Quote of the day—Paul M. Barrett

A despairing parent gets wide latitude. But the NRA didn’t kill young Chris. Elliott Rodger did.

Paul M. Barrett
May 27, 2014
Santa Barbara Massacre Defies Gun Control, Mental Health Proposals: 4 Blunt Points
[That’s pretty much how I feel about the father of one of the victims as well. I’m not comfortable being critical of his inflammatory and erroneous statements when he is half-crazy with grief. If he keeps it up for a month or two then correcting him in a more firm manner becomes appropriate.—Joe]


44 thoughts on “Quote of the day—Paul M. Barrett

  1. That’s a real inspiring article you linked to. Shows a real “can’t do” attitude — the kind of thing that really drives progress forward. Sheesh.

    How do we know we can’t fix something if we aren’t willing to try? Almost all of the last bunch of mass murderers have been mentally ill in some way or another. Why can’t we get guns out of the hands of the mentally ill?

    • Because the definition of and testing of the mental health of people is far from an exact science.

      Just think about it. Do you want the constant surveillance by the Department of Precrime a part of daily life?

      I suspect it is an unsolvable problem in a free society. But if you have some concrete suggestions I’m willing to discuss them.

      • I’ve actually heard quite a few decent suggestions in the last couple days.

        One was from a gun shop owner who said that mental health records need to be entered in the computer (duh). That’s so basic, yet it appears we aren’t real good at doing it yet.

        Another was a process where family members could petition the court (without filing a restraining order) to have gun rights removed. This would have helped Rodger’s parents even if the police were unwilling to do anything.

        So, there’s a few ideas out there….

        • Think it through. If people know they are going to be entered into a government database if they seek help do you think they are going to be less or more likely to seek help? And they loose specific enumerated rights when they do so? I don’t think is nearly as good an idea as it might appear at first glance.

          How does the court determine whether someone should have their rights removed? Just because the family says so? There are people that believe if you want to exercise your Second Amendment rights that is proof positive that you shouldn’t have a gun. Or if you are sympathetic to the Tea Party. Or if you have a bunch of tattoos. Do you really want for your family to be able to drag you into court because you don’t conform to their vision of political correctness? And do you lose your right to possess large knives, gasoline, and matches after the Court of Precrime concludes you are at risk? Do you go to the psych hospital?

          The devils is in the details. Give me more details if you think this is going down the correct path.

          • We already *know* that people that are afraid their mental health issues will be tracked and used against them tend to avoid ever seeking treatment.

            This was a MAJOR problem with alcoholism in the US military until the 1990s — alcoholics simply didn’t seek treatment.

            It has been a MAJOR problem with military personnel and vets seeking treatment for combat related mental health issues.

            It has been a MAJOR issue for cops and firefighters.

            Etc., etc.

            In other words, we have TRIED the idea of tracking everyone’s mental status in various groups, and gotten the same result every time — by and large, people will avoid treatment or even diagnosis.

          • When someone gets treatment as a juvenile, you think they have a whole lot of say in the matter? Parents and psychiatrists should have more power.

            How does a court determine anything? How do they determine who is right and who is wrong in any disagreement?

            The devil is always in the details but I agree that we shouldn’t keep allowing the mentally ill to have guns. Period. Loughner, Rodger, the Aurora and VT shooters, Lanza — every one of them had mental problems. They were all under the age of 35. There has to be a way to stop them.

          • Geodkyt,

            Untreated mental illness: Maybe this is why we need to empower others so they can petition the courts to have gun rights removed? The person won’t seek treatment even though they need it?

          • ” Maybe this is why we need to empower others so they can petition the courts to have gun rights removed?”

            So let’s say a progressive family has a son that turns out to be a Tea Partier/conspiracy theorist.

            Should he lose his gun rights for having radically different beliefs than his family that, to them, verge on mental illness?

          • Anti,

            What would a judge say? Do you honestly think a judge would rule someone should lose their rights simply because they were a Republican or Libertarian?

          • Considering that political abuse of psychiatry in the past has occurred in other countries like Russia (Pussy Riot was threatened with psychiatric diagnoses for their activism of homosexual equal rights), I wouldn’t be surprised if under your utopia, a judge would find reason to label a subscriber to Alex Jones as “mentally unstable.”

            All forms of speech (until imminent lawless action) and dissent must be protected, including fringe politics.

          • Ubu52,

            Some of the recent mass shooters were under psychiatric care and even with, presumably, that close observation they didn’t see it coming. If their own care providers didn’t think they were a danger to themselves or others then how do you think a judge or jury is going to decide?

