Following the most recent school shooting in Florida that resulted in 17 deaths, Trump and the NRA are resorting to their usual blather about mental illness being the problem, not guns.
The United States doesn't have more mentally ill people than other countries with vastly fewer school shootings. What distinguishes our country is the number of guns we have. With around 4% of the world's population, we have about 48% of the world's guns.
Also, most school shooters aren't really mentally ill. My wife is a retired psychotherapist. She understands mental illness. And she understands that most school shooters are angry, bitter, enraged, depressed -- but not clinically mentally ill.
UPDATE: A New York Times story, "Opening Mental Hospitals Unlikely to Prevent Mass Shootings, Experts Say," makes the same points as I do. Just better, since they cite psychiatrists who have studied mass shooters and discuss the shooters themselves, who are typically angry and depressed, as are countless other teenagers, but not mentally ill.
There's loose talk from Trump of reopening mental hospitals and forcing disturbed teenagers to be admitted. This makes no sense. It isn't easy to commit someone to a mental institution, nor should it be.
"Disturbed" isn't at all the same as "mentally ill."
By definition, anyone who goes into a school and kills people is disturbed, because this behavior isn't normal. However, taking that sort of action requires planning and forethought. A would-be school shooter who is psychotic or otherwise out of contact with reality likely won't be able to carry out his plan.
Sure, disturbed youth who appear to pose a threat to themselves or others need to get help. But a policy of committing them to a mental institution or taking their guns away probably is going to backfire.
Potential school shooters aren't insane. They know what they want to do and how to do it.
It stands to reason that they will be well aware of a policy in their community that anyone who makes threats about killing others will face serious consequences: forced mental health treatment, having guns confiscated.
Trump and the NRA seem to believe that would-be school shooters won't change their behavior in the face of those sorts of policies. This is the same sort of simplistic thinking that led to everyone being forced to take off their shoes before boarding a plane because once a terrorist tried to detonate a shoe bomb.
Um, terrorists can read. They can think. They know that measures are being taken to detect shoe bombs, so almost certainly they now will try other ways of bringing down an airplane.
Same applies to people pondering a school shooting. If they know that acting angry and making threats will bring them to the attention of authorities, many, if not most, will alter their behavior. They won't want to have their guns confiscated, so they will act as normal as possible.
Focusing on mental illness after a school shooting is just a ruse by the NRA and their supporters to deflect attention from the real cause of school gun deaths. Which is, of course, guns.
Automobile accidents are called that because, duh, it takes an automobile to have an automobile accident. Likewise, it takes a gun to have a gun death. How many people have been killed in school by a knife or explosive? To my knowledge, zero.
Easy access to guns is the reason our country has so many school shootings. Universal background checks, banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines -- these are what will save lives, not a misguided focus on mental illness.
I am not a professional but look at this as most ordinary people probably do. The parents of these kids (Tucson shooter probably was schizophrenic given the symptoms-- only 10% of whom are potentially violent) have been getting no help with the serious nature of the behavior their kids are exhibiting. Time after time we read of the parents trying to find help, calling authorities, and nobody can do anything. At one time we did have institutions where someone could go for help. Now we only have them for those rich enough or with insurance to cover their stays. Most families are like the Broward county one with 39 calls to the police and nobody did anything. The term psychotic fits him well when i heard how he pumped 6 shots into that girl, 7 the coach, probably a like number into the other students he killed and then calmly put his gun down, walked out with the students, got a drink at a Subway, stopped at another place. Who can do that that is normal? I think there needs to be an understanding that insane is not the same as mentally ill. He was clearly mentally ill but not insane.
What i want to see is the schools required to report someone they expelled for violent behavior and put their name in a background check file where they can't then turn around and buy 7 guns in a year (3 more acquired illegally). When someone buys that many guns, shouldn't that also be a warning flag-- ignoring the ones the FBI got and did nothing about.
I get it that people like you hate Trump and anything he says has to be attacked but he was doing something with that listening circle that let Americans in on the process of what has been happening, what options might be there, and then how do we proceed. There are those that are so filled with rage at him or the NRA that they really don't want to do anything that might help. I hope that those with such emotional angst will calm down, start to think rationally and forget whether the idea came from someone they disdain.
