A new study — the MacArthur Violence Risk Assessment Study — found that those living with classic mental illness — schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression — alone are not likely to use guns when they commit acts of violence:
“For the small group of people with mental illness who are at risk of committing gun violence, improved collaborations with the criminal justice system are clearly indicated,” the researchers stated. “However, directly targeting mental illness as the major driver of gun violence is misguided. … Prior violence, substance use, and early trauma are more likely to contribute to subsequent violence than is mental illness per se. In this regard, the politically inspired haste to focus gun control efforts on people being treated for a mental illness, rather than on people with demonstrated indicators of violence risk, such as restraining orders related to domestic violence, seems particularly misdirected.”
This contradicts the latest psychophobic reign of error that comes upon the shooting in Charleston, South Carolina. It isn’t the mentally ill who shoot people, but those who have no psychiatric diagnosis. So what are we going to do about them?
If we are to follow the advice given by those who support tightening up control of the mentally ill, then we are obliged to make the following changes:
- The sane need to be heavily medicated to prevent them from developing violent thoughts and being able to carry out violent actions.
- The sane need personal caretakers who will monitor their compliance with treatment and control their finances — especially so they will not buy guns.
- The most recalcitrant among the sane should be assigned to special facilities where they can be watched and forced to comply with treatment.
- The medical records of the sane should be open to inspection by any concerned relative.
- Any suggestions of violence by the sane should be reported and the individual involved should be taken to a locked quarantine facility.
- Sane people who carry anything that might be used as a weapon should be shot on sight.
- The sane should not be allowed to buy guns of any kind if they have a criminal record or stockpile ammunition and weapons or own assault rifles.
OK, I should say that I only believe in one of these — the last one and I endorse the same rule for the mentally ill.
Of course, you can do what many people do and say “Well, you have to be crazy to do something like that”. Perhaps so, but not likely schizophrenic or bipolar or depressed or autistic — more likely sociopaths who missed out their careers in the board room, some borderlines, and malignant narcissists — for whom there is no medication or treatment, forced or otherwise, to stabilize them.
In other words, even if I grant you that they are all mentally ill — beyond the most serious and classic disorders — the programs proposed are going after the wrong people entirely. The classically mentally ill are 11 times more likely than you to be the victims of a crime and less likely to commit acts of violence. So, going by that, who is the greater danger?
Let’s look at it a different way (I’ll be generous): How many victims have mass shooters in the USA (leaving aside bank robbers and the like) claimed in the last five years? And how many people have been shot by police this year or by the sane this year — so far? When you realize how puny the number of mass shooter victims are compared to the number shot by cops, you begin to see how out of whack the call for going after the mentally ill is.
The sane need to be accountable for their behavior and not use the mentally ill to avoid looking at certain disturbing problems of our time such as racism and gun violence. They need to be courageous in their self examination.
It is time to get the NRA out of medicine. They’re not searching for a cure, but for scapegoats.