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Mental Health is the Issue, Not Guns and Armed Guards in Schools is not the Solution

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by Jeff White, Dec 26, 2012.

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  1. Jeff White

    Jeff White Moderator Staff Member

    Putting armed guards in all schools would be prohibitively expensive and it's just not a reasonable response to a small threat. The costs would greatly outweigh the benefits.

    I have thought a lot about this issue for years. It is very real to me. When I was a police officer in a small rural town I knew that most likely I would be on my own in an active shooter situation, too much time would elapse before another officer could arrive to go in with me. Just the way things are.

    One of my duties in my current job with the sheriffs office is being in charge of security at the courthouse. I know how expensive real security is. I know this is going to sound cold in this emotionally charged atmosphere, but the risk of an active shooter in every school in America does not justify the cost of properly trained and equipped armed security. We already spend more per capita on education then any other industrialized nation.

    I am an NRA life member and I will not readily give up anything in a futile attempt to stop mass shootings. But the more I think about it, the more I have to dismiss the proposal to put armed officers in every school as prohibitively expensive.

    What can we do then? Gun control will solve nothing, we can't afford to harden our schools and staff them with armed security forces. The solution that has the greatest benefit for our society is to fix our broken mental health system. Back in the 1980s we (as a society) decided that treating the mentally ill by institutionalizing them was cruel and inhumane. And it was expensive. States closed most of their mental hospitals and sanitariums. Advocacy groups pushed an agenda of mainstreaming the mentally ill.

    Suddenly we were having a "homeless" problem. Why? Many of the mentally ill who lost their homes in the state run institutions couldn't handle being "mainstreamed". The number of them I dealt with who just refused to avail themselves of the shelter and government housing programs and preferred to live on the street just amazed me. Today our jails are full of mentally ill people who have committed crimes, felonies and misdemeanors both. In many cases they a found unfit to stand trial and committed to a mental institution. The problem is, there are so few beds that they often sit in isolation cells in the county jail for months waiting for a bed to open up. The judges here have taken to issuing a Rule to Show Cause summons to the directors of the state hospitals ordering them to show up in court and explain why these people are still sitting in the county jail months after the court ordered them committed to the Department of Human Services. Usually a bed comes available within hours of the institution being served with one of these orders.

    Would fixing our mental health system stop all mass shootings? No, of course not. But I think it would lower the risk tremendously and have the other positive effect of dealing with the homeless problem and the jail overcrowding problem. The benefits to society would be worth the cost.

    I'm not sure how much national coverage this story got, but several weeks ago it's possible that a mass shooting was thwarted when the parents of a troubled young man who seems to share many of the problems the sandy Hook shooter had (I will not use his name here), contacted police after he bought an AR15 rifle at Wal-Mart.


    I would like to know why the Lammers are not guests on every news show. I do know the reason, it's because their story doesn't fit a certain agenda. But this is what we need.
  2. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    The numbers simply don't work out to justify armed guards in every school and public place across America. There were a total of 25 school-ralated firearm fatalities for 2009 (latest year of data listed by the government). For thst same year, NOAA listed 34 lightning strike fatalities in the US.

    Battling anti-gun hysteria with pro-gun hysteria isn't the answer. Mass shootings and lightning are very low on my list of worries. I'm much more worried about heart disease and cancer. Like you mention, at the end of the day, the mental health issue needs to be addressed simply to better society in multiple facets. Most of the homeless here are mentally ill and not homeless under their own volition.
  3. fastbolt

    fastbolt Well-Known Member

    I applaud the first 2 posts of this thread.

    I wish these thoughts would spread to other threads that are running wild on other gun owner forums ...
  4. Steel Horse Rider

    Steel Horse Rider Well-Known Member

    It would be far cheaper to simply track the young men who were given behavior modification drugs in their adolescence. That is where a large chunk of these shooters are from, but since chemical handcuffing is acceptable we will not hear a peep. Calling for gun and magazine bans will sell better...
  5. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    Actually, there have been more mass shootings prevented with good police work and informed tips coming in prior to these shootings.

