now the law may be going away, as lawmakers recognize it has been used to prevent the sale of smart guns in other states, lest it trigger New Jersey's mandate that all guns sold in the state be 'smart' within three years of the technology becoming available elsewhere

They were goingto sue the gun manufacturers to try to force them to do that without anybody passing a law anywhere.
ha

Gahrie said...

If you truly believe in the constitution and the second amendment, it should not matter what the data says, guns should be readily available to all adults with no constraints.

Except the commonsense of family, friends and neighbors. This was the position at the time of the founding and framing. Anyone could own a gun, provided you could handle it properly. But enforcement wasn't handled by the government, it was handled by the community.

Gahrie said...

In the case of the Lanzas, you'd have to deny the right of a mentally ill person's family member or household member to possess a gun. After all, Adam Lanza killed his mother and used her guys.

Not a problem if he's locked up.

Sammy Finkelman said...

MayBee said...4/10/16, 9:19 AM

Other things that have gone away: Making fun of people for thinking ISIS guys might hide among "refugees".

It may have gone away, but it is still ridiculous. ISIS used false Syrian passports (quite detectable by the United States because they used nonexistent serial numbers) for a few terrorists to travel part of the way between Syria and France. The cover was paper thin, and didn't get anyone further than Macedonia. It could not apply to anyone who told any kind of a more than threadbare story. The "quarantine" period alone that refugees go through is more than enough to eliminate this possibility.

It was also used to go from Libya to Italy, but they were caght by their fingerprints. Also, foot soldeiers would not be alloweed to travel unaccompanied, so you need a bunch.

Theer have been a few people who attempted to quit ISIS who travelled with their families, who were arrested in Europe because they'd committed war crimes.

William said...

There is no group of people on earth more vulnerable to the excesses of a tyrannical government than incarcerated prisoners. It seems to me that many of the problems in our prison system could be resolved if we granted our prisoners the same right to bear arms as the rest of their fellow citizens. The problem of prison rape would disappear over night. An armed prison is a polite prison.......I suppose you have to make some exceptions for mass murderers, but, as everyone knows, the vast majority of our prisoners are non violent drug offenders who are in prison because of our foolish drug laws.

Beaumont said...


Except the commonsense of family, friends and neighbors. This was the position at the time of the founding and framing. Anyone could own a gun, provided you could handle it properly. But enforcement wasn't handled by the government, it was handled by the community.

The framers didn't rely on frigin scientific data to forge the constitution and the amendments. Christ, why are the libertarians trying to use what amounts to anecdotal data suggesting a reduction in gun deaths and injuries (again the U.S. data shows and will always show a positive relationship between the amount of guns and the amount of death and injury be it accidental, in self-defense, self-inflicted, or criminal) to support the second amendment. When they do that, it actually strenghtens opposition to free access to firearms. Likewise, the republican Congress banning public funding of research examining the relationships between guns and injuries and death further embolden the views of the left about firearms.

Access to guns is not about safety or data, rather it is about freedom, individual rights, and belief.

R. Chatt said...

Now that we know the Libertarians are just as goofy as the main political party candidates, we can go back to the real race. It is also pretty obvious they know they are mentally unstable and out of touch with reality.

The Cracker Emcee said...


"Find the obvious killer in these photos"

Black guy with the tie. Duh.

The Cracker Emcee said...

I was relieved to not find my senior photo in that set, though.

Bruce Hayden said...

as everyone knows, the vast majority of our prisoners are non violent drug offenders who are in prison because of our foolish drug laws.

Actually, no. I saw a figure the other day of about 20% of prison inmates being non-violent drug offenders (and I know that some of them were engaged in drug trafficking). You are probably a lot more likely to be in prison for killing someone while drunk driving, than smoking pot, or even shooting heroin. A person I know in prison right now pointed that out. The people with drug related offenses in prison these days are mostly involved in the (often violent) drug trade. And, they tend, more often than not, to be there for committing violence. And, the druggies in prison tend to be there for their other crimes - such as stealing to support their habit. Or, maybe engaging in drug trafficking.

