Member since: 2003 before July 6th
Number of posts: 34,046
Number of posts: 34,046
It's mind bogglingly silly to make headlines around majorities of six events.
It's beyond mind-boggling when you go to http://www.shootingtracker.com/Main_Page pick 2015 and then start your analysis of their data.
It turns out that for 2015 the mental health status of a majority of shooters -wasn't even known-. There's some question if even half of the names of shooters are known after months of investigations in to the shootings.
I'm all for stopping gun murders, not just mass-shooting. I'm not opposed to efforts that are likely to be effective. But here is what Obama did. He's ordered SS to hand over names of people who receive disability payments for reasons of mental health, but who have guardians/custodians/power of attorneys to handle their finances.
There are an estimated 75K of such people nation-wide. There is -no- published evidence that this class of people represent an enhanced risk of being a gun murderer compared to the rest of the US population.
It's simply based on the assumption that a person not competent to handle their finances is not competent enough to purchase a new firearm. Now I am not going to argue that isn't at least partially true in a 'that just makes street sense sort of way. But as so often turns out, street sense is usually not evidence based.
But I think it's highly questionable as a effective step in reducing gun murders. Who Obama is targeting isn't the James Holmes's of the world who actually committed the Aurora theater shooting. Holmes wasn't on disability, and he was handling his own finances. Holmes hadn't even been adjudicated to be incompetent or dangerous.
The names of SSDI recipients whose names will be added to the criminal database are going to be people with early onset Alzheimer's, people who have had strokes, suffered brain injuries in accidents and war that have led to a loss of cognitive function, and people with various serious cognitive dysfunction that makes it impossible to be gainfully employed, maybe someone with severe autism... it's a pool of about 75000 people, and no numerical estimate exists that describes the likelihood of their purchasing a gun and committing a mass murder.
That's a significant problem for even attempting a guess at effectiveness of this measure. In looking back over news accounts and follow-ups of the mass-shootings of 2015 there is not one event that has been linked to an SSDI recipient who had surrendered control of finances to a custodian/guardian/or power of attorney. A signal for an annual potential effective reduction in mass-shootings through this approach isn't even detectable.
If nothing more consequential than mentally incompetent people being banned from gun purchases they are probably not very interested in making was all that was at stake we might turn to street smarts again and say no harm, no penalty.
But that's not the case. Discrimination against persons with mental disorders runs very deep in the US. It's very likely that what Obama did was apply street smarts based mostly on prejudicial stereotypes generally supportive to the seemingly unquestionable conclusion that ... mentally ill people shouldn't have guns.
And in our society that's so easy and acceptable, because it taps into prevailing stigma about persons with mental disorders in the US. Here the mentally ill are mischaracterized to their dangerousness and incompetence, broadly stereotyped, and made economically and politically powerless. We don't merely want them to be prevented from buying guns, we don't want them to be our surgeons, nurses, police, airline pilots, bus drivers, teachers of our children, co-workers or neighbors.
What Obama's exec action has done is to further reinforce the stigma, using his position to have the US Government endorse the street smarts that mentally ill are stereotypically dangerous and incompetent. I suspect Obama's actions aren't going to do anything to reduce the 16x greater likelihood of getting shot by a cop if that cop suspects a person is mentally ill and a 4 times greater chance of being tazed if a cop suspects a person of being mentally disordered I suspect that Obama's actions aren't going to do anything to reduce the unemployment rate among persons with diagnosed mental disorders that nationally ran at just over 80 percent in 2012.
What I am pretty sure Obama's exec action has done has been to endorse unwarranted prejudice against the mental ill. I suspect many people who share Obama's street smarts are going to be saying to themselves 'YES!!! We finally get to do something about the crazy monsters among us besides the usual shunning from employment, promotions, housing, and social engagement!!
Posted by HereSince1628 | Sat Jan 9, 2016, 09:51 AM (0 replies)
a cultural appetite for mineral resources. This makes us tremendously disruptive to natural ecosystems
Early on in my ecology training, I got the misguided notion that being generalists was good, because it protects against specific resource shortages. Likewise I had the notion that organisms living in mutualistic relationships with reciprocal benefits was a good thing since all members of the mutualism benefit.
I was dreadfully wrong. As I came to better understand the dynamics of community ecology I realized omnivory and mutualism are actually very DESTABILIZING to communities.
Humans exploit the biota at almost every level and we don't shift from one resource to another. We are the most omnivoric omnivore on the planet. We consume whatever is consumable at all levels and do it simultaneously. We not only exploit for food, but we exploit for shelter, clothing and cultural supports. We've even turned to consumption of minerals for energy and materials subsidies. Our vagility, ability to disperse, has spread our direct impacts globally. Just think about how a tiny nation in the nw pacific, exploits endangered populations of marine mammals in the extreme southern oceans. That consumption takes not only an appetite for something other than rice, that takes technology, mining/smelting, huge fossil fuel subsidies etc.