    Several aspects of these shootings lend them to intervention. First, they are usually planned over several months, secondly, there is a common link to many of these shooters as upper middle class, white males with severe social inhibitions coupled with mental health issues. Parents, teachers, police and mental health and primary care folks should all get better at recognizing those at risk.

    The basic science looking into these mass shootings is beginning to pain a recognizable portrait of what to look for. Again, several have been aborted by good police work and friends and family who came forward. One of the common findings is that these creeps broad cast their intentions. Folks need to understand a duty to come forward if someone is talking crazy.

    Lastly, let folks have their 2A rights and be able to carry on public school grounds like they do in Utah. That won't cost anyone a penny in increased taxes. Remove the gun free zones and you have removed the killing grounds for these cowards. Mas Ayoob calls for an Israeli type of response where armed and anonymous concealed carry folks have put an end to mass school killings. If they can do that in the face of terrorism, we can certainly accomplish the same.

    In addition, that would be a continuation of the popularity of CCW in America. Make the next step and eliminate all gun free zones. Public school carry and decriminalize carry where private parties prohibit it. In Utah, private schools and private businesses can put up the no firearms signs, but they lack the power of law. All that they can do if they notice you are armed is to ask you to leave.

    We have the solution, just turn the clock back 30-40 years by allowing CCW as they do in Utah today and you will see a dramatic reduction in these crimes.
  6. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Indeed. While we may argue over whether armed guards or better mental health care are the most effective possible solutions to the problem of mass shootings, the fact remains that from a public policy perspective the far wiser choice would be to have the courage to do NOTHING specifically targeted to reduce that problem. It is simply too rare an occurrence to dramatically change anything about society, to restrict the freedoms of the people to any degree at all, or to spend tax dollars to confront.

    But in human society, no "leader" would ever have the courage to speak that kind of truth, as he and his associates would be howled out of office for being "insensitive" and not doing "something" to protect the children.

    So, the pragmatic effect of calling for better mental health options/care as a matter of public safety is merely to act as a distraction from the -- even less effectual -- calls for gun control.

    It may be one of the better things that we can take the people's money to "give" society, in general. There may certainly be huge public benefits to having large, and full to brimming, mental health facilities getting the homeless off our streets, quarantining the criminally insane (from kleptomaniacs to process predators), and even, yes, snagging the occasional mass-murderer-wannabe (maybe even BEFORE he snaps!). But I still can't -- truthfully -- claim any large scale response at all to be a "reasonable" response to the events in CT, or events similar to that.

    There's a cost-benefit equation there that simply doesn't balance until (and then only MAYBE) you throw a lot of other social issues onto the "pro" side of the scales.
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2012
  7. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    You believe that 30-40 years ago we were in a BETTER place vis-a-vis concealed carry laws in the US?

    Check this out: http://www.gun-nuttery.com/rtc.php
  8. Hurryin' Hoosier

    Hurryin' Hoosier Well-Known Member

    Exactly the point which I've tried to make in several conversations. The closing of mental institutions and "mainstreaming" of people who would formerly have been committed (or simply dumping them on the street) has played a very large part in these mass-shootings. Yet another "victory" for the ACLU!
  9. bikerdoc

    bikerdoc Moderator

    Very well thought out Jeff.
    I am no longer the lone voice calling for mental health reform.
    All 4 of the past shooter were identified as a problem but the system moved too slow.
    The VT and Aurora shooter even had shrinks label them dangerous, that label didn't stop them, an immediate 30 committed evaluation would have.
    But addressing the root cause of the problem doesnt fit their agenda to disarm us.
    In fact I am sure they smirk with callous glee that they can use these ill young men to further their agenda.
  10. CZguy

    CZguy Well-Known Member

    Let me say right up front that I have no idea what the solution is. But I do have some observations.

    First the problem is mental illness. So regulating firearms, cars, or gasoline is pointless.

    State run mental health hospitals, didn't fix the problem of mental illness, but they did warehouse the unbalanced so that they couldn't harm others. Putting the ill back into the community for treatment (making them homeless) was a huge mistake. Right now the only way to get mental health care is through the prison system. This is probably the worst place to provide this care.

    So we as a society are left to make some tough choices. Should we build institutions in order to warehouse the mentally ill? The downside would be cost, and the shock that people would have when word got out just how horrible they were. The up side would be that we would be safer from mass shootings.