NO, I wouldn't want to arm the prisons. Ok, maybe just the women's prisons. But, the male prisons are apparently quite hierarchical, and the male bonding is a good part of why even non-violent males riot when the rest of the inmates do, but violent female inmates don't. It is one of the weird things about the differences in the two sexes - the female prisoners are apparently too self-centered to work together to riot. No such problem with the guys - if the group says riot, most of them riot. Apparently, female prisons are considered much easier, much less stressful, than working male prisons, and part of that is that they guards have to always be on guard, on edge, in the men's prisons. I expect that a lot of the hard timers would shoot the guards just for fun, if they had guns. They stab them, so why not? So, no, I don't think arming prisoners is at all a good idea.

Terry said...

There is a book called Heroes and Hunters of the West, published in 1855:
https://archive.org/details/heroesandhunters00frosrich
It is remembered tales and folklore of the old frontier east of the Ohio River. Most of the stories originated in the days of the French and Indian War through the War of 1812. The typical story goes like this: man is out in the fields. He returns home to find cabin pillaged and family gone. He sounds the alarm and neighbors gather and hunt down and kill (if they can) the Indians that raided his farm. These Indians might have been allied with a foreign power, the French or the Brits.
This explains what a militia was to the people who wrote the constitution.
No, its intended purpose was not to prevent slave rebellion. This is stupid propaganda meant to pin the large number of gun deaths in the US on white people, and not the Black people who commit a staggeringly large amount of the crimes involving guns in the US.

Bruce Hayden said...

Beaumont - I note that you included suicides (and justified homicides) into your statistics. Which is the well trod path of showing that more guns means more deaths. But, you have no data to suggest or show that suicides would not have used another means, if guns had not been available. And, notably, Japan, with onerous gun laws, has a notably higher suicide rate (and, no, they don't all use ceremonial knives and swords to accomplish it). Which is why you need to disaggregate different types of gun deaths to make a reasonable conclusion.

n.n said...

Back-alley gun sales, but neither reactive nor planned parenthood.

So, the opponents are determined to set policy based on the rare 1% exception, rather than respecting the rights to self-defense, hunting, and recreation of the remaining 99%.

First, they disarmed the babies.

n.n said...

The Second Amendment recognizes a right to keep and bear Arms suitable for use in a well regulated Militia. This self-evidently precludes nuclear weapons, scalpels, vacuums, scissors, forceps, and other weapons of mass abortion.

n.n said...

The recent mass-murderers were drug-induced psychopaths. However, mainstream abortionists are motivated by exotic sports cars and other secular incentives. Perhaps they are all living in the twilight zone (a.k.a. penumbra) manifested through consumption of psychogenic substances and inducements.

Rhythm and Balls said...

Locking up or barring arms purchases to the insane would immediately disqualify at least half of the Republican Party faithful.

Terry said...

R&B wrote:"Locking up or barring arms purchases to the insane would immediately disqualify at least half of the Republican Party faithful."
Don't be ridiculous. It is the Democrats who have made registering the institutionalized to vote a priority.

mikee said...

Asking Libertarians about gun rights is like asking a Clinton about sexual fidelity. You get an answer, but there might be major, important points missed completely.

Earnest Prole said...

This principle extends beyond the right to bear arms. Doctrinaire libertarians believe mental illness does not exist, because to acknowledge that it does means acknowledging that a collective may deprive an individual of liberty for his own protection.

cubanbob said...

Rhythm and Balls said...
Locking up or barring arms purchases to the insane would immediately disqualify at least half of the Republican Party faithful.

4/10/16, 1:58 PM"

Possibly but still that beats disqualifying 99.44% of leftists and Democratic Party faithful.

RigelDog said...

Adam Lanza: Sanpaku eyes. Often indicates mental imbalance.

mikeyes said...

