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Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:18 PM

"We must keep guns away from the mentally ill, and we must destigmatize mental illness

Last edited Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:56 PM - Edit history (1)

so that the mentally ill will get treatment."

Maybe its just me, but that's the message I've heard over and over again and again all week, usually from well-meaning progressive types, and often in the same sentence or within a sentence or two of each other. Ummmmm...... is it just me that finds this a bit contradictory -- destigmatize mental illness but no guns for you if you've ever seen a counselor or (gasp) took an anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medication or something for ADHD etc?

Edited to put quotes around the title line.

12 replies, 963 views

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Response to progree (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:35 PM

1. Who doesn't have a mental illness of some sort?

Hell, if I ever meet someone who's perfectly sane and balanced, it will be hard not to kick their ass just to make their lives more interesting. Mental illness is all in how one defines it: there are anxious people, depressed people, violent people, people who hear voices (those are cool), and everything else.

Here's the deal: we evolved with different brains, different quirks because at some point, each of those helped us, or somebody, survive. Personally I've made it part of my life to be just a little crazy, to think of things that nobody else will think of - to think outside the box. My curse. My gift. Everyone has them (unless they're really boring).

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Response to progree (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:42 PM

2. Controlling the guns and providing help for the mentally ill are two parts of the solution.

De-stigmatizing is a different thing. I think what they mean is that one can seek treatment for depression and not carry it as a stigma for their entire lives. Some mental illnesses, however, can not be cured, only treated. But most of those do not make a person dangerous.

Those solutions don't address the gun culture that carries as a matter of faith that the world is a deadly and dangerous place and only by being armed at all times can one be safe. The very fact that the vast majority of Americans never need a gun for their safety in no way discourages the belief . Is believing that way a from of mental illness? I don't know, but I do think that gun culture should be stigmatized and discouraged as a form of delusion. But other than requiring all gun owners to carry insurance an a license for every gun they own, I can't think of a way to stop people from being frightened and deluded.

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Response to Agnosticsherbet (Reply #2)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:06 AM

5. So is the world

"a deadly and dangerous place" or not? If not, why do you care if people carry concealed? If so, maybe they aren't that delusional after all. Furthermore, who's world are we talking about? Yours or someone who has to be in neighborhoods with high crime rates?

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Response to pipoman (Reply #5)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:52 AM

11. I didn't address concealed weapons in this except...

to state my opinion that the gun culture that has grown up in this country has deluded themselves into believing the world is this deadly place. There are some dangerous places, but since the vast majority of more than 300 million Americans never need to use a gun it appears that the vast majority of places are relatively safe.

Strict gun control laws would not prohibit those who feel they must carry a gun in their pocket. They should, in my opinion, be required to be trained and to insure every weapon they own in the same way that people must buy insurance on the cars they drive. Considering that owning a weapon is dangerous, that insurance should cost enough to deter them from risky behavior that endangers other people.

And for most of my life, I and my family have lived in heavy crime areas, plagued by gangs. None of us have ever carried a weapon, been threatened, and have not been robbed, except for one. My daughter's ex boyfriend used his key to get into her house and steal from her after they broke up. I hope she learned the importance of changing her locks when the dick-head she dates decides to move on to someone else.

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Response to progree (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:45 PM

3. I believe mental illness

is a factor in many of these horrific crimes. When Raygun defunded mental health treatment resulting in the closure of state run mental hospitals all over the country, there was one huge unexpected consequence. Involuntary commitment procedures all but halted. Previously if loved ones or authorities of various types believed a person to be a risk to self or others and the court agreed the person would go to mental health facilities until the threat was over. Now, unless a person has really good health insurance or are independently able to pay, there is no inpatient funding. Now, if I suspect my son to be a danger to someone, there is no help until he commits a crime and is in state custody, even if I beg the police they will do nothing. Once the crime is committed and the person is in state custody people with mental illness are often untreated and put in the prison industrial complex for profit instead...(that was part of Rayguns plan).

Ultimately, IMO, we need to be able to treat mental health issues and addiction services for anyone who needs them..including inpatient. Also ability by loved ones and authorities to petition for involuntary commitment when needed.