            My reluctant conclusion is that this is much like the costs of recreational drug use. There are too many tragedies from the use of recreational drugs but the cost to society of trying to stop that use is greater than the costs of people having the freedom to use them.

            I don’t know that much about mental health in general but I do know a lot about one specific case.

            Mental health is not easily measured and is subject to change. With my ex-wife, in a matter of a few seconds things went from “everything is normal” to she had unbuckled her seat belt, opened the door, and was trying to jump out of the car while we were driving down the Interstate freeway at 60 MPH.

            In hindsight it was much more obvious that was a possibility. The evidence had been building for decades. But “I never imagined it would go that far”. After than incident on January 5, 2012 we independently talked to a counselor and they concluded it “was a one time incident”. After reading much more on the topic I was convinced otherwise and mostly convinced the counselor. I was proven right a few months later.

            Yeah. She was/is a little bit crazy. But even after the first incident I was the only one of all her friends and relatives that really believed she would try again. Even after the second incident her siblings absolutely insisted there was nothing wrong with her and that she should be immediately released from the psych ward.

            In many of the recent cases of mass shooting friends and relatives were concerned about the guy. But mental health professionals didn’t “see it coming”. Even when I was nearly certain it was going to happen again with my ex there was zero possibility that any mental health professional was going to agree to an involuntary confinement. To do so on the basis of the convictions of a family member or two would risk tremendous potential for abuse. A hundred years ago some men had their wives committed to mental institutions on flimsy evidence and then remarried. It was more socially acceptable than divorce.

            My conclusion, for now, is that mental health professionals need to advance their science before we can trust them to make such live altering decisions about people except when there is a history of prior violence. That leaves us with attempting to restrict access to tools and mitigating the damage once the violence begins. Knives, fire, clubs, and vehicles will substitute just fine for guns and will always be available. Yet guns are uniquely capable for stopping someone on a rampage. As disturbing as it appears at first glance I am forced to conclude that the best solution to mass murders is more guns in the hands of the potential victims.

      • Also, why don’t we take a tip from Israel? No guns for people under the age of 45 unless they are in the military or police? Most mental illness shows up in earlier ages.

        • Because no one under the age of 45 will ever need to defend themselves or their homes, right? Are First Amendment rights reserved for those 45 and older too?

        • Considerig that Israel has an effective 100% draft for males (and unmarried females) who aren’t Arabs, and encourages voluntary military participation for all the rest, not at all similar siuations.

  2. Another issue with the article you linked to. It says “He didn’t need large-capacity ammunition magazines; those are already illegal in California. He planned ahead: three pistols in case one jammed, and more than 40 10-round mags, which provided ample ammo for his deadly mission.”

    He had 41 UNUSED FULL 10 round magazines. He had five used magazines. I would like to see the proof that he was able to shoot as many people with 50 rounds as he could have with 150 rounds. From what I saw of the deli shooting (the video), there were a lot of people in that deli who were not shot. I can’t imagine he had an easy time trying to drive and reload and shoot all at the same time. He was not the “practiced shooter” some of you are.

    • http://www.nydailynews.com/news/crime/deranged-santa-barbara-california-killer-tied-premeditated-youtube-video-reports-article-1.1804354

      Rodger actually got out of his car and opened fire at the deli. Grabbing a magazine from your pocket while standing is easier than driving.

      Although from my own personal experience with people attempting to text/put makeup on while driving, people can probably pull off magazine changes pretty easily while driving. He was driving slow enough to have some sort of reasonable aim, he should have been able to still change magazines quickly.

      He was also firing indiscriminately as well – were all of his targets in plain view or not? there’s a huge difference in actual, deliberate targeting vs blasting away like you don’t give a hoot – like this maniac.

      • We’ll have to wait for the report to come out to find out how many bullets he used in the deli.

        As for firing indiscriminately — this is why it’s a good thing he didn’t have a magazine with 30 bullets.

        Also, one more thing — he was having to change magazines in the dark. I’d imagine that’s a little harder for a new shooter under pressure. (Though he actually had 3 loaded guns, so maybe he only did t

        • That posted before I finished my sentence! Anyway, to complete the thought — maybe he only did two reloads? We won’t know until they tell us.

        • “Also, one more thing — he was having to change magazines in the dark.”

          He can easily turn the lights on in his car.

          ” I’d imagine that’s a little harder for a new shooter under pressure. ”

          He also had ample time to practice.