We need more than one approach. I would gladly see a ban on all assault rifles even though I hear from those who think they are needed. I'd gladly see background checks with teeth where if someone has a gun and they get charged with assaulting someone, the police check that list and go get their gun. I'd love to see all guns out of the hands of criminals like the one the man talked about killing his son on his way home from school only to get his cell phone. The thing is we might be able to get the one from the guy being charged with abuse but that criminal, who will kill for a cell phone, not getting his and we all know it.
I think they need to make schools not accessible except through front doors with a metal detector. We never could go through side doors when I was in high school, what suddenly made these campuses so easy for a predator to get into them? We need good fences around schools. A lot of schools have them and then one way in and when someone exits a side door, an alarm should go off.
I also think we have to get realistic about 'mental illness' with real options for desperate parents. We had one of these shootings in Oregon some years ago where both parents were killed first by the son that they had tried to help but there were no answers that stopped him from then going to his school and killing kids before one of the kids managed to stop him.
Mental illness is real and it is a factor along with others as to why someone can heartlessly slaughter those they don't even know and then calmly walk off as if it was just another day. There are some books out on psychotics. According to the talks I've heard on them, they can look perfectly normal and are good at play acting. This last one though was acting so violent that he all but was crying out for someone to stop him. Nobody did until it was too late. Now, his life is ruined along with a lot of others.
To me, it's ironic that the left fears doing anything about mental illness that might actually help (which can mean incarcerating where there can be real help) and the right fears even blocking a person on a terrorist watch list from buying a gun. It's why nothing happens. I hope this time it'll be different but won't count on it when even having all those first graders killed didn't...
Posted by: Rain Trueax | February 23, 2018 at 05:44 AM
I agree with Rain.
Blogger Brian wrote in quotes:
"The United States doesn't have more mentally ill people than other countries with vastly fewer school shootings. What distinguishes our country is the number of guns we have. With around 4% of the world's population, we have about 48% of the world's guns."
-- With over 300 million guns in circulation in the U.S. only a minuscule percentage are used for mass shootings. It appears the vast majority of gun owners are responsible with their guns. Why should they be punished for the actions of a very few?
"Also, most school shooters aren't really mentally ill. My wife is a retired psychotherapist. She understands mental illness. And she understands that most school shooters are angry, bitter, enraged, depressed -- but not clinically mentally ill."
-- Depression is a form of mental illness. Rage is a form of insanity, temporary or not. I think your wife is incorrect regardless of her background or credentials.
"UPDATE: A New York Times story, "Opening Mental Hospitals Unlikely to Prevent Mass Shootings, Experts Say," makes the same points as I do. Just better, since they cite psychiatrists who have studied mass shooters and discuss the shooters themselves, who are typically angry and depressed, as are countless other teenagers, but not mentally ill."
--There are degrees of mental illness. Obviously, someone who shoots dozens of people in a depressed rage is mentally ill. What? He's having an off day?
"There's loose talk from Trump of reopening mental hospitals and forcing disturbed teenagers to be admitted. This makes no sense. It isn't easy to commit someone to a mental institution, nor should it be. "
--You don't think someone who announces they want to become a "professional school shooter" shouldn't be restrained and observed until their state of mind can be assessed?
"Disturbed" isn't at all the same as "mentally ill."
"By definition, anyone who goes into a school and kills people is disturbed, because this behavior isn't normal. However, taking that sort of action requires planning and forethought. A would-be school shooter who is psychotic or otherwise out of contact with reality likely won't be able to carry out his plan."
--The shooter of Gabrielle Giffords was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Yet, he was able to plan and carry out an attack which was performed with a handgun by the way.
"Sure, disturbed youth who appear to pose a threat to themselves or others need to get help. But a policy of committing them to a mental institution or taking their guns away probably is going to backfire."
--What? Let them run around upset with a gun?
"Potential school shooters aren't insane. They know what they want to do and how to do it."
--I refer back to the shooter of Gabrielle Giffords.
"It stands to reason that they will be well aware of a policy in their community that anyone who makes threats about killing others will face serious consequences: forced mental health treatment, having guns confiscated."