Oh, and then the involuntarily committed should be entered into the NICS system, and only the involuntarily committed..

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Response to progree (Original post)

Fri Dec 21, 2012, 11:45 PM

4. just because someone is mentally ill does not mean they cannot use a gun

there are some people such as those who have certain untreated mental illnesses that shouldn't be allowed to have a gun but to say that all mentally ill people shouldn't have one is just bigotry on your part

I have a diagnosed mental illness for which I'm being treated and I don't feel like I should be denied my 2nd amendment rights because of it

an illness is just that-an illness; if it's treated properly, then a person can certainly function

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Response to dlwickham (Reply #4)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:45 AM

7. "to say that all mentally ill people shouldn't have one is just bigotry on your part"

I edited my OP to put quotes around the title line. The title line in my OP -- "We must keep guns away from the mentally ill, and we must destigmatize mental illness so that the mentally ill will get treatment" -- isn't my opinion, I was just pointing out the contradictory nature of people saying we must destigmatize mental illness but keep guns away from the mentally ill.. It wasn't my intent to represent the "we must keep guns away from the mentally ill" as my opinion, sorry about that.

I entirely agree with your post other than the bigotry part (though given my original title line, that was understandable).

1. Obviously, some people are mentally ill to the point of being deranged and a danger to themselves and others and should/must be kept away from guns.

2. I think obviously anyone who conducts a mass shooting of little children is mentally ill, whether or not they fit into some DSM-IV category or not. (I could say that anyone who conducts a mass killing of teenagers and adults is mentally ill too, but then we get into the issue of the military and time of war and bombing cities and all that ... I'm a veteran and would not agree that bombing a city is never justified but don't want to go down this road in this thread .... )

3. Mental health/illness is on a continuum, and it is not some simple "yes you are mentally ill" or "no you are not mentally ill" thing for most people.

4. I don't think everyone (or even most) who has seen a counselor or taken an anti-depressant should be banned from owning a firearm. I fit the above description (except that I'm not banned from owning a firearm), and I can assure everyone, that like a normal person in other respects, I have only revulsion at the idea of going on a mass shooting rampage.

5. I don't think I'm the only person who has taken medication and/or seen a counselor that feels stigmatized by all the talk about keeping guns away from the mentally ill, and laughs uncomfortably when a person who rants and raves about keeping guns away from the mentally ill says in the next breath that we need to de-stigmatize mental illness. If someone doesn't see this as contradictory, I feel sorry for them.

6. I'm concerned where we draw the line and what the criteria will be, in deciding which "mentally ill" or "severely" "mentally ill" people are denied access to firearms and those who aren't. I put "mentally ill" in quotes because it is such an imprecise term. Again see 1. where some people are obviously a danger to themselves or others and should be kept away from guns. But not everyone who has ever been depressed or anxious or a bit hyper.

7. (Sigh) when I talk about a danger to oneself ... I'm a supporter of the right to choose death with dignity, e.g. a Compassion And Choices / Final Exit supporter. Another illustration of how hard is it to determine what is mentally ill -- is someone that takes their own life who is suffering in agony and whose prognosis is a few weeks or months to live mentally ill? Hardly in my opinion. Is someone who has a mild headache for a couple of hours twice a month who commits suicide mentally ill? Most would agree (assuming no other reason but to escape a little bit of pain). What about some in-between cases?

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Response to progree (Original post)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:34 AM

6. No, there is no contraction here. Here's the same idea applied to a different area:

De-stigmatize being drunk, but take the keys away when you are.

Why destigmatize it? So people won't have to hide the fact that they are drunk from friends, by saying "no, I'm fine...me? drunk? NEVER. Only freaks and criminals get drunk. Why would I need a driver?" And then hop in the car to drive home drunk. Its way better for people to acknowledge that they get drunk, that they are drunk, to scream it out loud so somebody calls them a cab.

Its also wise not over regulate being drunk for the same reason: Laws like "anybody who has ever been drunk can never drive again" will force people to hide drunkeness, and that creates the same situation. You want people to admit loud and proud when they are unsafe to drive, without lifelong ramifications, so that when somebody says they're really sober there's a higher chance that they are: because what is there to lose by admitting when you're drunk? Its just a matter of getting a ride home from somebody else, and getting your keys back when you're sober tomorrow.