          • You realize, of course, turning the lights on in the car would make him an easier target for police?

            He had ample time to practice, but from his manifesto, he didn’t seem to practice much at all.

    • And in the end, you still can’t give a justification for why somehow 10 rounds is an appropriate limit, when other states have had 15 rounds as a limit – and then NY tried to go to 7 rounds. We really don’t trust you on that issue.

      Or on any other issue.

  3. tell you what, ubu, how come Norway and the Czech Republic allow access to “large magazines” and yet have not suffered the same frequency of mass shootings as the US?

    • Perhaps because Norway has “a Norwegian philosophy that favors involuntary treatment rather than protecting the civil rights of patients who aren’t well enough to know how sick they are.” http://www.schizophrenia.com/sznews/archives/002486.html

      As far as the Czech Republic goes: “There is no constitutional right to possess firearms in the Czech Republic. According to the Czech Constitutional court, the right to possess firearm is not a basic human right and it may not be derived from the right to own property guaranteed by the Art. 11(1) of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms.”

      • Nope. You can’t get a pass here by citing Norway’s approach to mental health, nor the lack of a 2nd Amendment in the Czech Republic.

        Your side has bandied about magazine/assault weapons bans for far too long, saying that it is the ne plus ultra solution – and yet you cannot come up with how these two countries did not flat out ban them and yet they do not have mass murders at the same rate as we do.

    • Access to large magazines has no bearing on the mentally ill and mass shootings. It’s the access to guns that’s the real problem. The large magazines simply help them use the guns more effectively.

      • No. You are focusing like a laser on the wrong target. It’s NOT the gun – that’s just a tool. It’s the mind behind it that is defective. Read the rant of any of them and you see their brains are more than a bubble out of plumb. Mass murder may happen with a knife, home made bomb, machete, gasoline, propane, bleach+ammonia cleaner, off-road truck with a good steel bumper, lots of things. They are not normally used because guns are “classy” and popular in movies, and the mental defectives think they make them macho, because the tough guys always have guns in popular media, and in their delusions they self-identify as the tough guys.
        The fact that as far as I know, every single mass murderer in recent US history (~25 years or so, I’ve seen several different lists) has been on prescription psych meds or meds with known psych side-effects is a far more worrying aspect.
        But in the end, your proposed solution (putting people on government lists that have not yet done anything wrong, list that we KNOW have been abused time and again throughout history) is a violation of basic human rights, the right to access tools suitable for self defense. You have no “right to life,” you DO have a right to defend yourself from attack, just like you have a right to sue for defamation or liable after the fact from what someone says, but you do not have the right to preemptively shut someone up.

        • Rodger wasn’t on prescription meds. He refused to take medications. Did you read his manifesto? He was saving Vicodin and Xanax to commit suicide with. (Both were leftover from when he broke his leg.)

          • My point, exactly – he was mentally unbalanced, and was either on meds, or should have been taking them. The tools don’t make a difference except in method, it’s the mind that is dangerous.

      • How certain are we that without a pistol Mr. Isla Vista Murderer would have only murdered three people with knives, and would not have, with his malignant, evil mind, dreamed up some other method to raise his body count or found others to stab to death?

        • I don’t know if I believe he would have killed the three people with a knife if he didn’t have the gun. He only killed them to get them out of the way so he could go shooting — which he wouldn’t have needed to do if he didn’t have a gun.

          Per his manifesto: “…when the Day of Retribution came, I would have to kill my housemates to get them out of the way.”

          • He could have changed his mind at the last minute and decided to simply sneak the guns and magazines out little by little.

            He spent a year planning this entire spree and he could have easily built bombs like the Minnesota teen who was thwarted in early May, or the Aurora theatre shooter.

    • Ubu, the problem is we look at the purpose of the law two different ways. You see it as a method to control others, especially those with differing opinions than your own.

      Don’t believe me, tell me, why are you so set on removing my ownership of firearms and normal capacity magazines? You want it outlawed despite the fact there is NO evidence that it will actually alter the outcome. What it does do is affect at least 80 Million innocent people who have done nothing to you or anyone else. Think about that number and the scale of each side of this equation.

      I look at the law as a method to protect the innocent from the tyranny of others. This includes someone who has violated someone else, or more importantly preventing the state from prosecuting innocent people for victimless crimes.

      There is no question this is a mental health issue and if you look at the history of mental health in this country you will see there are many issues with it. There are some psychologists who feel gun ownership is an automatic qualifier of a mental disorder. There are others who think that conservatives are broken. I can continue but the issue here is psychology is a soft, not hard, science. And while there are methods to show clear and present issues often people let their biases into the equation.