-- So, no mental health treatment or confiscation of guns from those who can be identified as potentially dangerous since some can't be identified as such?
"Trump and the NRA seem to believe that would-be school shooters won't change their behavior in the face of those sorts of policies. This is the same sort of simplistic thinking that led to everyone being forced to take off their shoes before boarding a plane because once a terrorist tried to detonate a shoe bomb."
-- You want many millions of responsible gun owners to give up their guns and they aren't even trying to board a plane or enter a school?
"Um, terrorists can read. They can think. They know that measures are being taken to detect shoe bombs, so almost certainly they now will try other ways of bringing down an airplane."
--Same with school massacres. Can't use a gun or bomb? You don't think they will try to think of something else?
"Same applies to people pondering a school shooting. If they know that acting angry and making threats will bring them to the attention of authorities, many, if not most, will alter their behavior. They won't want to have their guns confiscated, so they will act as normal as possible."
--So, they will suppress their behavior while they figure out how to poison cafeteria food.
"Focusing on mental illness after a school shooting is just a ruse by the NRA and their supporters to deflect attention from the real cause of school gun deaths. Which is, of course, guns."
-- Food isn't the cause of obesity, Overeating is.
"Automobile accidents are called that because, duh, it takes an automobile to have an automobile accident. Likewise, it takes a gun to have a gun death. How many people have been killed in school by a knife or explosive? To my knowledge, zero. "
-- The deadliest massacre in US school history was with a bomb:
"Easy access to guns is the reason our country has so many school shootings. Universal background checks, banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines -- these are what will save lives, not a misguided focus on mental illness. "
--There already are background checks, but they could be made even more thorough. A shooter doesn't need an assault rifle. He can use a pistol or rifle, semi auto or not. Remember the Virginia Tech shooter used two handguns to kill 32 and wound 17 more.
Posted by: tucson | February 23, 2018 at 11:10 AM
It’s interesting to watch gun jumpers come out of the woodwork and suddenly pretend to take an interest in mental health, a vastly more difficult approach to reducing carnage than it would be to take on the easy access to highly lethal weaponry that the gun humpers define as “freedom.”
But it’s also interesting to hear folks willing to talk about sane limits on weaponry insist that the US doesn’t have more mentally ill people than other places — that’s certainly not what I observe. Indeed, there are lots of places with vastly more weaponry handy than in the US (Switzerland, for example).
Indeed, I suggest that the US has the worst of all worlds. We have let the gun lobby rule and flood the country with absurdly capable weaponry, and we also have vastly more mental illness per 100,000 than many less materially advanced places ... not because poverty is ennobling or good mental hygiene but because out atomistic, hyper competitive, winner-take-all materialistic society is a fast-reproducing mental illness pathogen that is terrible virulent and that is just not good for people. Many places are worse off than us on one or the other (number of weapons, number of mentally ill folks) but there’s no one worse off than us on the combined event score — we take the Gold, Silver and Bronze when it comes to making people feel rage and worthlessness, while also giving them access to the tools that let them act out the fantasies of revenge for that rage.
We especially see this deadly combination far too often in young males who suffer from inescapable alienation and feelings of purposelessness. Many of them lack any experience with, much less bonding to, a healthy social group that challenges them or rewards anything about them. The institutions that used to bring in young adult males and turn them into functioning adults have mostly disappeared — between the end of “universal conscription” and the offshoring of jobs and the automation of many that remain, the future is very not bright for many young men and they know it.
Posted by: Walker | February 23, 2018 at 10:45 PM
Despite some of your insightful observations, calling gun enthusiasts "gun humpers" isn't helpful in this discussion, even if it is sarcastically descriptive. The vast majority of these people don't want to hurt anyone and find the school killings appalling. Obviously, to you, gun people are disturbed and perverted evolutionary deviants deserving of disdain and derision. Better to find some respect so that both sides can work together for some sort of solution. Of course, you can continue as you wish.
PS. I'm not an NRA member and I don't enjoy guns.
