Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Guns, Insanity and Tragedy

A must-read article from David Kopel of The Wall Street Journal. The following is an excerpt:
A second explanation is the deinstitutionalization of the violently mentally ill. A 2000 New York Times study of 100 rampage murderers found that 47 were mentally ill. In the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry Law (2008), Jason C. Matejkowski and his co-authors reported that 16% of state prisoners who had perpetrated murders were mentally ill.

In the mid-1960s, many of the killings would have been prevented because the severely mentally ill would have been confined and cared for in a state institution. But today, while government at most every level has bloated over the past half-century, mental-health treatment has been decimated. According to a study released in July by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the number of state hospital beds in America per capita has plummeted to 1850 levels, or 14.1 beds per 100,000 people.

Moreover, a 2011 paper by Steven P. Segal at the University of California, Berkeley, "Civil Commitment Law, Mental Health Services, and U.S. Homicide Rates," found that a third of the state-to-state variation in homicide rates was attributable to the strength or weakness of involuntary civil-commitment laws.

Finally, it must be acknowledged that many of these attacks today unfortunately take place in pretend "gun-free zones," such as schools, movie theaters and shopping malls. According to Ron Borsch's study for the Force Science Research Center at Minnesota State University-Mankato, active shooters are different from the gangsters and other street toughs whom a police officer might engage in a gunfight. They are predominantly weaklings and cowards who crumble easily as soon as an armed person shows up.

The problem is that by the time the police arrive, lots of people are already dead. So when armed citizens are on the scene, many lives are saved. The media rarely mention the mass murders that were thwarted by armed citizens at the Shoney's Restaurant in Anniston, Ala. (1991), the high school in Pearl, Miss. (1997), the middle-school dance in Edinboro, Penn. (1998), and the New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colo. (2007), among others. (Read entire article.)
Here is a article by Monsignor Charles Pope about the mental illness and the law. To quote:
Somewhere, in the late 1970s, as I recall, the ACLU, and other interest groups, sued the federal government, claiming that many were being unjustly detained in mental hospitals. Having lost a series of suits, the government largely emptied the mental hospitals, resulting in a great exodus of the seriously mentally ill into our streets.

As most of you know, the “homelessness” problem, in our large cities, was deeply rooted in mental illness. Who of us have encountered homeless persons have seen the depths of their pain and understand that they struggle with mental illness, and also addiction. I know the mental hospitals prior to 1975 were not wonderful, or well-run, but I have grave concerns that we overreacted and severed many people from the necessary, and protected environment that they most needed.

My sister, was among those who were ushered out of mental hospitals, and placed into group homes settings and other less protected environments. Ultimately, this led to the death of my sister, and of great pain for many others.

In the years following her dismissal from the mental hospital system, my sister bounced back and forth through many different group homes. She often ran off, and in her difficult moments and became involved in many incidents that harmed her and others. (Read entire article.)

1 comment:

LC Douglass said...

A friend of mine who is a police officer tells me that many of the people the cops are constantly dealing with are chronically mentally ill and should be in hospitals. He says the police jails are standing in as short term institutions where these people spend several nights of every month on an unending loop.