Obama on the CT School Shootings

is live now, speaking at the memorial services for the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings. He also met with the families today.

Here is the transcript of Obama's remarks.

< Saturday Night Open Thread | Sunday Night Open Thread >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    Gun regulations (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Lora on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:23:24 PM EST
    ...seem to work well in other countries.  Don't know why they couldn't work here as well.

    I agree on the mental health issues.  Too many people without proper care.  And we need to look at what circumstances go into the creation of a mindset capable of the destruction of innocents?  (Destruction of their own innocence, perhaps...?)

    I was moved by Obama's speech.

    Work well for smugglers perhaps (1.00 / 2) (#34)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:33:57 AM EST
    "new" study? 2001? (5.00 / 1) (#46)
    by observed on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:19:54 AM EST
    Maybe you can reference a 1927 school bombing too.

    Here's a pertinent fact: people who try to use handguns to defend themselves during assaults are 4-5 times more likely to be shot.Another fact: Australia's gun restriction and buyback was very successful at reducing gun violence.


    Or how about this one (none / 0) (#49)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:27:48 AM EST
    So how about the homicide rate due to (none / 0) (#51)
    by observed on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:37:20 AM EST
    guns, in the US. How's that doing? How is it, compared to, say, Japan?

    So Mass Murder Was as it Highest... (none / 0) (#57)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:26:39 PM EST
    ...when fully automatic guns were legal ?

    So there is a correlation between how many bullets a gun can shoot and the numbers of mass murders ?  Shocker, but it seems like that proves that gun laws work.


    How about now? (none / 0) (#97)
    by Lora on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:18:19 PM EST
    In the 2000s, for example, both the mass murder and the homicide rates dropped to their lowest levels since the 1960s.

    And in the 2010's?


    Incorrect (none / 0) (#148)
    by Eddpsair on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 03:25:38 PM EST

    I would like to see some reasonable discussion here on what can be done, but hyperbole and false statistics are not the way to find consensus

    The" 4 out of 5" comment is not helpful. It is simply factually absurd.  My agency keeps stats for one of the largest states in the US.  The actual stat you highly misquoted is an old one.:  

    In the 1980s, 1 out of 5 (not 4 out of 5) police were killed with their own weapons.  It had nothing to do with civilian gun ownership and the issues are apples and oranges which I would happily explain if you were so inclined.  And again, that stat has gone down for police because of  training  and the wide adoption  of "retention" holsters in the last 15 years.

    Your fraction was inverted, your data was obsolete and the group studied is not even the same as the one you claimed it pertains to.

    Let's please  leave distorted NRA and Brady talking points out of this so we can have a reasoned debate about solutions.  

    I have been shot at by an AR 15 before on two occasions as a cop and many more times as a Marine.  I did not enjoy the experiances.  I am not an NRA member but have had access to firearms since adolescence.  

    I am hoping that I can use that to look objectively at all aspects and work for solutions that will be 1effective and 2 contain enough consensus to become law.


    Obviously you are informed. I think (none / 0) (#149)
    by observed on Thu Dec 20, 2012 at 01:35:42 PM EST
    you misread my comment, however,
    The stat I am referring to is not an old one, but a new one, coming from a comprehensive study of gun safety done from a public health standpoint.
    A person who uses a gun to defend himself in an assault is between 4 and 5 times more likely to be shot, himself.
    Here is a short article with a link to the study.

    Also, this quote:

    On average, guns did not protect those who possessed them from being shot in an assault. Although successful defensive gun uses occur each year, the probability of success may be low for civilian gun users in urban areas. Such users should reconsider their possession of guns or, at least, understand that regular possession necessitates careful safety countermeasures."

    One reads of many "studies" showing that gun ownership is associated with greater personal safety. Sounds like this peer-reviewed study shot that down, decisively.


    Thanks for the link... (none / 0) (#150)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 24, 2012 at 04:54:51 AM EST
    Thanks for the link...

    I peeled the onion back another layer and went to the article on the study, because the article in the link was unabashedly agenda driven.

    Go to the study... They freely admit this is only relevant in urban areas...  

    And if what they are saying is that you are 4 times more likely to get shot if you fight back then if you submit....  I can go with that.  Up until the point they are going to kil you anyways.  

    And once someone already has a gun out, you are at a severe disadvantage.  Some people can handle that situation and some cannot.  

    But this study does not address the overarching question.   1) is violent crime down overall, 2) are there less victims being shot regardless of the %

    The % is not a conclusive number.   We killed a much higher % of our soldiers with friendly fire in Desert Strom then we had in Vietnam or Korea...  But it was only a about a hundred total of about 350 combat deaths...(the Iraqis didn't get many of us)  In Vietnam and Korea it was a much larger number but a very small %.

    So the study really doesn't give you much to go on.  But as a counter argument to show you how leading your interpretation of the data is:

    100% of Texas State Troopers killed in the line of duty have been armed.

    So what conclusion should we draw?  Disarm the police since some still die when armed.

    The bottom line is that violent crime goes down with the advent of CCW permits.   The only issue to debate is the amount it goes down.

    The base theory against guns is that more guns = more crime does not necessarily follow.  Gun sales have skyrocketed over the last 4 years and violent crime has gone down nationally.    Shouldn't it be going up?  Obviously the formula is mor complex then you advocate.

    Go to Eric Holders DOJ website.  Adjust for demographic of Belgium and we have a similar homicide rate to Belgium.  Hmmm.  Got to El Paso, one of the safest towns in the US with gun stores on every corner.  Then cross over to Jaurez, the most dangerous city in the world where the culture is similar but guns are outlawed for civilians....  And tell me again how disarming people is the obvious solution...

    When interviewed in prison, felons reveal that they are more afraid (with good reason) of an armed citizen then an armed cop.  

    Deterrence is a difficult metric but the correlation between CCW and crime rates seems pretty strong.  

    And statistics can be deceiving...  Bear with me here...

    One argument has always been that those not deterred will be more likely to use a gun.  

    So once you have deterred some criminals (those who can be deterred) , the hardcore ones are left.. Those more confrontational and more likely to shoot.  So the armed assailants left are only those most likely to engage....


    Deceptive (none / 0) (#43)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:10:52 AM EST
    The heart of all of this is innocent people being killed by guns.  Per 100,000 there are 9 in the US and .25 in the United Kingdom.  That's 36 times the number of people killed here than in the UK by firearms.

    Stop using irrelevant studies to try and skirt the issue.  Even if you carry the 40% in an equal amount of deaths(which seems very unlikely), that would still leave the UK with .35, we would still have 27 people killed here by a firearm for every 1 in the UK.

    Those laws work if you goal is to reduce deaths by firearms.


    That is a very interesting stat (none / 0) (#55)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:08:24 PM EST

    However, it says nothing about things getting better or worse after the UK instituted the gun ban.  

    Since suicide makes up a majority of US gun deaths it seems like a fairly poor justification for more "feel good" legislation and a diversion of limited public resources,.  



    No (5.00 / 4) (#59)
    by ScottW714 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:36:37 PM EST
    What it says is that the US is failing to keep it's citizens safe from gun related homicides.  That our policies are failures when compared to other industrialized nations.

    Look at the matrix in the link.

    Again, you are being deceptive and trying to cherry pick bits and pieces.  When a look at the overall numbers is what is needed.

    Your flippant attitude about suicide is irritating and callous.  Are you suggesting that no laws should be made if they reduce suicides, or that they just don't matter ?


    The waiting period contained in (none / 0) (#56)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:24:39 PM EST
    the Brady Act had a documented impact on suicides but that provision was phased out in December 1998 to allow gun dealers to do instant background checks.

    The bully pulpit is a great tool, but we all (5.00 / 3) (#24)
    by Anne on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:38:39 PM EST
    know that it's going to come down to money; it always does.

    The states don't have any money, and the federal government is, as we all know, poised to go over a fiscal cliff created by those who benefit from the government spending less money, so it's not going to matter much that Obama's going to call on the Congress or the states to better address mental health treatment.

    Truth is, it's just mind boggling that we should even have to state something so obvious, don't you think?  "We should have better access to and funds for mental health treatment."  No kidding.  

    Better screening and treatment would go a long way to helping a lot of people, but I think you have to face another truth: that most of the people using guns to kill are not mentally ill, so as long as guns are so easy to get, people will continue to die.

    For some reason, we think it's worse when a lot of people die all in one place, at the same time, but a lot more than 26 people die every day from gun violence - and we don't think much about it, really.

    Honestly, we can't even be guaranteed the same treatment from one state to another, we have politicians dreaming up ways to cut the safety net out from under the most vulnerable, and we have states that, even as I write this, are writing legislation to make it possible for more people to legally carry weapons.

    I think the country is mentally ill - what's the treatment for that?

    This is all true (5.00 / 3) (#83)
    by Jack203 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:39:04 PM EST
    But I should point out, this countries mental health treatment was not at fault.

    Adam Lanza and his mother were rich. Extremely rich.  Top 1% rich.  She could have afforded all the mental health in the world, but chose not too.

    From the very limited information I have available, I am definitely assigning some of the blame on her.

    Taking a mentally unstable child to gun ranges with semi automatic assault rifles.  Absolutely disgusting.

    I don't absolve the father from all the blame either.  I have no evidence the brother has any fault in this.


    My thoughts, too (5.00 / 2) (#86)
    by Towanda on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:47:03 PM EST
    when I read about her alimony of more than a quarter of a million dollars per year! with no word that I've read on child support, too.  And some other dynamics of the family are yet to be clarified.

    It does seem consistently reported that the older brother said that he had not even talked with the shooter in more than two years, so did he create distance from his mother, too, as she went into her economic-collapse-survivalism craziness?

    And reports conflict on how long since the father left, but he settled for very little visitation time -- and for that amount of alimony, plus support, he could have had more time if he wanted it, I bet.