Posted by: tucson | February 24, 2018 at 10:26 AM
I am not an NRA member either. I do though have a concealed carry permit-- though I almost never carry. I have, except when grandkids visit, a loaded .357 usually in a bookcase near my desk. My home has a lot of rifles but no AR-15s or its ilk. I do though have a .22 mag that can shoot a coyote by pulling the trigger not having to cock it for each shot. Out where I live most people have guns and they can be for predators but also that we are a long way from police protection. The people are not gun nuts out our way as they see guns as tools-- needed for certain things like protecting the stock.
Posted by: Rain Trueax | February 24, 2018 at 11:19 AM
Previewing your Comment
** With over 300 million guns in circulation in the U.S. only a minuscule percentage are used for mass shootings. It appears the vast majority of gun owners are responsible with their guns. Why should they be punished for the actions of a very few? **
I'm not sure why restricting the sale of assault rifles to save lives
"punishes" them. Why are military weapons in the hands of civilians
at all? Target practice? Fantasy? Next year's trip to a war zone?
Restricting assault weapons has been proven to save lives. See
the history here and in Australia. No, it's not perfect but it's not
some draconian restriction of gun rights or an imminent attack
on the 2nd amendment.
Weigh a ban on assault rifles against the lives lost at Parkland
and Sandy Hook. Are you old enough to remember those haunting
photos ot the "week's dead" in Life Magazine during the Vietnam
War. Seeing them struck me in a way I'll never forget.
I was in a relatively safe zone so I didn't feel the immediacy and
visceral terror of being close to combat. But, looking at those
photos, I felt an irreparable sense of sorrow and loss.
It's a different era and we'll likely never photos of the children
lost. That's good. It could legitimately be viewed as an attempt
to sensationalize their deaths. But, if they were, surely seeing
fewer of them is worth this un-momentous sacrifice.
Posted by: Dungeness | February 24, 2018 at 01:02 PM
I understand your feelings and frustration with these terrible shootings.
But if there were zero AR-15s there are still plenty guns capable of a massacre. Again, the Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 and wounded 17 with two handguns tucked in his jacket. You would have to ban many types of guns to eliminate mass killing capability.
Raising the age for buying guns to 21 might help some as well as surveillance of troubled youth with violent fantasies or tendencies. In the Bronx they have metal detectors at schools. Seems to help. This, along along with good fences and security personnel might stem the tide.
Then you have to figure out how to secure public parks and other soft target gathering places like the beach on a sunny summer Sunday.
This world sucks at times. Such is life. This doesn't mean we throw up our hands and not try, but solutions have to be realistic, practical and in proportion to the threat. Cowards will find a way to do their dirty deeds. I could have knocked out Mike Tyson if I sneaked up behind him with a baseball bat.
Posted by: tucson | February 24, 2018 at 06:51 PM
*** This world sucks at times. Such is life. This doesn't mean we throw up our hands and not try, but solutions have to be realistic, practical and in proportion to the threat. ***
How much more of a threat do we need... how many
more kids and adults need to die before it rises to the
proportion deemed large enough..
Banning assault rifles has proven to mitigate this carnage.
Citing the lethality of handguns or the threat of soft targets
is a deflection. The assault rifle has become the weapon of
choice of mass shooters. It's relatively cheap, easy to use,
readily acquired, and is a clear and present danger to the
the most precious and vulnerable of us.
Australia had the worse mass shooting in history in 1996.
There's been no subsequent one since an assault rifle ban
was enacted in its aftermath. Significant drops are seen
every time a ban on a.r.'s is put in place.
A spectrum of reasonable solutions is called for but to
suggest that raising the age of purchase, outlawing
bump stocks, arming teachers, hardening school
barriers or, or hiring more rent-a-cops, while ignoring
a ban, is the path of madness. Stupidity.
It is simply unconscionable to continue to deny the proven
effectiveness of a ban on assault rifles. It's absurd and
shameful and represents an abdication of decency and
courage by too many. So many of them are quick to
label the shooters as cowards. They need to look in the
Posted by: Dungeness | February 24, 2018 at 10:48 PM
I COMPLETELY agree with your argument. I've been seeing so many posts where people say they they are somehow entitled to owning one of these killing machines. They say they need to defend themselves from.the government. How delusional can they be????