The presence of mental illness is not determinative of violence or murder according to most studies on the subject. (The NIH has a very nice section of papers on this.) What is more likely to predict violence is that the person who commits these crimes is male, from a lower socio-economic status and he uses drugs. A significant number of encarcerated murders have a mental illness of some sort (drug abuse is included in these stats, however) but the predictions of how many persons will be murdered by mentally ill perpetrators never quite pan out.
Most studies on the subject of mental illness and violence use standard diagnostic methods to determine the major mental illnesses present and the overall conclusion is that while there are mentally ill murderers, it is more likely that they meet the three criteria mentioned above too. The overall rate of murder by diagnosed mentally ill persons is low compared to the rates by young, socio-economically drug using males (or most anyone else, for that matter) and the mass murder cases most often cited by those concerned about mentally ill persons having guns have been committed by young males who were not (for the most part) diagnosed and often had telegraphed their intent on social media. The incidence of these events is rare compared to similar multiple homocides by those with the triad mentioned above.
Other studies have shown that mentally ill persons are more likely than average to be the victims of violence and it is clear from other studies that mentally ill persons are the subject of lingering prejudice after every Columbine type incident. These laws are a direct outcome of such prejudice, which is interesting because using the same logic to deny guns to anyone with a mental illness (which is a widely scattered net, by the way) would also ban the use of guns by young, socio-economically disadvantaged drug abusers but to mention this (which is already federal law, BTW) is considered not politically correct.
Are there severely dangerous mentally ill persons out there? Of course, but it is not always obvious who they are and the thinking that we need to curb the civil rights of all for the sake of a few is not a good public policy. There are so few murders of this type out there that those who have an abiding interest can name them all from the last 30 years (and they do every time they have a chance to bring this up.)

gadfly said...

Adam Lanza, he's got Bette Davis eyes.

Humperdink said...

When former Commander-in-Heat Bill Clinton was in office, there was a move to restrict 2nd amendment rights.

As someone quipped at the time: "He wants to control our guns, and yet he can't control his libido. That's the guy you want making the determination on the mental health of individuals?"

Rhythm and Balls said...

People talk so much about the right to bare arms that they forgot about the right to bare midriffs.

Rusty said...

n.n said...
"The Second Amendment recognizes a right to keep and bear Arms suitable for use in a well regulated Militia. This self-evidently precludes nuclear weapons, scalpels, vacuums, scissors, forceps, and other weapons of mass abortion."

The same weapons a regular soldier would carry. Which would be an M4 or equivalent.


Rhythm and Balls said...
"Locking up or barring arms purchases to the insane would immediately disqualify at least half of the Republican Party faithful."

I don't know about that, but it would certainly disqualify you.

Bruce Hayden said...

The presence of mental illness is not determinative of violence or murder according to most studies on the subject. (The NIH has a very nice section of papers on this.) What is more likely to predict violence is that the person who commits these crimes is male, from a lower socio-economic status and he uses drugs.

I wonder then if the reason that mental illness is an issue here is that so many of those who go on a killing spree and kill a number of middle class people tended, in the past, to be mentally ill (except that now, we also have militant Muslims). The problem with lower income community males, and esp. minority (esp. Black) males, is that for the most part, it is out of sight, out of mind. Those of us in the middle class can avoid them by staying out of the dysfunctional communities that they live in. But, the mentally ill spree killer is much harder to avoid. Here, in CO, we had a very bright white guy who had been taking classes in the med school, go into a theater and start killing people at random. Turns out that he may have been too bright for his own good, and, as a result, he was apparently unstable. About the only thing that differentiated this theater from others in the vicinity was the "no guns" sign. Any of us could have been there, and maybe died as a result. We know that well adjusted white middle class people don't go on killing sprees, but maybe mentally ill white middle class people do.

As I pointed out above - the focus has been on the mentally ill, since the alternative pushed by the left/gun grabbers is to implement massively restrictive gun control laws after essentially each and every one of these mass shootings (of middle class people in their own communities or at work). Think of what we have seen in the last couple years in CN, CA, NY, NJ, etc. CA has apparently imposed a punitive ammunition tax, as well, I think, of banning lead ammunition (which is almost all ammunition on the market). These states have also imposed "assault weapon" bans, which essentially ban most modern sporting rifles and carbines, just because they look scary. The problem with libertarians is that they know that they aren't going to win anything on the national level, or, even, locally, so they are safe being pure and dogmatic here, when they come out against mental illness screening. But, in real life, Republicans and other 2nd Amdt. believers need to be able to counter the arguments of gun grabbers on the left that all guns should be severely restricted in order to avoid more of these (quite rare) shootings.