    The couple agreed that Adam Lanza, then 16, would live primarily with his mother, but that his father would have "liberal visitation and vacations."

    Yes, but I read how much (none / 0) (#91)
    by Towanda on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:57:04 PM EST
    which was about a month in summer, and some weekends during the year.

    That's not much -- but it ought to have been enough to find out that he was being taken target shooting . . . if the agreement was met in recent years.  And even so, the agreements end at eighteen years old.  So we will see how much he saw of his father lately.


    Also, it looks like Adam was able to drive, reportedly the mom wanted him to be as mainstreamed as possible, so he may have been taking himself target shooting.

    Though, of course, his mom knew about it, she is reported to have told a friend that Adam had taken up shooting as a hobby.

    If he had not shown a particularly violent side previous to Friday, I'm not sure I'd be so quick to point the finger at her.


    Our sources differ (none / 0) (#114)
    by Towanda on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:46:31 PM EST
    on the roles, the agency of the mother -- as well as the absence of the father -- so, we will have to await clarification.  The cops seem to have some insight from information they found, according to some sources.  And the brother's story could be telling, if he is allowed to tell it.

    He had established a very effective technique (5.00 / 1) (#103)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:38:19 PM EST
    I have heard announcers say things about video games but I have never seen video game experience transpose instantly onto being proficient in any weapon use.  In being surrounded by individuals who are constantly graded on their weapon proficiency it seems immediately obvious to me that he had established a weapon preference and used it in such a fashion as one who has trained to be deadly proficient in its use.

    This is interesting (5.00 / 2) (#35)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 08:51:45 AM EST
    Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said the recent mass shooting at a Connecticut elementary school has "changed the dialogue" on gun control and called for "action" to prevent future tragedies.

    "It's time to move beyond rhetoric, we need to sit down and have a common sense discussion and move in a reasonable way," Manchin said Monday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "This has changed the dialogue and it should move beyond dialogue -- we need action."
    Manchin has been a strong advocate of gun ownership rights and was endorsed by the National Rifle Association Political Victory in October with an "A" rating.

    Which way will this go - real legislation or this:

    Manchin also praised Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) who on Sunday called for a "national commission on violence" which would examine not only gun laws, but entertainment culture and mental health care.


    This is even more interesting (5.00 / 2) (#40)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:34:49 AM EST
    and has the possibility to have a greater effect.

    Media mogul Rupert Murdoch has called on United States lawmakers to ban automatic weapons following the Connecticut school massacre, alluding to Australia's response to the Port Arthur massacre.

    The News Corp chairman used the social media platform Twitter to express frustration at the easy availability of automatic and semi-automatic guns in his adopted country.

    'Terrible news today,' he tweeted. 'When will politicians find courage
    to ban automatic weapons? As in Oz after similar
    tragedy.' link

    Back in 1996, Australia imposed a much stricter version of the assault weapons ban after a mass shooting. The Australian version did not carry many of the loopholes in the U.S. law: Not only did the country ban all types of semiautomatic rifles, it also spent $500 million buying up existing guns from private owners.

    As Wonkblog's Sarah Kliff pointed out, Australia's law appears to have curbed gun violence. Researchers in the British Medical Journal write that the ban was "followed by more than a decade free of fatal mass shootings, and accelerated declines in firearm deaths, particularly suicides."

    Still, it's unclear whether Congress would go for anything that sweeping. Over the weekend, Feinstein explained that her new version of the assault weapons ban would still "exempt over 900 specific weapons." link

    Is our Congress capable of drafting legislation without loopholes big enough to drive a truck through?


    No. NRA wields too much power over the (5.00 / 2) (#41)
    by Angel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:43:24 AM EST

    So far today I've heard (5.00 / 4) (#47)
    by brodie on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:21:40 AM EST
    Rep Jerry Nadler and usually moderate-to-a-fault ex gov Ed Rendell both call for gun control legislation that goes farther than the weak tea DiFi offering.

    Wow.  Only 900 types of weapons exempted under Di's bill.  With apparently a provision allowing owners of semi auto assault weapons currently to keep their wmd's.  Only operates prospectively.

    Imagine the run on these semi-auto assault weapons at the gun stores if DF's bill gets traction and attention.

    Nadler wants a buy back provision for banned weapons, then after that they are illegal.

    The one provision of DF's bill I think is good and tough enough for the occasion is the prohibition on clips larger than 10 rounds.


    Maybe DiFi's bill should be named (5.00 / 4) (#52)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:42:46 AM EST
    the Gun Sellers Prosperity bill.

    Imagine the run on these semi-auto assault weapons at the gun stores if DF's bill gets traction and attention.

    As always, what initially sounds good is weak tea. We know by experience that the exemptions that DiFi is proposing makes the so called ban much more toothless than it needs to be.


    I wonder (none / 0) (#62)
    by Towanda on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:04:09 PM EST
    whether, in response to the gunlovers who cling to their Second Amendment in the Constitution as their Bible:

    What about my life?  my liberty and my pursuit of happiness, not possible if living in fear? (as a teacher at a campus in a state too cheap to provide preventive protections, such as those at the private campus down the street)  

    What about the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness no longer applicable to . . . is it more than a hundred dead in these mass murders in the last year alone?  more than a thousand in how many years?

    I guess that the legalistic response is that this argument does not apply -- that our lives, liberty, and pursuit of happiness don't matter, because that phrase is not from the Constitution but in the Declaration of Independence.  But I'm searching for arguments against this philosophical stance on the Second Amendment.  

    I have lots of replies at the ready to the more specific arguments, such as that we require that drivers be insured, so why not gun owners -- and by risk level, so higher for those with high-risk family members at home.  Or such as that we tax, say, cigarettes -- so why not tax ammo?  I saw an estimate that the hundreds of bullets in the Connecticut school added up to less than $20.  At the same tax rate as cigarettes in my state, 20 bullets could cost $7-$8, so hundreds would cost $100s of dollars.  It wouldn't stop deranged people with a lot of money, like Lanza and his mother, but might it at least reduce the number of victims mowed down by these mass murderers and other gun-happy hotshots hyped on testosterone?


    I understand and share your frustration (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:18:30 PM EST
    Unfortunately, I think that the only response you would get to "What about my life?  my liberty and my pursuit of happiness, not possible if living in fear"? is that you must arm yourself with the same type of fire power. For example this would be the solution offered:

    "I wish to God she had had an M4 in her office locked up so when she heard gunfire she pulls it out and she didn't have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, when she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," Gohmert said on "Fox News Sunday." link

    I wish to God (none / 0) (#82)
    by Jack203 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:35:24 PM EST
    The principal was an Ex Navy Seal too.

    M4 training is not a core competency of being an elementary school teacher.


    Everytime someone brings up the "we license (5.00 / 2) (#68)
    by caseyOR on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:41:12 PM EST
    drivers" argument I just shake my head. And I shake my head because when I was a high school freshman, back in 1966, our debate topic that year was gun control. And one of my arguments in favor was that same "we license drivers" argument.

    Here we are, 46 years and countless senseless deaths later, and we are still fighting this fight. And we're using the same arguments. They are valid arguments in favor of gun control, but, my goodness, how is it that we have made no progress on this very pressing issue? How is it that things have gotten worse?


    Democrats are not perfect (none / 0) (#89)
    by Jack203 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:54:47 PM EST
    But at least we're not nuts.

    Good bumper sticker (5.00 / 2) (#95)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:12:42 PM EST
    "Not very good but at least we aren't nuts."

    Not being nuts deprives them of that excuse if they agree to domestic and safety net programs cuts currently being negotiated with Boehner.

    If it weren't for the Republicans being bat sh!t crazy, those cuts would have been a done deal last July.


    I just had this horrible thought (4.25 / 4) (#37)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 09:35:49 AM EST
    Lieberman is making a job for himself as head of this "national commission on violence" and we will have to listen to his whinny voice non-stop proposing Republican "solutions" for years to come. The nightmare gets worse - who else would he appoint to this commission but his two amigos. The combination of Lieberman, McCain and Graham is not only horrifying but a sure fire way to guarantee nothing good will be  accomplished.

    Hopefully I'm just having a bad dreams or a reaction from not having enough caffeine.

    Will go get more coffee.


    Like you, I want nothing more (5.00 / 4) (#64)
    by shoephone on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:22:19 PM EST
    than for Joe Liarman to go away and STFU forever.

    And, (none / 0) (#67)
    by lentinel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:34:40 PM EST
    lest we forget, Liarman was the Democratic candidate for Vice-President in 2000. Go Dems!

    Access to MH care is only one (5.00 / 1) (#54)
    by Reconstructionist on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:03:47 PM EST
     of the issues. A vitally important and very complex part of the equation is how would we manage the dessiions of when and by what means peole are coerced to accept "care" they don't want. We could make therapy (drug or otherwise) readily available but that doesn't mean those most in need will choose to avail themselves of it. We could build and staff the best possible institutions and make them affordable but that wouldn't assure that the people who most need to be in them are in them.

      What we are calling "care" necessarily involves substantial deprivations of liberty. Whether forcing people to take medicine they don't want to take or forcing them to live where they don't want to live, it's not as simple as build it and they will come. Some people won't want to come and it's probably not a stretch to specualate that among that group will be some of the highest risk people.

    A substantial deprivation of liberty (5.00 / 3) (#58)
    by jondee on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:28:11 PM EST
    is a bunch of children being mowed down by bullets, and vulnerable children having to grow up tormented by the nightmares and the excess anxiety that comes with knowing that someone's egocentric-adolescent concept of abstract "liberty" trumps the commonsense acknowledgement that there are always rules and trade-offs in life..

    That we don't know it will be 100% watertight effective at all times is no reason not to, for instance, work to make mental health care available for more people, particularly children and adolescents.    


    Well, some things never change. (none / 0) (#60)
    by Reconstructionist on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:39:35 PM EST
      Nowhere in that post could a person with a slight semblance of rational understanding find anything even remotely suggestive of opposition to an  improved mental health treatment system.