And in the most tine-deaf move ever, a girls softball team in Dallas is auctioning off an AR-15, courtesy of town bigot/village idiot Micky Garus. https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=874725592706459&id=537963699715985&_rdr
Posted by: Carissa | February 25, 2018 at 07:08 AM
Well, you seem to be a little crabby with me.. calling me a stupid coward for my opinions. That's OK. I understand the emotion and frustration you feel as a result of these shootings and with people like me who do not think an "assault" rifle ban is the answer.
On a personal level, I don't care if there are any semi-auto (assault) rifles or not. Don't own one. Don't need one. Don't like to shoot 'em. But millions of people do own and enjoy them without killing children.
By the way, most of these military style semi-autos are pretty expensive for most people to buy at around $1000 give or take a few hundred for make, model and condition.
The Australia mass shooting in 1996 was actually #15 on the all-time worst list of mass shootings. The U.S. has about 14 of the top 50 of these shootings but it is a worldwide occurrence and even happens in places where guns are prohibited..
The Deadliest Mass Shootings In History
Rank Name Location Year Victims
1 Garissa University College Attack Garissa, Kenya 2015 148
2 Peshawar School Massacre Peshawar, Pakistan 2014 141
3 November 2015 Paris Attacks Paris, France 2015 130
4 2011 Norway Attacks Oslo, Norway 2011 67
5 Westgate Shopping Mall Attack Nairobi, Kenya 2013 67
6 2017 Las Vegas Shooting Las Vegas, Nevada, USA 2017 58
7 South Korea Shooting of 1982 Uiryeong County, South Korea 1982 56
8 2016 Orlando Nightclub Shooting Orlando, Florida, USA 2016 49
9 Sousse Beach Mass Shooting Sousse, Tunisia 2015 38
10 Virginia Tech Shootings Blacksburg, Virginia, USA 2007 32
11 Tian Mingjian Incident Beijing, China 1994 28
12 Sandy Hook Massacre Newtown, Connecticut, USA 2012 27
13 Sutherland Springs Church Shooting Sutherland Springs, Texas, USA 2017 26
14 Kampala Wedding Massacre Kampala, Uganda 1994 26
15 Port Arthur Masacre Port Arthur, Tasmania, Australia 1996 25
16 Luby's Shooting Killen, Texas, USA 1991 23
17 San Ysidro McDonald's Massacre San Ysidro, California, USA 1984 21
18 2015 Bamako Hotel Attack Bamako, Mali 2015 20
19 2010 Chihuahua Shootings Chihuahua, Mexico 2010 19
20 University of Texas Tower Shooting Austin, Texas, USA 1966 18
21 Dunblane Massacre Dunblane, Scotland, UK 1996 17
22 Erfurt School Massacre Erfurt, Germany 2002 17
23 Hungerford Massacre Hungergord, Berkshire, UK 1987 16
24 Winneden School Shooting Winnenden, Germany 2009 16
25 Columbine High School Massacre Columbine, Colorado, USA 1999 15
26 Edmond Post Office Shooting Edmond, Oklahoma, USA 1986 15
27 Toulon France Shooting Toulon, France 1995 15
28 Zug Massacre Zug, Switzerland 2001 14
29 Luxiol Massacre Luxiol, France 1989 14
30 2015 San Bernandino Attack San Bernardino, California, USA 2015 14
31 École Polytechnique massacre Montreal, Quebec, Canada 1989 14
32 Pashupatinath Temple Shooting Mandsaur, India 1983 14
33 Aramoana Massacre Aramoana, New Zealand 1990 13
34 Fort Hood Shooting Fort Hood, Texas, USA 2009 13
35 Binghamton Shootings Binghamton, New York, USA 2009 13
36 Baku Shooting Baku, Azerbaijan 2009 13
37 Velika Ivanča Shooting Velika Ivanča, Serbia 2013 13
38 Kamwenge Trading Centre Shooting Kamwenge, Uganda 1994 13
39 Aurora Shooting Aurora, Colorado, USA 2012 12
40 1999 Atlanta Shooting Atlanta, Georgia, USA 1999 12
41 Rio de Janeiro School Shooting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2011 12
42 Campinas Massacre Campinas, Brazil 2016 12
43 Cumbria Shootings Cumbria, England, UK 2010 12
44 Charlie Hebdo Shooting Paris, France 2015 12
45 2011 Rio de Janeiro School Shooting Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 2011 12
46 Washington Navy Yard Shooting Washington, D.C., USA 2013 11
47 Geneva County Massacre Geneva County, Alabama, USA 2009 10
48 Bombo Shooting Bombo, Uganda 2013 10
49 Kauhajoki School Shooting Kauhajoki, Finland 2008 10
Posted by: tucson | February 25, 2018 at 11:54 AM
My apologies Tucson if I seemed to be ranting at you specifically. Frankly, the images that came to my fevered brain were more generally stereotypes I conjure up of NRA crazies and their enablers. My language was over the top.