Gahrie said...

The same weapons a regular soldier would carry. Which would be an M4 or equivalent.

Actually no. The Second Amendment also covered artillery and warships, and today would include armor and fighter jets.

Remember, the Founders also banned a standing army. One of the reasons the Second Amendment exists was to allow the people to defend the country as a militia while the government organized a military response if we were attacked. As late as the Spanish-American war private citizens were organizing and equipping military units to fight alongside the regular military.

Until 1934, it was possible to buy a fully automatic Tommy gun through the mail from a newspaper ad.

It was Prohibition that fueled the rise of organized crime that motivated the first attacks on the Second Amendment.

Terry said...

Suppose you required a doctor to certify that you don't have a mental illness that would make you want to shoot someone or an alcohol or drug problem before you were allowed to buy a gun.
A lot of doctors wouldn't sign off on that. The potential downside for them is huge, the upside is small.

EMD said...

Not a problem if he's locked up.

For what? Being weird?

Rusty said...


Until 1934, it was possible to buy a fully automatic Tommy gun through the mail from a newspaper ad.

Until 1934 you could buy just about anything including crew served weapons.

Beaumont said...

Hayden wrote - I note that you included suicides (and justified homicides) into your statistics. . But, you have no data to suggest or show that suicides would not have used another means, if guns had not been available. And, notably, Japan, with onerous gun laws, has a notably higher suicide rate (and, no, they don't all use ceremonial knives and swords to accomplish it).

You seemed to have misread my post. I was referring to research done in this country that has identified a positive relationship between the number of guns in a particiular area and gun related deaths, including suicide. We are looking here at longitudinal trends again here in the U.S and in particularly jurisdictions. Looking across countries and comparing suicide (homicide, or even accidental deaths and innjury) rates relative to gun laws across various countires, in a cross sectional fashion, is confounded with too many variables to arrive at reasonable conclusions about the association between the number of guns in a given area and suicide rates.

You also noted that " First, as the guns increase nationally, violent crime tends downward, according to FBI statistics". Talking about the need to disaggregate - violent crime is not synomomous with firearm crime and even the FBI website notes "Don’t draw conclusions from the report by making direct comparisons between cities. Valid assessments are only possible with an understanding of various factors affecting each jurisdiction.". Studies presented in peer-reviewed scientific journals with significant efforts to statistically control for various factors most often find modest but positive relationships between the number of firearms and various firearm related injuries and death in the jurisdictions under study.

You sound like someone who only supports the second amendment if it reduces violent crime, firearm deaths, and injuries. Sorry, but the framers of the constitution were true believers and did not rely on easily manipulatible statistics to support their principles.

Bruce Hayden said...

Actually, the FBI statistics nicely segregate out homicides, and within those, the instrumentality (handgun, long gun, knife, etc.) Last I looked, homicides, and firearm related homicides, are trending down, on a per capita basis, while firearm usage is trending up.

Sammy Finkelman said...

Anyone could own a gun, provided you could handle it properly. But enforcement wasn't handled by the government, it was handled by the community.

It required skill then. They didn't have interchangeable parts. That was ionvented only about 1793. Every firearm was custom made. And skill was needed all through the black powder era, till about 1898 I understand.

Zach said...

This is a problem with Libertarian political analysis. We're always assuming a hypothetical perfect society or a hypothetical despotic government. But we should be talking about *this* society, and *this* government.

We are currently holding an election deciding who will be president for the next four years. Almost all of the laws that President will administer have already been passed; there are no prospects for declaring politically inconvenient people insane. The question of whether people currently understood to be dangerously insane should have their rights to bear arms is already at least a tacit issue -- a lot of mass killers seem in retrospect to have been recognized as very dangerous people in advance of their actions. We already have legal concepts like "a danger to himself or others" that don't seem to be abused for political reasons.