      Unless you can respond in an even slightly rational  manner why don't you do us both a favor and just ignore my posts.


    Sorry, I thought for a minute you (none / 0) (#61)
    by jondee on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 12:55:07 PM EST
    you were simply rewording what Thomas Szaz has been saying (over-and-over again) for the last fifty years, and basically offering up nothing but the imagined downsides and 'threats to liberty' involved in increasing the availibility mental health services..



    Not Recon... (5.00 / 4) (#71)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:23:35 PM EST
    he don't play tired talking points, that man is an original thinker and honest debater, imo.

    I think I agree too...if we wanna prioritize our spending (finally!), and make mental health care available free on demand, I'm down with that...as long as doctor/patient confidentiality is fully maintained.  But when you start talking about forced commitment to mental hospitals or forced drugging, you lose me and fast.  What a tyrannical dystopian nightmare that world would be...


    kdog what do you suggest? (5.00 / 2) (#100)
    by smott on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:27:11 PM EST
    At what point would you resort to forced institutionalization and/or forced medication?

    Say you've got a violent, bi-polar/schizoid 20yr old son living in your house w you and your younger children? Who regulalry makes threats to harm you/your kids/himself, and regularly has blowups when he becomes raging and violent?

    Anyone esp parents will recoil at the notion of forced in-pat...

    But where do you draw the line when you are in fear of physical harm to you or you children?


    Personally... (none / 0) (#121)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:06:52 AM EST
    I'd draw the line at violence...forced institutionalization and/or forced drugging should only be considered when there is a history of violent acts.  And even then, only considered.  And I'd be even more apprehensive about the drugs...locked in a padded room can be torturous enough, never mind f*cking with someone's mind via drugs.

    There should definitely be no such thing as "pre-emptive" forced institutionalization or drugging based on suspicion or vague "warning signs".

    I hear you guys that it is very complex and the furthest thing from easy...I just think you always err on the side of individual liberty.  The mentally ill have inalienable rights too, absent violent behavior those rights should not be questioned or lessened in the least.

    An old friend of mine was committed against his consent, as an adult, by his parents.  I don't know the law or how they pulled it off, maybe they conned him into signing something, but he was imprisoned in a hospital all the same.  It didn't help...it only made him distrust his parents and mental health professionals even more.  And he never laid a finger on nobody, though he did have serious mental problems.  The drugs made him a zombie, and he described taking them as torturous...far worse than the symptoms of his illness.


    I'm no expert (none / 0) (#127)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:56:37 AM EST
      but I believe most jurisdictions already draw the line before that. Meaning it's not necessary to prove a history of violent acts but only a combination of probable mental illness and the expression of violent or suicidal ideation to establish the person is an imminent threat to himself or others.

      I understand your concerns which are fundamental ones, but a blanket rule of no "pre-emptive" state action in the absence of a history of violent acts would likely (I have no actual data to provide, just a supposition) "miss" many of the people with whom we are concerned. How many of the recent persons who engaged in these types of killings had a documented history of prior violent acts? I don't know but I'm pretty sure some of them did not. Either they had not previously committed violent acts or there was no record of them having done so.


    Better to miss... (none / 0) (#132)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:17:30 AM EST
    a potential threat than to imprison or drug a non-threat.  Same concept as better to allow 100 guilty men to go free than to imprison one innocent.

    Similar perhaps but not the same.... (none / 0) (#133)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:37:42 AM EST
     and, again, more complicated. In Blackstone's dictum, we are assuming as objective fact the many are guilty and the one is innocent.

       Here, no one is "guilty" in terms of providing a basis for deprivation of liberty. That makes it more of a dilemma on "both sides" of the equation because we can't divide people into 2 neat classes such as guilty and innocent.

      Almost everyone agrees no one should be punished for something that he did not do. Many, maybe even most, agree that allowing some guilty  to escape punishment in the interest of preventing unjust punishment is warranted.

      Civil commitment, is not intended to be punishment. Now, you will rightly retort that intent or not such actions impose sanctions with punitive effect, but because the goal is very different than the goal of the criminal justice system the analogy you employ is imperfect.

      By definition coerced mental health "care" is intended to be solely a preventive measure (although the outcomes to be prevented may be multiple). Penal sanctions for criminal conduct are intended to serve many purposes and prevention while among them is not the only goal.



    It may not be intended... (none / 0) (#134)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:08:14 AM EST
    to be punishment, but I'd imagine that is what it feels like.  Simply calling it a hospital instead of a prison doesn't really change much...locked up is locked up.

    Yes it is (none / 0) (#136)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:17:52 AM EST
     which is why I started raising the issue of this being a very complicated issue.

    For sure it is... (none / 0) (#137)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:42:26 AM EST
    for sure it is Holmes.  

    My mom used to volunteer at (none / 0) (#140)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:05:58 PM EST
    Greystone back when I was a kid, and we often were required to tag along.

    It always seemed pretty creepy to us, but in retrospect the people we saw, anyway, were mostly walking around outside on the grass and sitting in chairs getting some sun.

    The people working there certainly seemed nice, no Nurse Ratcheds that I can remember seeing. I don't think we actually ever went inside, so I don't know what went on in there.

    However, since in my experience it seems the people who simply need meds don't even want to take them, so being forced to stay in an institution would be like being jailed.


    Seems obvious, but (5.00 / 1) (#144)
    by Lora on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:25:13 PM EST
    if you have an individual with psychiatric issues living with you, wouldn't you think it a no-brainer to make sure that individual had absolutely no access to any guns you yourself might own?

    If the issues (none / 0) (#145)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 05:37:33 PM EST
     were of the type to raise concern he might become violent yes, absolutely.

     At this point, I'm still refraining from making judgments because not only do we have limited information,I'm not sure that the information we have is accurate. Given the media's abhorrent performance in reporting this I'm waiting before condemning the mom.

      Not all psychological issues manifest themselves in a propensity for violence. In fact, most do not. If it becomes evident a reasonable person in mom's position would have cause to believe Adam presented a risk of violence then she shares blame. It's also not established as fact that she allowed him access to the guns on Friday. He could have forced her to give him keys or the combination to a safe or unbeknownst to her  he might possibly have known where she hid the keys. I haven't even seen anything yet  establishing as  certainty  these were her guns.

      Granted, that is rank speculation on my part but withholding judgement until more is known from the official investigation doesn't hurt anything.


    it's a developmental disorder, if indeed the reports are true that he was Asperger.

    I'm NOT saying (none / 0) (#98)
    by Reconstructionist on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:19:27 PM EST
      the government should never have the power to restrict a person's liberty because of a  mental illness that renders a person a danger to himself or others. I'm not even necessarily  opposing increasing the power the government currently    I'm only saying the issues surrounding the exercise of that power are extremely complex.



    Completely agree (none / 0) (#116)
    by smott on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:14:10 PM EST
    It is terribly complex.
    Taking away someone's liberty even for a short period can do irreparable damage to their relationships with parents/family that forced them to in-patient care or institutionalization or whatever.

    I do not know all the state laws but in general (please correct if I'm off base) I understand that once a Dr and the police agree that the patient is "A danger to themselves, or others" then involuntary commitment becomes available....but that may only be for a few days.

    So then, you as a parent come back home with a kid who is even more enraged and less likely to trust you or listen to you or try to get better.

    It's an awful, awful situation, and families wind up actually kicking the depressed individual out on the streets in order to preserve the safety of the rest of their family. SO now you've got a mentally unstable person on the streets. It all gets worse.

    Or....families wind up unable to make that confrontation.  A friend of mine has a family member who's in his 50's now....without work, still depressed, still living on his parent's couch.

    It's a terrible situation.


    I hear ya... (none / 0) (#122)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:08:32 AM EST
    As a liberty extremist, I'd probably be more apprehensive about it than others...especially the drugs.  Locking somebody up is an awesome power to grant the state, forced medicating even more so, imo.

    I agree, kdog (none / 0) (#123)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:02:08 AM EST
    I had a huge argument with one of my friends over the weekend about this.  She thinks that people like Adam Lanza should be "locked up" pre-emptively.  I asked her who would make that decision and she said, "Well, his doctor must have known that he was not right in the head."  I answered that there are plenty of people whom doctors, family, teachers, co-workers, neighbors, etc, think are "not right in the head" (hey, her words, not mine- she's 74 years old, and I give her a bit of leeway for unfortunate terminology), but that never do anything violent in their lives.  So, who does she want making that decision, when they have not done anything, and don't even present a clear threat to themselves or others that would get them "locked up" even temporarily?  And, as others have stated, even if they get the patient stabilized on meds, they cannot force him to take them or continue seeing a professional after he is released.
    She then said that they should be kept "locked up."
    At which point I sort of lost my cool (not that I yelled or anything*) and said, "So, do you really want your kids, your grand-kids, your doctor, your neighbors, deciding that you're a bit "strange" and they call someone to take you away?  Do you want the government making this decision?  Really?  Because, I'll guarantee you, some day, somebody is going to decide to come after you and lock you up."  

    *Well, I did say a few unfortunate words in Greek.  She is also Greek-American, and speaks Greek, so she understood those, even if nobody around us did.


    My sentiments exactly... (5.00 / 2) (#124)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:29:02 AM EST
    It is simply too awesome a power to grant the state, a doctor, even a parent.  How many show the "signs", as vague and open to interpretation as the "signs" are, and never hurt a fly?

    As sad as it is to say, we really have no choice but to wait for violence to occur before even beginning to discuss such responses...anything less is a frighteningly cruel tyranny.

    I mentioned my old friend, I've seen first hand what heavy-duty psychiatric drugs can do to people, what forced hospitalization can do...that sh*t can kill souls.