You're right too about the worst mass shooting list. The 1996 incident in Australia was "only Australia's worst".
But that "Mass Shooting Infamy" article you cite notes that, amid these stark statistics, there's a rampaging elephant in the US.
"When it comes to dealing with gun massacres, the United States is unique in a very unfortunate way. According to a new study, more public mass shootings occur in the U.S. than in any other country in the world. In fact, more than 90 mass shootings took place in the United States between 1966 and 2012. Mass shootings are defined as shooting events having four or more victims, and do not include slayings or gang killings which involve the death of multiple family members."
Posted by: Dungeness | February 25, 2018 at 03:43 PM
No problem, Dungeness.
There is more than our share of mayhem in the U.S. Something is going on here that causes a disproportionate number of people to feel isolated, disassociated, angry and depressed. Walker, above, had some thoughts about this.
Folks, like they say: If you see something, say something.
Posted by: tucson | February 25, 2018 at 04:51 PM
This has continued to be a hot button topic at Facebook, the only social media site where I read; so maybe not the only one where it's raging. It's on both sides with maybe bots contributing to the anger and fear-- from both sides and some claim Russians. One post that got me was blaming the NRA for what happened. There is plenty of blame to go around but I thought it was a bridge too far to say the NRA did it-- but then it was deBlasio, who of course is milking it as is LaPierre.
Some of my teacher expert friends say that the kid was clearly fetal alcohol syndrome and that seems pretty likely, which means he carried a burden from birth. Where were the professionals capable of helping the family cope with that? Families with such problems are on their own all too often in our country-- and whose fault is that? Now his life is ruined and others, who had done nothing wrong, had their ended.
We are not likely to get rid of the AR-15s, much as many of us might wish we could. I read more about this gun than I ever wanted to know and that you can get a magazine that holds 50 shots. Who needs that? I know the answer where it comes to 'good' people. They fear gangs surging out from cities when our culture collapses. They have watched too many dystopian movies and fear a zombie apocalypse. So they defend their right and in the process we get signs blown apart by those eager to fire all those bullets and then the occasional public event or school where a few lives lost are a small price to pay for their ability to fight off a demon hoard.
The kids think they will win this debate by voting in the right people when they get to the right age to do it. Good luck with that as by the time most of the politicians get to Congress, they've sold out a dozen ways. Dems talk the talk but they don't walk the walk on a lot of things. Disillusionment is really how a lot of us oldsters feel. We might hope they are right but we thought at one time we were too. It's a deeply embedded system where money talks the most.
Posted by: Rain Trueax | February 26, 2018 at 06:08 AM
Few people are talking about bullying. That this kid was probably bullied. Kids that are weird and different get bullied. This shooter was pushed too far and he snapped, big time. So what I'm saying is that some of these shootings may be prevented by identifying those who are bullied and assessing their state of mind as well as well as identifying the bullies and disciplining them.
Someone I knew was a soft target for bullies because he was mild mannered and did not get mad and stand up for himself . One day he finally got pissed off and took it out on one of the bullies' cars. He filled the guy's car with dirt through the sun roof. Not just a few shovel fulls. The car was filled with dirt to the top of the seats. At least he didn't shoot the guy.
Posted by: tucson | February 26, 2018 at 04:30 PM