On the other hand, there are plenty of people in the country who would like to play around with definitions in order to substantially infringe the rights of people who are neither crazy nor dangerous. So any workable proposal would have to have guarantees that this won't occur -- guarantees which might not be achievable in today's political climate.

See how neither of the last two paragraphs included a reference to Soviet Russia or Nazi Germany? We don't have to solve the problem of what *any* government *might* do -- we need to figure out what *this* government *should* do.

It's always a good idea to keep one idea on the eternal verities. But libertarians often seem to have little to say about whether current policy should be adjusted a little bit one way or the other, or else their answer is so directly determined by dogma that current events and problems aren't very important in the analysis.

Beaumont said...

Firearm Ownership and Violent Crime in the U.S.: An Ecologic Study.Am J Prev Med. 2015 Aug;49(2):207-14. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2015.02.008. Epub 2015 Jun 16.

METHODS:
State-level rates of household firearm ownership and annual rates of criminal acts from 2001, 2002, and 2004 were analyzed in 2014. Firearm ownership rates were taken from a national survey and crime data were taken from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Uniform Crime Reports. Rates of criminal behavior were estimated as a function of household gun ownership using negative binomial regression models, controlling for several demographic factors.
RESULTS:
Higher levels of firearm ownership were associated with higher levels of firearm assault and firearm robbery. There was also a significant association between firearm ownership and firearm homicide, as well as overall homicide.
CONCLUSIONS:
The findings do not support the hypothesis that higher population firearm ownership rates reduce firearm-associated criminal perpetration. On the contrary, evidence shows that states with higher levels of firearm ownership have an increased risk for violent crimes perpetrated with a firearm. Public health stakeholders should consider the outcomes associated with private firearm ownership.

Rusty said...

Sammy Finkelman said...
Anyone could own a gun, provided you could handle it properly. But enforcement wasn't handled by the government, it was handled by the community.

It required skill then. They didn't have interchangeable parts. That was ionvented only about 1793. Every firearm was custom made. And skill was needed all through the black powder era, till about 1898 I understand.

To make them, yes. To use them no. Even in the colonial era there was a mass production system in place especially in England where one shop would forge barrels, another make the locks, and still another the stocks. The "Brown Bess" was a fairly common musket. Fine shotguns are still made by hand.

Beaumont said...

Altheimer—An Exploratory Analysis of Guns and Violent Crime in a Cross-National Sample of Cities. (2010)
Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, Vol. 6(3). pp. 204–227.
This study examines the relationship between gun availability and crime in a cross-national
sample of cities. Data from the International Crime Victimization Survey are used
to examine three competing hypotheses. The results of the limited information maximum
least squares regression analyses suggest that gun availability influences rates of assault,
gun assault, robbery, and gun robbery. These findings suggest that increasing city
levels of gun availability in this cross-national sample of cities increases the likelihood
that violent crimes are committed and that guns are involved in these crimes. Importantly,
these findings do not suggest that increasing gun availability reduces crime.

Rusty said...

And the CDC study found just the opposite, Beaumont.

Here are some other statistics, Beaumont.
There are approx. 100,000,000 firearm owners in the United States. Those owners own approx. 300,000,000 firearms.
What's your plan?

Beaumont said...

Blogger Rusty said...
And the CDC study found just the opposite, Beaumont.

Congress has prevented the CDC from studying the associations between firearms and gun deaths and inuries for twenty years, by not funding these sorts of investigations. It proves my point that the Republican Congress does not wholeheartedly believe in the second amendment, no matter the consequences, otherwise they would not be afraid of the outcome of research into the connections between firearms and gun deaths and injuries.

mikeyes said...

I think Rusty is referring to the 2013 study commissioned by the Obama administration from the National Academy of Sciences and the National Institute of Medicine. The CDC did not participate in this meta-study. One of the things that this study pointed out was that there was confirmation bias in most of the studies done on the subject of gun violence (as seen by the cites mentioned above) so they looked at the subject a objectively as possible. The conclusions were mixed, but did not really favor the anti-gun side.

Saint Croix said...

Weird that people don't think about the federalism issues involved. Crime is a local issue! Gun control is a local issue! Even if you want to say that mentally ill people should not buy guns, it's California or Alaska that should be saying that, not Washington D.C.