      Here’s the problem with that, say someone drags me in and say’s I’m mentally unstable. Someone googles my name and see’s I own a firearm. They then call up their buddy who thinks all gun owners are nuts. His testimony is then used against me as the “independent” expert. Is that fair, do I actually have a mental problem? Or was I merely attacked and prosecuted because of my support of a civil right.

      The issue is here we have swung so hard against mental health, because of abuses like the above and others, that commitment without action has become unbelievably difficult. Further as Joe pointed out, many people who do want treatment will not go because they end up stripped of their rights.

      Here’s the way I look at it. If you can prove that someone is a clear danger to society, and can do so before a jury, not just a judge, commit them. Otherwise this is the nature of a free society and is one of the perils. If you had showed any of that info to a jury coupled with his other behavior, it is quite likely he would have been committed.

      If you’re out in public though your rights should not be suspect because frankly if they are such a danger they cannot be trusted with a firearm they cannot be trusted with gas, propane, flour, styrofoam, cars, or any of the numerous other items that can be used to commit mass murder.

      Further, despite the fear mongering of the media, there is not a sudden rapid uptick. The stats year over year, even just measuring by gun violence, are still going down. Even with gun ownership at it’s highest numbers. It isn’t the tool, it’s the person.

  4. This whole mental health argument has Mack truck size holes in it.
    The key assumption is that psychiatry is a science. It is NO such thing. It doesn’t bear ANY resemblance to a science. Consider, for example, that the current issue of the diagnostic manual has an entry whose name I forgot, but it amounts to “generic psychiatric problem” intended to be used when the shrink thinks there’s something wrong with the person but can’t figure out any thing specific to pin on him. With stuff like that going around, you basically end up putting a basic human right explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights at the uncontrolled and unaccountable mercy of a collection of self-selected people.
    Then on the other hand, as the original article points out, a nutcase with reasonable skill can fool shrinks and appear sufficiently sane to pass muster.
    So we have a scheme that on the one hand can readily be used to deny a fundamental right for no reason, and on the other hand cannot reliably detect those it is supposed to catch. So why would anyone advocate this path? Not unless they were looking for yet another illegal way to disarm US citizens, that is?

  5. And again, everyone sounds like the Onion article. “The situation is hopeless. We are totally helpless. This can’t be prevented despite the fact we are the only nation where this type of thing regularly happens.”

    What you lack in imagination you totally make up for with conviction.

    • If you’re going to do nothing but a drive-by post, you should mention something you’ve taken away from the article.

      Or I could do it for you.

      “too little institutionalizing of teenagers and young adults (particularly men, generally more prone to violence) who have had a recent onset of schizophrenia; too little education about the public health impact of untreated mental illness; too few psychiatrists to talk about and treat severe mental disorders — even though the medications available in the past 15 to 20 years can be remarkably effective. ”

      “The most common source of severe psychosis in young adults is schizophrenia, a badly named disorder that, in the original Greek, means “split mind.” In fact, schizophrenia has nothing to do with multiple personality, a disorder that is usually caused by major repeated traumas in childhood. Schizophrenia is a physiological disorder caused by changes in the prefrontal cortex, an area of the brain that is essential for language, abstract thinking and appropriate social behavior. This highly evolved brain area is weakened by stress, as often occurs in adolescence. ”

      “Schizophrenia generally rears its head between the ages of 15 and 24, with a slightly later age for females. Early signs may include being a quirky loner — often mistaken for Asperger’s syndrome — but acute signs and symptoms do not appear until adolescence or young adulthood. ”

      “I write this despite the so-called Goldwater Rule, an ethical standard the American Psychiatric Association adopted in the 1970s that directs psychiatrists not to comment on someone’s mental state if they have not examined him and gotten permission to discuss his case. It has had a chilling effect. ”

      “Severely ill people like Mr. Lanza fall through the cracks, in part because school counselors are more familiar with anxiety and depression than with psychosis. Hospitalizations for acute onset of schizophrenia have been shortened to the point of absurdity. Insurance companies and families try to get patients out of hospitals as quickly as possible because of the prohibitively high cost of care. ”

      Well, at least there’s a money shot there. Prohibitively high cost of care from prolonged hospitalizations.

      • If you want to see a lot of schizophrenics on the internet, look up gang stalking on youtube. Most of them seem harmless enough, but they are crazy.

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