    Should we change our laws so that a mentally ill person could be declared a threat to society and incarcerated permanently.

    I'm going to suggest that our society doesn't have the stomach for either choice. And that puts us right back where we are right now, with no treatment whatsoever for those who need it most. And politicians trying to appease people by talking about gun control in order to make people feel that they had done something.
  11. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    Actually I stand corrected on the concealed carry aspect, yes, we are making great strides day by day right now.

    Let me rephrase what I should have stated to the truth that guns were not prohibited on school grounds when I went to public school in the 1970's. Get rid of the gun free zones created in the 1980's. That is at the heart of much of what we are discussing. Thank you for the correction.
  12. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    Simply raising awareness to take away the taboo would help change perceptions. Right now, people avoid the mentally ill like lepers. People with mental illness feel its shameful and somehow inherently worse than physical illness and tend to not to reach out for help. We wouldn't react the same way if we had a cold or broke a finger. It's an astonishingly few that are violently dangerous. Most mental illnesses aren't the stereotypical extremes portrayed in media and movies.
  13. JustinJ

    JustinJ Well-Known Member

    A few months ago the gf and i went swimming in a river at a local state park. While there a thunderstorm began blowing in so we immediately got out of the water and headed back to the car through a forested area when the lightning started. I was amazed at the number of people who continued swimming in spite of heavy lightning so i have trouble equating avoidable fatalities from lightning strikes with those of innocent children being gunned down. While some lightning strikes are completely unexpected and unavoidable others obviously are. Regarding the unexpected strikes there is probably not much of anything that can be done to avoid them. Saying "X number more die from reason Y than from shootings" is not a valid argument if Y can not reasonably be mitigated to begin with. Nor it is it a valid reason to rule shooting death numbers acceptable. What i am grappling with is whether or gun control can help the problem and would it be worth the price if so. Most here seem to refuse to have any degree of objectivity on the issue and instead only consider points that support pro-gun ideology. Personally i do believe i should have a right to whatever firearm i like but i also believe children and adults should have a right to not be shot by a lunatic. I own more semi auto rifles that i can recall in one sitting and know plenty of others who do as well. The problem as i see it is there is no good way to keep them out of the hands of first time murders without also creating additional restrictions against responsible gun owners.

    I don't pretend to know the cost of increased security in schools but i can think of quite a few things i'd happily see cut to fund it. We should also not forget that increased security can have numerous benefits beyond just stopping school shootings. There may also be other effective security options than a full time armed guard such as physical measures like hardened entry points with controlled access. The idea of needing such security at schools certainly is disconcerting but obviously not nearly as much as recent events.

    Obviously its very easy for us to say we need better mental health care in this country but many clamoring for it now were just recently spouting ideologies contradictory to government funded health care. Funding aside there are also huge civil liberties issues related to committing people against there will and i'll never support trashing one part of the constitution in the name of another. No matter how much we'd like it to be a simple one this is a very complex issue with no clear answers.
  14. ID-shooting

    ID-shooting Well-Known Member

    Here is my beef. I work every day with many of our veterans. The VA has never been what I would consider stellar in dealing with PTSD and depression post deployment but the system is getting much better. Soooo...we have a young kid who just got back from Iraqistan or someplace, is having a rough time adjusting and gets his service connection and treatment for PTSD. Under the guise of "protecting the public from the mentally ill" he ends up on the "do not buy" list the FBI and the ATF keep?

    One week, Private Snuffyis capable pf standing post but the next week he is too crazy to own a gun? See where this goes?
  15. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Well-Known Member

    Mental health is a subjective science. The same docs who give diagnoses of autism and ADD to unruly kids of crappy parents, the same ones who give diagnoses to perverts and murderers..... Now they can label you and take away your 2a rights? Isn't stockpiling ammo and weapons a sign of paranoia? For that matter, why are you carrying concealed? Paranoia? Afraid of something? Read up on how communist Russia used the mental health field like an artist with a brush. Very slippery slope. Institutionalize criminally insane after a criminal act? Yes. Before? No.
  16. guyfromohio

    guyfromohio Well-Known Member

    ID-shooting.... Yes, you get it.
  17. Cesiumsponge

    Cesiumsponge Well-Known Member

    There are millions of lakes across the country that folks swim in. Even in bad weather. There aren't millions of lightning fatalities or even thousands, or hundreds. Your argument supposes that "something could have been done" to stop a rampage killing. There is really nothing that could prevent things like this with absolute certainty.