Through domestication we have developed a wide array of mutualisms which have expanded the 'footprint' of humans and their mutuals. And I am not talking about humans and their dogs and cats. I am talking about humans, livestock, and row-crops. Among the three greatest causes of extinction so far along this great extinction event are habitat alteration/destruction and desertification. Both are mostly a consequence of the impact of agriculture based on domesticated mutualisms. Modern maize basically can't survive without humans and we can't survive without it (although we'd be healthier without corn-syrup).
As a species with capacity to exploit minerals, we also consume geological features for energy and materials. Some for traditional needs like shelter, but also for tools, transportation and storage...we make an amazing array of plastic bottles and soft-metal containers. Our exploitation of minerals greatly disrupts habitat, exposes mineral toxins to erosion and surface contamination, and by providing energy and material subsidies helps us expand our search for further exploitable minerals to every corner of the planet and now we are eyeing off-planet opportunities.
Of course, all this human and agricultural activity impacts nutrient cycles and we are well aware of their local and even regional impacts. But because of the dysfunctional nature of our pro-growth prowess we're also overloading our human modified (mostly simplified and industrialized) global environment at a global level. Our planet's atmosphere and our oceans are changed because of humans collateral production of toxic detritus.
And we've done it -not- because we are an apex species at the top of a food-chain, or the top of a community pyramid shaped food web. Humans have done this because we are vagile mutualistic generalist consumers engaged in geotrophy (consuming minerals).
We are the most dangerous species on the planet because we -are- omnivores with an aptitude and a culture for consuming -everything- and making and leaving a global-sized mess as we do.
Posted by HereSince1628 | Fri Dec 11, 2015, 08:30 AM (1 replies)
When you focus a policy it has to be for a justifiable reason. In the case of focusing policy on mental illness to control gun violence, the question must be do the mentally ill represent a significantly different risk of gun violence from the general population. This is necessary because of constitutional protections for -all- citizens including the equal protection clause
The answer to whether there is such difference for all classifications of gun violence and all classifications of mentally illness compared to the general population is very decidedly -NO-.
When the question gets parsed into different pieces relative to the type of gun violence the answer for a role of mental illness in a specific type of gun violence is decidedly -YES-. Gun suicides are quite definitively linked to depression and anxiety.
But solitary gun suicides are not generally acts of social violence. Social gun violence is gun violence out in society, it includes things like the use of guns in robberies, road rage incidents, gang wars, terror attacks, that include intimidation and shootings in workplaces, schools, retail businesses and public spaces.
Social gun violence would be defined as gun violence that occurs outside of personal relationships, which are matters of domestic violence. Social violence general also excludes violence of persons held in institutions such as prisons, detention camps, and medical and psychiatric hospitals. Gun violence by the mentally ill in institutions is rare and what occurrence there is is outside consideration of "public" policies. Institutionalized persons with mental disorders are prohibited from firearms.
Broadly speaking social gun violence by the mentally ill is statistically uncommon and does not represent significantly increased risks over the general population, which in addition to non-mentally ill members of society also includes a very large number of perpetrators of criminal intimidation with guns, and smaller numbers of people who commit acts of gun violence during acute acts of anger, persons involved in gang violence, persons engaged in acts of terror/political intimidation/rebellion, and persons seeking vengeance, etc.
The public's concern about mentally ill and guns, as demonstrated by very limited concern about the largest category of gun violence--guns used to intimidate during crimes, and by comparison a hyperbolic concern about the acts of violence, is the role of mental illness in intentional mass gun murders in public places against random persons.
Even in this much narrower slice of gun violence in America the role of mental illness is not as clear as one might think, and doesn't clearly support building policies that focus on persons with mental illness.
Mother Jones constructed a database of such mass murders in the US incorporating publicly available information from the 1980s to 2012. Not all of them included guns, mass murders by car and by airplane were included. In that database, about 38% of the murderers could be linked to evidence of clinical mental illness (caveat: only ~20-25% of people seek clinical help for their mental health problems, although persons with more serious mental illness have a somewhat higher rate of help seeking--probably because their daily activities are more impacted by the disorders). Of the events recorded in the database near 60% of the murderers could be associated with 'some' history of symptoms which could be indicative of the presence of mental illness (caveat: symptoms of mental illness are qualitatively within the range of normal emotions, thinking and behavior, what makes them a disorder is the degree and duration of dysfunction brought about by those symptoms. Moreover, about 60 million Americans have some mental disorder each year, so a very large number of people who reach late adolescence and adulthood have experienced some symptoms of mental illness)
So what we can say is slightly more than half of mass murderers between the early 1980s and 2012 have -some- perceived association with mental disorders, although only about 1/3 of the mass murderers have records that would support that. About 66% of intentional mass gun murders in public places don't have a record of evidence that actually established presence of mental illness at all. And that uncertainty means that policies for reducing this specific type of gun violence can't be directed at any rationally narrowed group of mental disorders. Consequently, denial of civil rights to a class of people is very hard to justify in a way that meets court expectations of equal protection.