So that's the idea there: People need to be able to get some support when needed, without the threat of stigma so they actually seek it. And the help needs to be help. I saw a thing on CNN today by experts who had studied many shootings: They say they often talked about it beforehand, but people didn't report it, because they didn't want to "ruin their lives" if they were just joking. (fear of commitment) But trying to get somebody supports and protection don't ruin people's lives, its something a caring person does for a friend. Like sometimes calling the cab for them: even if they didn't need it, its nice, it shows they care. It means nothing in itself about the person the cab was called for in the long term.

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Response to napoleon_in_rags (Reply #6)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:00 AM

8. Whew. Maybe in an ideal world, but that's not one we live in.

"So that's the idea there: People need to be able to get some support when needed, without the threat of stigma so they actually seek it."

And that's also an unattainable ideal. And anyone with a mental health record or contemplating getting mental health treatment, and who owns or wants to own a firearm some day, will reasonably be concerned (in the real world) about whether they might be diagnosed as not fit to own a firearm. Like anyone who has, for example, ever been depressed and contemplated suicide, even though that may have been decades ago.

The dominant theme of the discussions of the past week has been keeping guns from the "mentally ill". Anyone who has been diagnosed with some psychological condition would be impossibly obtuse not to feel a little bit stigmatized this past week, and all the bubbly-boo talk about not stigmatizing mental illness as, just wonderful-sounding talk.

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Response to progree (Reply #8)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 01:55 AM

9. What I'm talking about is not so far fetched at all.

Let me first put on the table the stupid thing that could happen: Shrinks fearing legal liability. People come through this thing, seeking evaluation for protection and supports, and shrinks fear liability if anything happens, so they mark everybody as insane, and the whole program turns into Hotel California, where once you check in you never leave. Word gets out and people fear it like the plague, an almost totalitarian system of marginalization and suppression, word spreads like wildfire on the Internet.

I myself am a mental health worker, who has had acute mental health issues with anxiety, and chronic ones with ADHD. I believe in the system I'm part of. I have no problem sitting down with a good shrink and talking about responsible gun ownership issues, and making plans to be safe if that's how I want to go. I have no fear of sanity checks, and would appreciate being kept from hurting myself or others if I was ever at a point where I was really far out.

The key is leaving this to smart people. If we leave this to smart people, I'm pretty sure what we'll end up with isn't talk of commitment or taking rights away from people with mental health issues, but rather a dialogue on helping and protecting vulnerable individuals, including people who are having temporary mental health setbacks.

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Response to napoleon_in_rags (Reply #9)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 02:17 AM

10. This hasn't been a good week as far as de-stigmatizing mental illness

I think what's going to happen is somewhere in between the scenarios of your first (dystopia) and third (eutopia) paragraphs. I am particularly troubled by the third paragraph's qualifier, "If we leave this to smart people". I'm afraid politics will start getting into it more and more, and generally speaking I see politics as being full of very smart people, and yet our politics is one big mess. Similarly our criminal justice system.

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Response to progree (Reply #10)

Sat Dec 22, 2012, 12:37 PM

12. Yeah, maybe I should have said that third paragraph differently...

I mean if we leave it to smart people from the field... I'm talking about people who really know what their doing with mental health, operating outside the context of a political show. Good shrinks.

The thing to remember is there is a basic, 2+2=4 dimension to this stuff. You can spot serious mental illness very clearly from the Writings of Cho (VA tech), and Loughner. (Gifford) I mean seriously, google the stuff, its not rocket science to spot it. I didn't spot it in the writings of Klebold, (Columbine) though his writing dealt with themes of shooting. So there would be people you'd miss. There'd be lots of harmless people you'd identify, but if the idea is offering them support, than that's a good thing.

Our politics is often a mess, but this is really a very basic thing: if somebody suspects somebody else is having problems, is there some common sense thing they can do that will actually help that person? And not ruin their life if they're harmless?

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