The 2nd Amendment is quite clear that the militia is to be "well-regulated." But it's also quite clear that it is the states who are doing the regulating, not the federal government. Washington D.C. is stripped of its ability to regulate the arms of our citizens.

The 14th Amendment might change the states' power in this regard. But we should never forget our great federalism, enshrined in the 10the Amendment, and specifically referenced in the 2nd!

Rusty said...

Beaumont said...
Blogger Rusty said...
And the CDC study found just the opposite, Beaumont.

Congress has prevented the CDC from studying the associations between firearms and gun deaths and inuries for twenty years, by not funding these sorts of investigations. It proves my point that the Republican Congress does not wholeheartedly believe in the second amendment, no matter the consequences, otherwise they would not be afraid of the outcome of research into the connections between firearms and gun deaths and injuries.

Well then. Let's use the FBIs uniform crime statistics. Once you've eliminated suicide and gang crime your chances of being killed by a firearm in this country is vanishingly small. You have a better chance of being shot by a random stranger in Italy.
So Beaumont.
What's you plan?

George Dance said...

Who do you think is insane? Here's an example: "Tim McLean, a 22-year-old Canadian man, was stabbed, beheaded and cannibalized while riding a Greyhound Canada bus about 30 km west of Portage la Prairie, Manitoba traveling the Trans Canada Highway. On March 5, 2009, McLean's killer, 40-year-old Vincent Weiguang Li (born April 30, 1968), was found not to be criminally responsible for murder and was remanded to a high-security mental health facility in Selkirk, Manitoba, where he was detained until his release/"

As a libertarian, I have serious doubts about whether Li (now that he's out on day passes) has a 'right to bear arms'. As a Libertarian Party member, I'd question the sanity of anyone, like Petersen, who wants to spend his election time campaigning for Li's 'right to bear arms.'

mikeyes said...

George Dance,

Assuming your report is correct and Mr Li was determined to be not guilty by reason of insanity (or whatever standard Canada uses), he would not be eligible to bear arms in the US (under the same circumstances - he probably couldn't in Canada, anyway) under US Federal law. But how would you determine beforehand that the incident would occur? Ban anyone with a diagnosis (technically 40% of Family practice patients), that would just make a lot of doctors into felons as they would not report or ask the questions about depression.
The issue of allowing adjudicated mentally ill patients to bear arms revolves around people who were depressed enough to attempt suicide. In many states it is easy to be "adjudicated", even without a proper hearing, by just being detained for evaluation. The vast majority of these patients are not permanently mentally ill and are able to be back to an euthymic state very quickly. Without doing an exam on Mr. Li it is impossible to render a diagnosis, but it appears that he probably has a permanent psychotic disorder that requires continued medication or he will become ill again. Severely depressed people may commit murder/suicide, but that rare and usually a different type of diagnosis.

George Dance said...

Mikeyes: "Assuming your report is correct and Mr Li was determined to be not guilty by reason of insanity (or whatever standard Canada uses), he would not be eligible to bear arms in the US (under the same circumstances - he probably couldn't in Canada, anyway) under US Federal law."

Exactly; which was what the candidates were asked about by John Stosel: "Some people with criminal records, some mentally ill people, get guns, some commit terrible crimes; should there be any limit?"

Gary Johnson was the only candidate "open" to even discussing a limit; Petersen rejected the idea in toto - "It's the government that sets the standards!... The government has no right to take away our form of self-defense. It is an individual right to bear arms", and McAfee echoed him: "Austin is right: Who makes the laws?"

"But how would you determine beforehand that the incident would occur?"

This is 'beforehand,' since Li (who was indeed locked up, but is now out on day passes) has never used a gun to commit a crime. In my own view, if someone has committed any crime of violence against another person (either been convicted, or acquitted or judged unfit to stand trial by reason of insanity), yes, they should prima facie be restricted from gun ownership. And if a state can do that, a state can require a background check to see if that's a case.

If by 'beforehand' you mean: before the person committed any crime, then; as much as I'd like to see that, I have to agree with Johnson: I don't think you can codify that in legislation.