    Seems to me "the state" is more (none / 0) (#126)
    by Anne on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:49:45 AM EST
    concerned with finding reasons why it cannot help than reasons why it should.  Why?  Because it costs too much, of course, and much of the cost of care falls on the states, which have no money for things that require more than cursory attention.

    The streets and shelters are filled with people who used to be institutionalized, but were turned out so they could be treated "in the community."  Unfortunately, the communities not only didn't have the money, but no one wanted them in group homes in their neighborhoods.

    There are ordinary families of modest means who have struggled and fought for their loved ones to get the help they need - often to no avail.  Insurance companies don't really want to pay, and if your child is an adult, well, that's a whole other bureaucratic nightmare.

    We need sensible gun policy AND we need to address the sad state of mental health care in this country; BOTH things will benefit us as a nation.


    I agree that (none / 0) (#128)
    by Zorba on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:01:23 AM EST
    We need sensible gun policy AND we need to address the sad state of mental health care in this country; BOTH things will benefit us as a nation.

    But the reality is that, even if we had unlimited money, a group home and a counselor on every corner, and trained social workers going out to work with, not just the homeless, but anyone identified as extremely troubled, we still cannot force people to accept the help.  Yes, many, many more would be helped who are not now.  But there would still be plenty who would reject that help.

    The sensible gun policy would also help enormously, and I hope it happens.  

    But I'm afraid that what we really need is a profound change in the whole mind-set of our country and our culture.


    Worth mentioning.... (none / 0) (#130)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:07:02 AM EST
    part of the reason we no longer institutionalize at the same rate as in the past is some of our state institutions were houses of f*ckin' horrors.  It wasn't all about money...remember Willowbrook?

    Also worth mentioning: (none / 0) (#131)
    by oculus on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:11:21 AM EST
    persons institutionalized for mental disorders were out of sight and out of mind.

    I think (none / 0) (#129)
    by smott on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 10:05:34 AM EST
    ...this may be why, in despair, some families actually kick the ill member out of the household - in an effort to preserve the safety of other people there. I have another friend who knows someone who did this....they kicked their 20-something depressed disruptive son out...he lived under bridges for awhile and finally got himself to therapy where he met a woman in the same boat and they stuck together and now are married and doing OK.

    Meanwhile the stress on the parents and children takes its toll. The mother wound up with brain cancer and passed away.

    Anyway - I hear you kdog, and the trouble is we end up choosing whose individual liberty to take away.  In preserving the liberty of the depressed person, we wind up taking it away from the family members who live in fear and stress (or indeed taking away the right to life of the victims should things go really bad)...


    We totally agree... (5.00 / 1) (#135)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:16:14 AM EST
    on the complexity smott, and I don't mean to discount the hardship on the family and the position they are in.  But suffering caused by the state and the law is a different animal than suffering caused by an individual.  

    The state and the law must be held to a much higher standard, an infinitely higher standard.


    National Data Base like NCIC but protected (5.00 / 1) (#75)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:12:00 PM EST
    Huffington post had an excellent article titled, "I Am Adam Lanza's Mother".  

    Amid all the problems she identifies, the only current solution there seems to be is the criminal justice system to get the disturbed child, "in the system".

    I am way out of my depth here, but the purpose of a criminal arrest seems to be to get them into NCIC data base so authorities have broad instant access to them when they are encountered.  

    Is it unreasonable to consider setting up another national data base that mirrors NCIC but strictly for mental issues?  It could have levels of caution just like A/B/C misdemeanor and 1/2/3 felonies but without the stigma or need for an actual criminal arrest which is obviously the wrong tool.  

    Convictions are public records but arrests are not, so access to the data base could be limited along the same lines.  The data would be available to authorities but not the public without a court order.

    My point is that everyone locally says, "no surprise" but without a criminal act or a clear cut mental issue there is no identification of the problem people.

    The first step in controlling a problem is identifying it.


    A gut wrenching read. (none / 0) (#77)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:39:25 PM EST
    However I wonder just how well she knows what Adam was like.  Unlike her child, Michael, there are no reports of previous violence and rage from Adam, that I could find anyway. Just the opposite, in fact.

    Agree (none / 0) (#96)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:15:52 PM EST
    Point well taken, and I agree, but the issue I was trying to address was getting them into the system, as the article puts it, just a different system.

    From my experience with a family member (none / 0) (#101)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:28:34 PM EST
    presently a citizen must prove themselves to be a threat to themselves or someone else in order to be forced by the gvt to get mental health care. In my experience, that gvt mandated health care ends as soon as the patient is deemed no longer a threat. ie, often after only a few days of being forced to take their meds.

    Getting them stable and then released (5.00 / 2) (#107)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:04:17 PM EST
    after a couple of days is not the answer. From what I can determine it is rare that the docs get the combination of meds correct the first time around. Often the meds must be adjusted several times before they will be effective. There needs IMO to be longer term programs where the patients can be monitored at in house facilities and better follow up programs available when they are released.

    IMO a lot more research needs to be done to finds better treatments or cures.


    Could not agree more. (5.00 / 1) (#108)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:09:22 PM EST
    Getting them stable and then released
    after a couple of days is not the answer

    System (none / 0) (#110)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:23:13 PM EST
    I will defer to any family member who has experiance with this, but in my fairly rare encounters with "consumers" beyond the state mandated training courses, the current legal system is not the right tool, but it seems to be the only one available.  

    You can't get them the proper care without a documented trail and the only trail that has broad access is the criminal justice system.  I think that is why the focus is on immediate threat to themselves or another.   That phrase is the basis of law enforcement action.  So that is how THAT system is designed.


    I have dealt with the commitment process. (5.00 / 2) (#118)
    by caseyOR on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:50:28 PM EST
    It is very hard to get someone civilly committed to a psychiatric facility. It is difficult because most states have laws that, quite understandably, make it difficult. It should be hard to take someone's freedom away.

    In most, maybe all, states someone must be a present danger to themselves or others for the process to even begin. Someone, usually the police, takes the person to a local hospital's psych ward and the person is put on a 72 hour hold. During that 72 hours the family or friends or whoever called the police, must appear at a civil court proceeding and convince a judge that the person needs residential treatment in a state facility. Trust me, it is hard to prove that someone is an immediate danger to themselves or others.

    The ill person also appears at the hearing and has a lawyer. If the judge decides that commitment is warranted, the person is committed to the care of the state for some period of time. In Oregon that is 6 months.

    Even with the court order, it can be hard to find a bed in the state facility. It is almost impossible to find an available bed in local psych wards. And if you are lucky enough to get a bed, treatment is perfunctory. The goal is to get someone stabilized on meds and out of the hospital. People go off their meds regularly for all kinds of reasons, but for the 6 months of the court order people have a big incentive to stay on their meds.

    Once the time period of the commitment order ends, well, all bets are of.

    Being the person who acts to have a loved one committed is horrible. You act out of love and concern and fear for your loved one. Your heart is in the right place. You accept that your loved one may never forgive you. You deal with guilt, lots of guilt, about committing someone. You hope against hope that it helps, that your loved one gets proper treatment and stays on their meds and has access to quality therapy. In reality, hardly any of that happens. And you cling to the thought that they are not dead.


    Civil commitment does not create (none / 0) (#119)
    by caseyOR on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:52:32 PM EST
    a criminal justice system trail. If someone is in the criminal justice system, even someone who is obviously mentally ill, they are much more likely to get sent to prison, not the hospital.

    But then... (none / 0) (#125)
    by kdog on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 09:33:27 AM EST
    you run into people being afraid to seek help, lest they end up in the "loony database".  It would give me pause in seeking help, or give me pause to seek help for my child.

    It could never be truly confidential if law enforcement can access it.


    Mental data base (none / 0) (#138)
    by Eddpsair on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 11:57:09 AM EST

    I would see the mental data base as being populated by "incident reports". When the police show up, or are contacted by a concerned teacher or a parent, but don't have the elements of a crime, they would create a paper trail.   Current police "incident reports"  must have a criminal nexus.  These  reports would not.  And they would be filed separately in a different database.

    If the incidents are above a predetermined level, it flags things like the "instant background check".  

    I am spitballing here, but the people who are concerned about slowly escalating propensity to violence have no real place to go and make a report that is not highly compartmentalized.  In the Colorado case, the College was taking administrative action and reporting where they felt they could.  But there was no link between the escalating mental health concerns and the purchase of the firearms.   There was a clear firewall between the two contemporaneous occurrences.

    It is obvious in retrospect that if someone had put the reports from the college together with the purchase of firearms, somebody could have intervened.  

    We have special investigators trained to deal with child victims in every major department in the country.   So have trained investigators to review these incident reports.  


    How would you balance (none / 0) (#139)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:05:40 PM EST
     the privacy rights and interests of the individuals on one side against the practical efficacy of the proposed database?

      For just one example, under what circumstances would government actors be permitted to access this database? Would a cop be able to examine the records withing he pulled you over for a traffic infraction, if police were called to your home for for disturbance, if you created a scene in a shopping malll and so forth.

      Additionally, what level of due process would be afforded before any information was put in the database in the first place? How would one be able to get erroneous information removed? How would one know there was erroneous information in the first place?

      would police have any greater leeway to detain a person with a "flagged" record in the database than they would a person who enagaed in the same behavior but lacked sucha record?

      We could go on and on with this line but you get my point.,


    If I may....IMO, (none / 0) (#141)
    by vicndabx on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:33:45 PM EST
    I would think this DB should only be used when you are looking to gain access to something that can cause harm to others, e.g. guns, explosives, dangerous chemicals.

    I think enough is known about mental disease to provide appropriate stratification for those that would preclude access to dangerous items.

    Either that or exclude everyone and require sufficient evaluation prior to obtaining.


    Great Questions (none / 0) (#142)
    by Eddpsair on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:34:30 PM EST
    Great questions, Recon.   And I share your concerns.  

    The short answer is to make this a layer of the instant checks and the concealed weapons permits process.

