I happened to be in Denver the other day cabbing it to the no-tell motel after a meeting of Narcotics Anonymous. The cab driver decided that he would talk to me about the shootings that happened in Virginia. Cab driver has four sons, two of them are in college. One of them is in Virginia but not in THAT place. Cab driver went on at length about gun safety and teaching his boys to be responsible about guns. It sounds rather dreadful in the retelling but it really wasn't. The conversation I found to be more enjoyable than downtown Denver was during rush hour.
There are some things about law and mental hygiene law [nope, not laws for those who like to read or look at porn] in particular that folks do not know, do not understand, or haven't had to know or understand. The disclaimer goes like this: I am not a lawyer and you are a jackass if you are relying upon this blog for legal advice. End of disclaimer. "The law is an ass." I must admit here that I do not recall who said it first but I sure wish I had. Anyone who doesn't agree is living in a different universe than the one I've had to deal with my whole life. Or perhaps they just disagree and that's cool too.
The young man who shot up all those students and then died too was hospitalized for his mental difficulties in 2005. Here is something which the cab driver did not know and maybe some of you don't either. If the young man admitted himself-- signed himself in-- then he can truthfully answer "no" on any sort of application which asks if one was ever committed. Most of us mental nutcases, whether we've ever been on any sort of mental hell unit or not, are aware that being 2P'ed [signed in forcibly by a physician and a physician crony physician] is the absolute worst thing one can do in terms of preservation of any sort of human rights. Thus most of us try very very hard to remember that when being threatened with a 2P, it is better to yield pen in hand and sign ourselves in. Under a 2P, a mental health sort of kangaroo court has to do a review every so many hours-- it might be 72 and then in decreasing frequencies-- in order for the hospital to maintain its' hold. It is easier to get out of a mental hospital if we have signed ourselves in-- even A.M.A.
That stands for against medical advice. I agree it is somewhat ludicrous to speak about human rights on a nutward but bear with me here.
So the young man who signed himself in has no proof of disordered thinking when he shows up at the gun shop or wherever to buy his own personal weapon of mass destruction. Fact is, as long as we weren't ever 2P'ed [and maybe sometimes if we were], there is no flashing light following us around screaming, "Don't sell that moron a gun." Maybe we can thank the lawyers for that one or at least thank the idiots at the ACLU who would be comfortable with someone like me having access to a gun, but I digress.
Furthermore, as far as good to excellent mental hell treatment, that is in itself an oxymoron. We do not know what good to excellent mental hell treatment is. Mental hell treatment-- counseling in particular-- does not have a gold standard of care. There is no scientific validity measure attached to talk therapy. People like to talk about talk therapy because somehow it seems more humane than shoveling psychotropics down the throats of those whose lives are unfixable any other way. There is no evidence that counseling works. There is evidence that for various specific conditions the pills do work.
We know for example that someone who has genuine bipolar disorder I [useta be manic depression] has an excellent chance of medicine actually working. We also know that someone who has genuine bipolar disorder I who is unmedicated runs a seriously high risk of that disorder becoming worse, period. [It's all on Medscape, folks.] And we know that pills and combinations of pills do not work well at all for the serious personality disorders that people come down with [assuming that the diagnosis is accurate and not based upon therapist prejudice]. We know that folks with traumatic brain injury traditionally need more of the psychotropic variety of medicine and less of some other classes. And so on.
Here is some really bad news. Read it several times until it sinks in. Ready?
Mental health professionals are notoriously BAD at predicting who
is a danger to society and who isn't.
The F.B.I. people are talking to serial killers and some of them are writing books and it is all fascinating but unless you are a serial killer behind bars, ain't no one really knowing how to look for you before you actually kill anyone. Same goes for kids shooting other kids in school.
Here are some of my own suggestions:
(1). Dump the insanity defense totally. If you are going to say, "I did it but I am nuts" or "I did it but I am nuts and therefore not responsible for my self" or "I did it cuz I am nuts and I don't know when or if I will do it again" etc., then you deserve to be locked up away from society, period. I personally don't care if they lock you up in a mental hospital or in a prison. Harsh? Too bad.
Equal rights are not special rights. If we truly believe that we the mental nutcases deserve the same civil rights as other civils, then we have to be willing to accept the same consequences for bad behavior that everyone else gets to have. Anything less is burrsit.
(2). Anyone who has ever been actively suicidal should not own a gun for any reason. [For exceptions, see number five].
(3). Anyone who has symptoms of personality disorders should not own a gun for any reason. [For exceptions, see number five].
(4). Anyone who has ever experienced a genuine psychotic state should not own a gun for any reason. [For exceptions, see number five].
(5). For exceptions: Let the shrinks sign off on the pieces of paper giving us permission to own and use firearms. And let them share in the responsibility if we make any bad things happen during our handling of a firearm.
Risk-taking is risky. Shrinks are notoriously bad at predicting who is a long-term risk to society. Fine them real money for every person that we kill [including ourselves] with our guns and give that money to the families of the victims. Here's a prediction of my own: No shrink will agree to sign that piece of paper for their patients if their best shrink misjudgment will cost them shrink money. Off the wall? Tough. If I am that off the wall, then why are you still reading this?