    You could expend the entire GDP. You'd probably catch a lot more bad guys before they make their move. Maybe even most. Never all. We will never know if implementation of new legislation would prevent something from happening. You can't prove a negative. How many rampage shootings, homicides, and suicides did the 7+ million FBI NICS denials prevent? The answer is probably "some".

    Looking at other nations with laws vastly different or similar to ours, rampage killings still occur. They occur everywhere, but with great infrequency. Arson is still the moat common method and still holds records as the deadliest types of attacks. Americans tend to not really care what happens elsewhere in the world though.

    I've only suggestsd an awareness campaign for mental health. I wouldn't suggest taking away someone's rights to save another. I've dismissed the NRA's attempts at blaming old, old movies and video games to shift blame. I don't think anyone here has suggested locking away anyone who feels a bit depressed.
  18. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Well-Known Member

    I agree that the focus must be on mental illness. But more specifically, no the small number of mentally ill who are VIOLENT when not in treatment. The current laws, including the current gun laws, toss everyone into a "danger to himself or others" category. This is a terrible mistake. It has the effect of punishing the merely depressed while failing to protect society from the truly dangerous. We need to have a separate policy and special attention for those who are prone to murder when off meds. Suicide, while surely a public policy concern, is much further down the list than mass murder. It's not even a crime.

    Those who will start getting instructions on killing people from their cereal bowl if they miss a pill should never be out of an asylum. It was hoped back in the 80's that we would have a cure by now. We don't. It's unlikely we ever will. So that experiment has failed.

    That's a perfect example. PTSD does not make someone a danger TO OTHERS. It can, when coupled with depression, lead to suicide. But that's really a private matter for the person to deal with. It's not our business, frankly. And it certainly doesn't compare with folks who aren't on this planet at all.

    There are already some stop-gaps in place where psychs are permitted to break privilege to warn people of dangerous patients. But beyond telling the person "hey this guy has been having fantasies of torturing you to death," THEY HAVE TO LET HIM GO! If he's stable on meds, and is taking them currently, then by law he's got to be cut loose. That needs to end.
  19. Alaska444

    Alaska444 member

    Since there are many common characteristics of these killers, there is definitely opportunity for authorities to pay closer attention to them. What if a school official had a private but formal conversation with the Sandy Hook shooters mother about securing her weapons from her kid especially if she observed signs of mental deterioration. You don't have to present such a conversation as a homicidal threat, but a suicidal threat since there is overlap between these mass murderers and suicidal ideation as well.


    We have opportunities for intervention and identification of at risk kids. With more research, there may be mental health interventions that could circumvent this early as well. I would point out that the Columbine killers were under mental health care if I recall correctly. That didn't prevent this killing as well. You only have so much you can do in a mental health capacity especially with current mental health laws. Remember, it is not against the law to be crazy. The only time you can intervene and lock them up is when there is a documented danger to self or others identified.
  20. JustinJ

    JustinJ Well-Known Member

    We really have to stop trying to argue that efforts to reduce violence are futile if all violence can't be stopped. Seatbelts and other safety measures in vehicles won't stop all traffic fatalities but one can't rationally argue against their use. Hospitals won't prevent all deaths but one reasonably argue this is a reason to tear them all down. By the same token the possible benefits gained through further gun restrictions may not be worth the price even if some deaths can be prevented.

    I don't know where you get that arson is still the most common attack but even if it were one can't seriously claim that the benefits of housing is negated by fire. Also, there are books of laws in place regarding building code and fire/life safety regulations to mitigate and reduce deaths from fires. While there may still be large numbers of people killed by arsonists in less developed nations modern materials and regulations make it far more difficult to successfully kill large numbers of people this way. Its obviously not impossible but far more difficult and unlikely than many seem to realize.
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