    My idea, is to create a data base that has incidents on a scale similar to ABC Misdemeanor and 123 Felony.  Not all incidents have the same weight.  

    If I call the cops and say "Recon is a nut case" because I am angry your dog got into my trash can, it wouldn't generate a report.  But if parents or "professionals" as my state defines them in the penal code, "teacher, health care professional, police" generates a report, it would probably stick.  

    Maybe a point system.   When you have enough incidents of enough gravity, it triggers a flag which delays gun purchases and CCW until a set of eyes can be put on the purchase for review.  When you cross a threshold, a review of the data by a mental health professional would be mandatory.  Possible seizure of all firearms in the persons possession until a preponderance of evidence hearing to get them back is convened....  

    Yes, police would absolutely have access to it.  They are the ones who would be on the pointy end of the procedures to intervene so you can't send them in blind.   Nevertheless, the data can be protected. Make it a crime to be released to a third party.  Give the crime enough weight to automatically cost him his badge or write that specifically into the legislation..."unauthorized disclosure of the information contained by any professional (as defined above) will result in revocation of the Law enforcement certification, teaching certificate, or medical lisence in this state."

    Appeal or expungement would be a remedy for erroneous or exaggerated data contained in the file that is disputed.

    That's the best I can do for now.  :-).  Your thoughts?


    I have many many thoughts (none / 0) (#143)
    by Reconstructionist on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 01:06:07 PM EST
     but will give just a few.

      First, I think it is valuable for people to just toss things out for consideration and then refine or dicard after hashing it out in discussion.

      Beyond that, I have GRAVE concerns about  what I think you are getting at.

      It sounds unacceptably subjective depsite your proposal to classify and scale information placed in the database.

      I can't possibly support a system where the information's inclusion is based upon who made a report rather than the substance of the information and the evidentiary substance supporting the allegations. Criminal databases such as NCIC contain only objective data: arrest/conviction information, disposition etc. That's a lot different than "acted strangely" or "exhibited symptoms of __" and so forth.

      Moreover, it would require a rather drastic  curtailment of existing privacy rights to allow mental health information such as prior hospitalizations, treatment, diagnoses etc to be communicated without a court order authorizing such release.

      I think it was Kdog above who pointed out that the knowledge seeking help would lead to a big brother file being created would discourage people (who might just be paranoid-- not kidding) from seeking help. That could lead to problems as bad or worse than the ones intended to be solved.

      I also worry that even "good" information in such a database could lead to unecessarily bad and avoidable outcomes. The cops get called to my house based on a 911 call reporting arguing. Before responding they look me up and decide that because I have been "flagged" in the past. That might cause the cops to respond in a manner (guns drawn, doors kicked in) that trigger a violent response that could have been avoided by a more measured response (admittedly that is more of a concern about misuse of the information rather than the concept of collecting it)


    Noted (none / 0) (#147)
    by Eddpsair on Wed Dec 19, 2012 at 02:53:14 PM EST
    The intent is to keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not have access to them.  Currently, Instant checks do not include mental health unless the person is extreme and it has made its way into NCIC.

    This does not necessarily mean unfettered access to an individual's  mental health records without a court order. This means when "professionals" as previously defined are specifically called in, the generated report goes in a separate data base.  

    The "joker" is a case in point. When the College was doing everything within its power to protect its people administratively and they had discussion with the police, that information went nowhere.   No crime had been committed or specifically threatened. Meanwhile the joker was buying weapons and because he had no record,  the instant checks had nothing to flag him on.   If the police knew that he was buying weapons, I am pretty sure they would have been proactive.

    Currently, unless a clear cut violation of the law takes place, no record goes into NCIC.  Most encounters with "consumers" will not generate a report in NCIC.

    If a tree falls in the Forrest and nobody hears.....  You know the rest.

    If the "professionals" are concerned enough to input into the data base, then it flags attempts at gun purchases if those concerns reach a threshold...

    I understand your privacy concerns.  And I really am sympathetic.  

    But i am talking a specific data base to a "mentally stable" aspect to instant checks for firearms purchases based on brushes with authorities of outcries by mental health professionals.

    All the person knows is that he gets is "denied" and law enforcement is flagged to look into it.   Heck, it is not even an automatic rejection, just delayed until someone can look at the totalitity of the circumstances.  

    Currently, if someone generates an incident or concerns in 3 different cities, there is no way for the others to be aware unless they are law violations.  

    Hope that helps.   Thanks for the input.


    If (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by lentinel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:26:21 PM EST
    mental health is an issue, I must say that the war in Afghanistan, the drones in Pakistan and elsewhere, the coining of phrases which dehumanize us - such as "collateral damage), kill lists,  the search and destroy video games (Merry Christmas!), our apparent national ambivalence about torture, the cop shows which feature graphic presentations of "spatter" (blood) ,"vics" 'the victims) and "decomp" (meaning bodies), and our checkered history of genocide toward the Native Americans, slavery and the mistreatment of minorities...and recently the wanton slaughter of over 100,000 Iraqis...

    to which I will add the looming crisis of global warming about which no one is doing anything, and the ever present potential of nuclear catastrophe...

    none of the above is supportive of mental health...

    I wonder... (5.00 / 1) (#70)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:18:17 PM EST
    if it's the modern world f*ckin' with our mental health, in oh so many ways.  I've often said if it wasn't for the sweet leaf, I'd be in the loony bin.

    Lets just hope whatever the response is, it doesn't carry the unintended consequence of making us collectively crazier.



    Amen (none / 0) (#74)
    by lentinel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:01:41 PM EST
    Lets just hope whatever the response is, it doesn't carry the unintended consequence of making us collectively crazier.


    Early signs are not good... (5.00 / 2) (#76)
    by kdog on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:30:03 PM EST
    the mere mention of more gun control had gun business booming this weekend.

    No amount of gun control is gonna erase the fact our technoligical advances in ways to kill each other has far exceeded our spiritual advances as a species.  Savages with advanced weaponry.


    Gun (none / 0) (#85)
    by lentinel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:43:10 PM EST
    business is booming...

    And then there's this:

    WASHINGTON -- A day after President Barack Obama made an impassioned speech to the nation about now being the time to address the epidemic of gun violence, the White House, for now, is ducking specifics on what exactly Obama plans to do.

    During his daily briefing Monday, White House press secretary Jay Carney avoided one question after another about the types of legislative proposals the president could support, what kind of timeline he wants to take action within and whether he truly plans to make the issue of gun violence a priority, despite the fact that in four years -- and four shooting massacres later -- the only related bill Obama has signed actually expanded gun laws.

    My prediction; Some hot air, and no action - except something freaky thanks to Lieberman who will find a way to fk things up - say by making us all take some mental test... whether on not we have guns - just some way to number us - put barcodes on our foreheads...


    1992 (5.00 / 1) (#73)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:51:28 PM EST
    I am wearing a stripped umpire shirt here and will not advocate a position, but will try to explain what I have seen as the historical problems with many gun control laws.  

    The biggest problem I have seen with gun laws is that far too often the authors who are looking to restrict the guns have no knowlege of guns and an emotional and visceral hatred.  That clouds their judgement.  Those pro gun people who write the amendments are very technically savvy and can write what seems to be innocuous or benign language into them that leave a torpedo sized loop hole.  

    The 1992 assault weapons ban was a very, very poor piece of legislation regardless of what side of the debate you hold on to.

    In reality, it did almost nothing.  It wasn't just the NRA.  There was protection of "made in the USA" manufacturing jobs supported by unions that helped render it ineffective.

    Everything was grand fathered.   And because most of the restrictive provisions were written based on emotion, they were incredibly simple to circumvent.   Examples:  Pistol Grips were one of the restricted provisions.  Pretty ridiculous....  So manufacturers just modified the grip an kept on trucking.  Bayonet lugs were considered a threat.  Pretty ridiculos...  So the manufacturers took off the lugs and kept on trucking....   etc etc.

    Someone above spoke about definition of terms.  Some were dismissive of him.  But that is critical.  Because the pro gun types clearly out maneuvered the anti guns on the terminology used.  If gun control advocates don't take the emotion out of it and learn the technical aspects they will be thwarted.

    Case in point.  I saw a commentator on TV on one of the Sunday Morning round table shows say that the Bushmaster .223 used by Lanza was capable of firing 7 shots a second as part of the rationale for banning them.  What???  If I  took that rifle and asked any of the SWAT guys I work with to get off 7 shots in a second with that rifle for $1000, my money would be absolutely safe.  

    When hyperbole becomes accepted fact on technical issues, the side introducing the hyperbole and emotion has set itself at a disadvantage and that is what happened in 1992.  They convinced themselves that unstable people were drawn to things like pistol grips and bayonet lugs...

    In this case, a proponent of restrictions would say, "We should ban any rifle that can be fired 7 times in a second.".  The pro gun guys would just smile knowingly and say, "Sure, we will concede that  if we you will meet some of our concessions.".  Compromise that only Neville Chamberlin could be proud of.

    I will issue a word of caution here too.  While most of the people on this site are strongly anti gun, please do not assume that a mandate or even a definite plurality exists for draconian solutions. Don't be so quick to believe instant polls.  While a strong plurality might want something done that includes "sensible gun control" the technical aspects are highly important.   Because total confiscation is not going to fly no matter how much anyone here thinks it should.  

    That is why the technical nature of the definitions is so important.  You have to define what is prohibited.  And you better know the mechanical and technical aspects to do that.  Because the wording that takes away an assault weapon can end up being applicable to a whole host of other weapons.  While that may not be troublesome to some here it will sink the legislation because the hunters and plinkers and rural Americans will not stand for having their "non assault weapons" taken away, especially without compensation.

    One of the best definitions I heard recently (2 months ago) about the NRA (no, I am not a member) was that the NRA was not as powerful as the left believes.  Look at their budget and compare it to AFL/CIO, yet they seem to wield so much more sway.  What the anti gun groups don't understand is the vast nature of American gun ownership.  And they no more want entitlement to their guns taken away then the elderly want their social security cut off, regardless of if they are AARP members or not...

    Finally, I don't think it is helpful to a sober debate to post Brady Policy for Violence studies any more than it would be useful to cite NRA studies.  IMO, they are both just biased talking points.   They are both the exact kind of hyperbole that needs to be avoided to make any real progress.   The hyperbole is an instant roadblock to compromise because the other side says, "I don't accept your premise."

    Don't forget, there is also that pesky 2nd amendment thingy that I would caution anyone that thinks overreaching is a good strategy.  The court's swing vote may move left during this administration, but the 2nd amendment has been up held as recently as the last few years striking down gun control laws that were considered to be too sweeping.  I could be wrong, but I don't expect another decision of Roe v Wade proportions on the 2nd Amendment.  

    The Second Amendment (none / 0) (#90)
    by Beartooth on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:55:26 PM EST
    First of all, the Second Amendment does not say what many want it to say.  It is the only Amendment that is phrased as a conditional right.  The phrasing is awkward in an 18th Century Noah Websterish way:

    A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Parsed into modern English, it says essentially:

    As long as we need a well-regulated militia to preserve the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

    Note that the emphasized clause determines whether the depended clause is active or not.

    Our founding fathers had a real distaste for the idea of a standing army, and so fostered the idea of the soldier-citizen, ready to drop the plow, pull the old musket off the fireplace mantle, and assemble into a "well-regulated" militia.  The Constitution, in Article I, describes what a well-regulated militia is, how these state militias are formed, trained and armed, and what they are to be used for (enforcing the law, defending the country in case of external attack, and putting down insurrections (NOT arming radical insurrectionists).  In Article II, the Constitution gives the President as Commander-in-Chief the ultimate power to take leadership of all state militias (today's equivalent is the state National Guard organizations) when used for national defense.

    Since we DO have a standing army - and one that is more than adequately powerful and well armed to protect the country than the National Guard units, the first clause can reasonably be construed to negate the need for the second.  Ergo, no Constitutional right to keep and bear personal arms.

    Also, the framers were VERY careful in their language, and used "person" when referring specifically to individual rights, and "people" when discussing aggregate rights.  There is nothing in the Second Amendment, even if taken as applying, that says that the well-regulated militias can require that each militia member keep his or her weapons in the militia armory until the militia is called out.

    Lastly, if you ever read an annotated version of the original Constitution, you will see that a goodly portion of its content has been overridden through the amendment process. Check out Cornell's Law Institute version and see how much of the original text is highlighted in green an made into links to amendments that override the original document.

    NOTHING in the Constitution is carved in stone and beyond altering.  Thomas Jefferson explained why they included an amendment process in the first place:

    "Some men look at constitutions with sanctimonious reverence and deem them like the arc of the covenant, too sacred to be touched. They ascribe to the men of the preceding age a wisdom more than human, and suppose what they did to be beyond amendment... But I know also, that laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, and more enlightened as new discoveries are made, new truths disclosed, and manners and opinions changed with the change of circumstances, institutions must advance also and keep pace with the times."

    Just as the Constitution, which originally called for Senators to be appointed by state political leadership, was amended a century ago to permit direct popular election of our Senators, as the right to vote was extended to women and minorities, there is nothing in the Constitution that can't be updated if it should prove archaic or damaging to today's democratic society - including the Second Amendment.  We don't need a Roe v Wade type court decision, we just need the political will to oppose the NRA (three-quarters of whose membership support gun registration and other gun-control measures) and do what we did when denying women the vote became intolerable, or the Prohibition Amendment proved more damaging than beneficial.  We can amend or strike the Second Amendment - if we have the political will to organize the people.


    Interpretation (none / 0) (#105)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:40:40 PM EST
    I completely agree with you on your statement that the second amendment does not say what many want it to say.  But  I submit you may be on the losing end of that argument.  

    To ignore the relevent (and recent) case law in your attempt at redefining the original intent is the equivalent of a "right to life"advocate saying that the constition in 1789 did not say anything about abortion; or for an evangelical Christian to say that "the seperation of church and state" is not what the founders intended...it is now...

    But thank you for not posting another maudlin ballad by an obscure singer to bolster your argument.  

    And many of the statistics in the second link are either false or so parsed and massaged that they resemble a baseball commentator, "Though only a .200 hitter, he bats .379 against left handed agnostics on Tuesdays"

    My agency keeps the stats on gun violence for one of the most populous states in the US.  We reference national statistics and other states BEFORE the NRA or Brady skews them for their own purposes.  Please don't try to convince me with agenda driven numbers so suspect that even a first year statistician student would cringe if he knew the raw data.  

    As I said, hyperbole stops thoughtful debate immediately because the other side says, "I don't accept your premise."

    At the end of the day, assault weapons bans are a Constitional issue.  Failing to recognize and address that is folly.  

    Unless you are an anarchist and believe the Constition should be burned, the original intent AND the case law need to be examined as part of a thoughtful address of the issue.

    Of course Jefferson was right.  Frankly, I find his words contrary to your entire argument when you tried to give your own definition of the original intent.  Feel free to believe it, but at this point in history and as recently as twice in the last decade the US Supreme court has disagreed with your assessment.  

    I definitely think we need to look at several aspects of this tragedy including gun control.  But I believe hyperbole and false or misleading statistics that are easily disputed only serve to bog down the reasonable debate.


    Two comments... (5.00 / 1) (#80)
    by Beartooth on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:15:25 PM EST
    First, as everybody runs around with their hair on fire, trying to figure out why so many murders happen in our country, songwriter Cheryl Wheeler gave absolutely the best explanation of gun violence in her song If It Were Up To Me, written after Columbine.

    The Left Bank: If It Were Up To Me

    Second, I despair of ever being able to deal with violence that, though massively facilitated by easy availability of weapons and concealed carry permits, as long as American society is as pathological and riddled with conspiracy fear and rage, there is no way gun control alone will end this string of daily tragedies. Read more:

    The Left Bank: Guns...

    The way things are going, the conspiracist wackaloons might just incite the rest of the country do do exactly what, in their paranoid delusions, they have been expecting for decades - a massive federal effort to confiscate guns.  They are making it a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Creative, yes, but spam nonetheless... (none / 0) (#81)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:26:02 PM EST
    Response to "Creative, yes..." (none / 0) (#92)
    by Beartooth on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:04:01 PM EST
    I would think that it isn't sufficient just to label something you don't like without giving a reasoned response to explain your 'revealed truth.'

    If what you don't like is the posting of links to another website that covers both points in far greater detail, it is simply a way of avoiding long cross-posts, keeping comments short, and giving people the option of reading in greater depth or simply moving on to the next comment.

    Though, methinks that they will skip over your comment as essentially null content.

    Best regards...


    comment will stay or not.

    Jeralyn's judgement (none / 0) (#102)
    by Beartooth on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:35:28 PM EST
    I do not make a habit of attempting to build SEO or self-promotion on any of the dozen's of blogs I comment on. I trust Jerelyn will understand my desire to keep things brief when I had already written in detail about the subject at another site.  

    Since the beginning of forums and blogging, it has generally been considered proper and acceptable etiquette to include a single external link in a blog comment (as well as one at the bottom as part in your sig - which I DON'T do). You can see it done thousands of times (I celebrate my 30th year with an internet connection in March, so I really have seen it all).

    In this case, instead of making two separate posts, I combined them into one - hence two links.  I would be surprised if Jeralyn finds this to be objectionable, given that it is a one-off and not a pattern, and was done to conserve space and bandwidth.


    It's not spam (none / 0) (#120)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 12:07:26 AM EST
    It's linking to posts the commenter published elsewhere, as far as I can tell. Given the explanation, I won't ban the commenter. But comments should be not just be links to material you've published elsewhere.

    Imagine... (3.50 / 2) (#5)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:34:09 PM EST
    ...if that had been President Mitt Romney standing there.

    Trying to claim that tax cuts would have helped, no doubt.

    Or (4.40 / 5) (#6)
    by rdandrea on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:36:34 PM EST
    Bashing the teachers who gave their lives for their students.

    the election is over, move on (none / 0) (#21)
    by The Addams Family on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:23:18 PM EST
    the link is (none / 0) (#1)
    by leap on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 07:44:58 PM EST
    Call to action (none / 0) (#2)
    by MKS on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:18:10 PM EST
    Obama said we are not doing enough to protect our children.  He said he will use excutive action to do what he can immidiately.

    The Republicans and the NRA have the House, however.

    Very curious what unilateral executive action (5.00 / 3) (#4)
    by Peter G on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:33:09 PM EST
    he thinks is available to him in this area. None comes readily to my mind, I have to admit.

    I think he plans to support (5.00 / 2) (#8)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:38:24 PM EST
    the bill Diane Feinstein is introducing.

    Too bad they can't think of something that will work, like addressing mental health issues.


    I really cannot understand (5.00 / 3) (#12)
    by Politalkix on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:04:55 PM EST
    why you feel that legislation regarding gun and mental health issues have to be mutually exclusive.
    Also, how are you so sure that addressing mental issues only will work? Individual and families may be in denial about mental issues and refuse professional help. I think that people who plot to kill doctors providing planned parenthood services, or ram airplanes into IRS buildings or stock up weapons wrongly fearing an assault from the government or the UN or imposition of Shariat law or economic collapse have mental health issues. However, will these people ever be convinced that they need help to address mental health issues? Isn't it better to just make sure that these people do not have access to assalt weapons?

    Supporting legislation is not anything (5.00 / 1) (#16)
    by Peter G on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:32:27 PM EST
    I understand to be meant by the expression "executive action."  But if MKS was referring to this quote -- "I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies ..." -- then I think he means the "bully pulpit," not really any sort of executive agency or other unilateral action, such as new ATF regulations or a Executive Order.  As I suggested above, I don't think anything of that sort relevant to the present discussion is actually available to him.

    i agree (5.00 / 1) (#18)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:43:22 PM EST
    that's a good way to put it, he's going to take to the bully pulpit

    Is their evidence that addressing (5.00 / 5) (#32)
    by observed on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:13:47 AM EST
    mental health needs without doing anything about access to guns will lead to fewer mass shootings?
    Any  peer-reviewed studies? Any states with mental health programs which are proven effective at preventing mass shootings?
    If you want to discuss solutions which work, why not support the solutions which DOES work?
    Taking away guns really is the one proven solution.
    You may not like it, but please couch your resistance properly, as a political stance, rather than framing it as evidence-based, which it most assuredly is not.

    Diane Feinstein's bill is a good start. (5.00 / 0) (#112)
    by fishcamp on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:28:49 PM EST
    Agreed (5.00 / 0) (#113)
    by CoralGables on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:32:01 PM EST
    Although not perfect, a good start is always better than no start.

    Not retroactive.... (none / 0) (#115)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:54:26 PM EST
    Did I read the Bill correctly to say the bans are not retro active?

    I understand the political necessities of that position, and I have no criticism, but just to be clear, that means if this legislation was passed a year ago it would not have affected the CT shooting because everything used was grandfathered.

    If such is the case, some other measures in other areas (mental health, school safety etc) need to be looked at for a more immediate effect onthe problem we are discussing.

    As written the law will take a generation ( not legal to transfer) to really kick in.


    If I recall correctly he was able to (5.00 / 4) (#31)
    by MO Blue on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:58:42 PM EST
    use his executive power to set up the Cat Food Commission. Seems that he could use the same power to set up a commission to examine ways to deal with the problem of mass shootings. He could put a deadline of 2014 or 2015 for the final report.

    Immediately setting up a commission will show how seriously he is taking this situation because he is taking immediate action while freeing up his time to negotiate his Grand Bargain.


    I didn't hear him (none / 0) (#10)
    by CoralGables on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:45:18 PM EST
    use the term "executive action" although he may have.

    What he did say was, "As a country we're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of politics."


    he said he would use the powers of his (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:49:12 PM EST
    office but didn't say for what. I don't think he's planning any kind of executive action, just on urging Congress to act.

    Perhaps a combination (5.00 / 1) (#13)
    by CoralGables on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:06:26 PM EST
    The above quote I mentioned was actually from Friday.

    These were from the President tonight:

    "We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can't be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this."...

    "In the coming weeks, I'll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine.


    what is the call to action? (none / 0) (#3)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:29:34 PM EST
    If you are referring to Obama's, fine. If you are calling for such a plan, get your own site and do it there.

    Feel free to express your views on gun control in this thread, but do not use this site as more than a site for discussion. And no links to petitions please.


    So we can talk about our views... (none / 0) (#7)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:36:39 PM EST
    ...on gun control, but not our views on the chances of anything being changed in that area, which is a separate issue from our views on it?

    Color me confused.


    no you can discuss your views all you (none / 0) (#9)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 08:44:44 PM EST
    want and your thoughts on what will happen and anything else. Just don't try and use this site for calls to action. If the issue was the death penalty, I wouldn't allow anyone here to link to petitions calling for a law to increase the use of the death penalty. The only thing I asked you not do is link to petitions or groups supporting such legislation. That shouldn't be confusing. You can say you support a change in law and why.

    Perhaps you misunderstood... (5.00 / 2) (#14)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:06:56 PM EST
    ...what MKS meant by his/her headline.

    Or perhaps I did, but the body of the post doesn't seem to have been an expression of support or opposition of any particular gun legislation, just a figuring of the odds.


    my comment said (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jeralyn on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:42:35 PM EST
    i didn't know what he meant by his title

    Odd. I thought his comment made the (5.00 / 1) (#117)
    by Anne on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:18:05 PM EST
    meaning of his title very clear.

    So I misunderstood... (none / 0) (#25)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:39:24 PM EST
    ...your misunderstanding?

    : - )


    Chris Jansing (none / 0) (#19)
    by MKS on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:13:33 PM EST
    of MSNBC said it was a "Call to Action."  I was quoting her description of the speech.

    To my ear, Obama by saying he would do everything he could was implying executive action....


    I defer commenting further (none / 0) (#20)
    by MKS on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:18:04 PM EST
    on this.   Just too great an opportunity for misunderstandings....I do not agree with your views and it is your site, so I will comment on other things, which I do appreciate the ability to do...

    One thing we do need... (none / 0) (#15)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 09:22:04 PM EST
    ...and somebody could make an information only, no opinions included television special out of it, is for everybody to be educated about what kind of firearm is what, so that everybody's on the same page when we discuss who should have access to what.

    Anybody who doesn't care about the differences between an Indy car and a Formula 1 racer shouldn't have the necessity to learn about them forced on them, but the gun issue is one where I don't think we have a choice, because intelligent debate and decision require avoiding "the things that people know that just ain't so".

    Is an assault weapon one that can be a bullet hose if you just hold down the trigger (as I understand it, that's "fully automatic"), or is it just a rifle that looks "military"?

    Are semi-automatic weapons (gotta pull the trigger for each bullet, but it loads the next one by itself) that cannot be converted to fully automatic possible?

    We don't all have to learn enough for a career as a gunsmith, but we have to know what we and the other people are talking about when we talk about it.

    that will explain what's what. I agree with you, there are dozens of posts over the past few days that show that that poster really does not have a clue of what they are talking about.

    "Assault rifle" has a very specific definition, and is, essentially, the standard service rifle carried into battles of any modern army. Usually the user can choose to fire them as fully-automatic or semi-automatic with the flip of a switch.

    "Assault weapon" is a non-technical term that refers to whatever the person using the term wants it to refer to. A term of art.

    The "bullet hose if you just hold down the trigger" you describe is fully-automatic, commonly called "automatic." A machine gun. They are, for the most part, illegal for the average Joe to possess.

    There is, essentially, no way to make a semi-automatic weapon that cannot be converted to a fully-automatic weapon.

    BUT, also realize that there is, essentially, also no way to make a single-shot weapon (must reload one round after each shot) that also cannot be made into a fully-automatic weapon.

    iow, it's all just mechanical bits and pieces. If you want to change the firing mechanism of any gun, you can do so. Some, of course, are much easier to change than others, semi-auto to auto is typically much easier than single-shot to semi-auto or auto, but basically guns are pretty simple mechanical machines, not rocket science.

    Semi-automatic guns have been around since the late 1800's, and are, I would expect, to be the most common gun-type manufactured for many, many decades. They are literally as common as dirt.

    Revolvers have the same effective result as a semi-auto, one shot per trigger pull. They've been around since the early 1800's.

    wikipedia would be a good place to start learning what's what.


    There's also no way ... (5.00 / 4) (#33)
    by Yman on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 07:59:08 AM EST
    BUT, also realize that there is, essentially, also no way to make a single-shot weapon (must reload one round after each shot) that also cannot be made into a fully-automatic weapon.

    ... to make a Ford Focus that "can't be turned into" a 200+ mph race car (in theory), but it's a helluva lot harder than starting with a Corvette Z06.  Sure - in theory it's possible to turn a bolt-action/single shot rifle into a fully automatic rifle.  It's also possible to turn a mound of iron ore into a ship, but it's far above and beyond the capacity (and resources) of all but a tiny few in the population.  Whereas an AR-15 can be easily converted with a small fitting that can be bought for less than the price of a dinner, or made by someone with minimal machining skills.


    iow, it's all just mechanical bits and pieces. If you want to change the firing mechanism of any gun, you can do so. Some, of course, are much easier to change than others, semi-auto to auto is typically much easier than single-shot to semi-auto or auto, but basically guns are pretty simple mechanical machines, not rocket science.

    Only sort of (5.00 / 1) (#39)
    by sj on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:32:45 AM EST
    Ya, I think that's pretty much what I said.
    The difference was in emphasis.  You implied that attempts were an exercise in futility.  Yman noted that the difficulty in the attempt made addressing the issue far from futile.

    Not quite (none / 0) (#78)
    by Yman on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 03:50:59 PM EST
    You stated there was no way to make a semi-automatic gun that was not convertible to automatic.  Then, you took it a step further to argue "BUT, also realize that there is, essentially, also no way to make a single-shot weapon (must reload one round after each shot) that also cannot be made into a fully-automatic weapon."

    My point is that your statement is deceptive, in that it is practically impossible for people who own bolt-action rifles or single-shot weapons to turn them into fully automatic weapons.  Possible in theory, but it's also possible in theory to turn a hunk of metal into a machine gun, - just beyond the ability of 99.99+ % of gun owners or people, for that matter.  It is, OTOH, quite inexpensive and easy for someone to turn an AR-15 into a fully automatic weapon.


    As I said... (none / 0) (#27)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:58:16 PM EST
    ...the problem isn't educating just me, it's making sure everybody is on the same page.

    Very odd response. (none / 0) (#28)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:03:31 PM EST
    Me going to plenty of websites... (5.00 / 2) (#30)
    by unitron on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:47:00 PM EST
    ...doesn't take anyone else there.

    A conversation about what, if anything, needs to be done about guns only works if everyone uses the same words to mean the same things, and if every conversation has to be prefaced by spending 30 minutes working out an agreed upon glossary, those conversations aren't going to happen.


    people who have a fundamental knowledge of the words such that these conversations can be had.

    Only one to clear up: All you need to legally own (none / 0) (#38)
    by Mr Natural on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 10:17:06 AM EST
    an automatic weapon is a government issued tax stamp.  Around $250/year as I recall.  Plus a heap of paperwork, dealers able to transfer the weapon across state lines, photos, fingerprints, background checks, a long wait for BATF approval, and one more thing, $10,000 plus for a pre-1986 automatic weapon like an M16 or AR15 conversion.

    Thanks for the additional detail, (none / 0) (#45)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:18:43 AM EST
    that is my recollection as well.

    Individual states also have their own restrictions. I grew up in NJ and live in CA so I don't know anybody who owns an automatic weapon.

    My goal in my original comment was to relate what can be a somewhat technical subject in an easily understandable manner, I hope I didn't make it too simplistic.


    So here's my question, (none / 0) (#26)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 10:53:34 PM EST
    do we know that this kid not have "good" mental health treatment?

    What nation-wide changes in our health care would have, in retrospect, prevented what happened?

    His family was wealthy, so I assume he certainly had access to mental health care and treatment.

    Obviously if he had been locked up in a facility somewhere he would not have been able to do what he did. Or if he were legislated to be on some drug or another that left him unable to do what he did.

    But what specifically would "good" mental health care have done? 24-7-365 professional observation to identify a potential problem like this?

    The CDC says 1 in 88 of our children are on the autistic spectrum, would "good" mental health care provide that 24-7-365 level of observation to all of our "autistic" children.

    In my experience (5.00 / 3) (#79)
    by smott on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:08:12 PM EST
    ...as I have family members that are bi-polar, the issue may not be access to good care. Of course it may be, no doubt...

    But the classic early-adult-onset (usually male) mood disorders are typical in that the most difficult part is to get the depressed/bi polar/schizoid patient to actually ACCEPT care. To get them to go to therapy, and most especially to take the prescribed medication.

    The disorder itself brings on its own perception of reality, and their reality is that they are OK. They don't need therapy. They don't need meds.

    So even if the very best help is available (and of course, it often is not) the toughest part is getting the patient to accept the help, go to therapy, take their meds and so on.

    I've not read much about Nancy Lanza, but if she was teaching her son to shoot that Bushmaster, and/or not keeping the weapons secure, then it just sends chills down my spine.


    Ya, an immediate family member of mine (none / 0) (#84)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:42:53 PM EST
    has been bi-polar for over 30 years.

    The reports I'm reading from interviews with friends of the family are saying that he had taken up shooting as a hobby, and that his mother very recently related that Adam seemed to be getting worse and that she was afraid of "losing" him.


    I've got a close family member who needs help (none / 0) (#104)
    by Angel on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:38:32 PM EST
    but refuses to get it.  I've offered to pay, to go to sessions with the person, to help find a good doctor - everything I can offer.  But the person will not admit there is a problem.  In their mind they are fine.  I can't do anything until said person acknowledges they have a problem and wants help to make their life better.  Very frustrating.  Difference between my situation and the Lanza situation is the age of the person needing help.  Adam Lanza probably should have received help long, long ago, when he was still under the legal protection of his parents.  

    Guess we'll have to wait (none / 0) (#29)
    by Lora on Sun Dec 16, 2012 at 11:20:32 PM EST
    ...for the evidence.

    Local law enforcement officials have indicated that there's "some very good evidence" that will help explain how and why Adam snapped, but they've declined to get more specific as the investigation continues.

    From the same article (5.00 / 2) (#42)
    by sj on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:05:02 AM EST
    Those who know her say Nancy didn't work, other than her philanthropic involvement with charities.
    How does that get translated to: "she was a kindergarten teacher at that school and that was her classrsoom"?

    And I am trying really hard to not to conjecture,but this:

    She and her sons' father, Peter Lanza, divorced in 2008 according to Connecticut courts records...The two were "definitely" not together when the Nancy and her sons arrived in Newtown some 17 years ago, he said.
    seems significant somehow.

    I just keep thinking that what Adam did took lots and lots and lots of rage.


    Was Nancy Lanza a Doomsday Prepper (none / 0) (#44)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:12:30 AM EST
    and did that have an impact on Adam's meltdown?

    C&L has an explanation of a Doomsday Prepper.


    MO Blue (5.00 / 1) (#66)
    by Peter G on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:29:23 PM EST
    you need to fix that link.  I think you clicked the "email" button instead of "link."

    Thanks for telling me (none / 0) (#69)
    by MO Blue on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 01:58:32 PM EST
    Man that is crazy. Can't for the life of me figure out how that happened.

    Correct link:


    I've only seen a couple episodes (none / 0) (#72)
    by brodie on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 02:44:48 PM EST
    and two minutes of another before I'd had enough.  Mostly blue collar/middle class whites of average (at best) educational levels who go to extraordinary extremes to protect their families from [insert type of doomsday scenario here].  I think I saw only one family that looked of the liberal/DFH persuasion (iirc, they were the one family shown which didn't also stock up heavily on firearms).

    The measures taken were so extensive and extreme in most cases that it did make me wonder where they got the extra $$ for such preparations in some cases, or whether the show's producers offered them monetary reward or inducement to assist them in their extraordinary undertakings.

    Lots of junk/macho/alarmist shows recently on cable outlets like NatGeo, The History Channel and a few others.  DoomPrep is one of the worst and most irresponsible that I've seen.


    Hard to know what (none / 0) (#53)
    by CoralGables on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 11:54:09 AM EST
    she told other people she did for a living which could explain the misinformation, but the truth is she didn't have to do anything. Since her divorce three years ago she had collected about $800,000 in alimony.

    Gun la ws (none / 0) (#88)
    by Jack203 on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 04:52:11 PM EST
    We need improved gun laws.

    Schools can obviously not afford a full time security guard for each school.  That leaves the police.  Police need to do better and make schools a higher priority.  Police should be able to have at least one police officer inside an elementary school within 60 seconds with his gun drawn if need be.

    I worry about copy-cat attacks. Mental illness is a serious illness, just as serious as physiological illness. Out of a country of 300 million plus, millions are mentally ill.  99.999% would never commit a mass murder.  But that leaves hundreds at risk, heavily influenced by the rash of mass murders affecting this country.  The non-stop press, the leader of the free world, the most powerful man in the world brought to tears.

    The lowest of the lows can bring the highest of the highs to tears.  It's alluring to some with deep psychological problems and anger against the world.

    Re: Gun Laws (5.00 / 1) (#99)
    by Beartooth on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 05:22:31 PM EST
    After 37 years as a computer scientist, concerned, in part with how a computer 'thinks' as opposed to the very different way a human mind thinks, I have spent a lot of time reading and studying the state of the art on scientific knowledge about the mind - and, in part, about non-neurotypical mental processes.

    As best the neuro-psychologists and neurologists can tell (it is a very new field as we are still just creating tools to explore it), there are three basic categories of mass murderers.

    The first is the serial killer, who is often a full-blown violence-oriented psychopath (Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy come to mind).  The second is the psychotic, primarily schizophrenic with paranoid delusions.  The third, and possibly the most common is the person suffering from a particular strain of profound depression (endogenous or exogenous).  Some experts have described much depression as anger turned inward.  When the pressure builds up beyond the person's ability to handle it, he or she can strike out - usually at the person or people s/he believes responsible for their internal agony.  That's why so many of these incidents start out with the person shooting a parent, spouse, boss, or working colleagues.  Once unleashed, the anger sometimes spreads to a more generalized anger, and some elect to keep on shooting people, even innocents.  These people typically end up by shooting themselves.  In essence, this is an elaborate suicide combined with the desire to punish the person or even the entire community perceived as responsible.

    Since depression can ofter go undetected for many years and even schizophrenia typically doesn't manifest itself until late teens or twenties, there may be no effective way to identify in advance many of the candidates to become serial or spree killers.   Maybe thousands of teens are depressed for every one who is driven to externalize their rage.  The only group that can be identified in advance is psychopaths/sociopaths, who are born with the condition and typically show symptoms (to one trained to interpret them) and even have abnormal EEG readings that can identify them.

    Mental health improvements are no good against a person who seems mentally healthy when s/he buys a weapon, only to manifest mental problems later, when it is too late to prevent them from purchasing a gun.


    Predictive (none / 0) (#109)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:13:02 PM EST
    Very nice primer on mental illness in the limited space of a blog.  Especially on the late teens and development....However one issue bothers me.

    All of the most recent active shooter tragedies have had people that knew them say... "I'm not suprised."    

    Some of that may be in pursuit of their 15 minutes of fame, but there is enough of it in most of these cases where red or at least yellow flags were appearing.

    But there is no way to really do anything until they commit a criminal act.  That needs to be addressed too.


    School security (5.00 / 3) (#106)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:04:03 PM EST

    I tend to disagree.  LtCol Dave Grossman' (Pulitzer nominated author on the silence of desensitizing to killing) brought up some excellent points at a seminar in San Francisco  a few weeks before this tragedy with respect to school violence.  

    He asks the audience "How many children have died from school fires in the last 50 years?  Answer:None.  How about school violence?".  He walked around the room and showed all the passive fire measures that were in place.   Hissing was that if we would look to preventing violence with the same ingenuity, great inroads could be made.  We found the money for fire measures.

    And on the point of these active shooters and their mental state, I am not a psychologist, but  my wife is an educator and she tells me how powerless schools are to interdict abhorrent behavior.  That includes bullying.  

    All of these recent active shooters were outcasts and most were highly intelligent.  Some of the comments in the press suggest he was ostracized if not outright bullied.  

    The guns were a way to empower themselves.  Just a theory, but nobody stands up on their behalf like they did in my youth.   With no release or help, perhaps  it just builds and builds.  

    And then, even in the 5th most restrictive gun state in the union, they shoot Thier mother in the face 4 times and go out to even the score....  

    His attempt to purchase a gun should have set off a red flag to the authorities but the infra structure does not exist.   If he could do it in CT, he could do it most places in the US.  Because there was no follow up on his attempt to purchase by the authorities, he can just keep trying until he succeeds.


    Clarification (none / 0) (#111)
    by Eddpsair on Mon Dec 17, 2012 at 06:26:47 PM EST


    What I disagreed with was not the needing new gun laws, it was the not able to afford better security.  

    Sorry for any confusion.  :-)