In recent years, suicide plus mass murder has been on the increase. Because suicide itself is definitively linked to mental disorders, it's very likely that these events are associated with mental illness. But it's not entirely clear -what- mental illness... depression? adjustment disorders? dramatic personality disorders--paranoid schizophrenia? bipolar disorder? borderline personality? What??
The number of these events is thankfully small, but that small size makes statistical significant association hard to obtain for any particular known mental disorder. And there is no reason at all to believe that the psychiatric industry has yet named -every- mental disorder that occurs. For example, Post Traumatic Embitterment, a disorder described in Germany (that includes what we in the US call going-postal) a disorder with good diagnostic clarity, and a disorder for which effective therapy exists, was intentionally left out of the new release of the APA's Diagnostic Manual, mostly it seems because professional reviewers didn't like the use of the terms 'post traumatic' in the name (they fear it is over-applied and would add confusion to PTSD).
How do legislators justify targeting a class of people who can't be shown to be accurately identified. Well they don't need any psychiatric medicine at all to justify policy. They can use public sentiment, which is to say, cultural bias and perhaps even prejudice against the mentally ill (in 2013 a survey was published that found 90% of Americans thought mentally ill shouldn't be institutionalized, but that same survey found 80+% of Americans didn't want a day care center for the mentally ill in their neighborhood, similar percents of Americans didn't want mentally ill persons as neighbors or on their team at work. In 2013, a national survey found that unemployment among the mentally ill was about 80). And public sentiment currently runs very strongly that mentally ill -ARE- the workable part of the problem of mass gun murders in public places.
What caretakers and advocates for persons with mental disorders and persons with mental disorders fear is further criminalization of mental illness and greater institutionalization of discrimination against persons with mental disorders under the rationale that -even the government finds them too dangerous to be treated as full citizens-.
I'm all for ending mass gun murders. If there were clear justification for identifying specific mentally illnesses as a significant part of the problem I'd be ok with targeting persons with those mental illnesses. But as it stands, even among persons with serious mental disorders just less than 7% per year engage in -any- non-institutional violence, which is just shy of 2 percent above the rate of any violent acts in the general population.
And to be clear, all this long reply is just to address the problem of trying to focus policy against persons with mental illness that have a clearly elevated risk so that any policy/law meets it's constitutional requirements.
Posted by HereSince1628 | Tue Oct 6, 2015, 07:24 PM (0 replies)
What you posed is way to ambiguous to seriously evaluate for any specific benefit or harm
Problems with "history":
a) The restrictions are going to be very porous. Mental disorders emerge more commonly among people under 30, often people under 25, but mental disorders can emerge at -ANY- time, including -after- a person has bought a gun. Mental illnesses can also resolve and the numbers suggest that survival to middle age is associated with decline in mental disorders. So status of history may not reflect the status of present risk very well.
b) Most people, somewhere around 75% to 80%, with mental disorders do not seek or receive clinical help, people who don't seek clinical help CANNOT HAVE A HISTORY. About 20% of Americans are estimated to suffer from symptoms of a mental disorder annually...that's 60 million people or 1 in 5, that's a huge number of people to treat as criminals in-waiting. That attitude would have social consequences.
Problems with "mental illness":
a) there are -many- mental disorders, most of them have no association with violence, in society or in private. The net that can be cast with this approach can easily be over-sized and complicate rather than resolve the problem of identifying the small number of persons who indeed are potentially dangerous.
b) not every mental disorder is yet known or accepted as an authentic disorder. The APA rejected inclusion of a number of mental disorders when creating it's new edition of it's diagnostic manual, including rejection of an anxiety disorder characterized by 'embitterment' which includes heightened likelihood of acts of deliberate vengefulness.
c) The likelihood of a person with a diagnosed -severe- mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar, borderline, etc) committing an act of violence in the US is estimated to be slightly over 6%. The likelihood of social violence among the general population is about 5%. Which is to say even for persons with severe mental illness there is not statistically significant elevated risk. Indeed the possibility of random mentally disordered person committing an act of social violence is almost exactly identical to the possibility of any randomly chosen gun owner.
Problems with this approach.
a) This approach has much to do with exploiting existing stigma about mental illness in American culture and the need to create scapegoats (the NRAs 'monsters among us') so that cognitive dissonance (aka discomfort) about our society being violent can be reduced.
b) This approach actually increases stigma and fear about people with mental disorders which results
1) in people avoiding clinical assistance with mental disorders because they fear the harm done by such a label.
--this adds to the problem of untreated persons in society
--it confounds the possible effectiveness of this strategy by increasing the difficulty of finding people with histories of mental disorder
2) in increased discrimination against the mentally ill.
In case you didn't know it...2012 unemployment in the US among persons with mental illness averaged about 80%. Discrimination in employment reflects discrimination in association across society and results in marginalization and isolation of persons with mental disorders. This destroys a basic early warning system for potential problems with mentally disordered by reducing opportunities for interventions in gun violence by friends, coworkers etc. to near zero.
Increased stigma and discrimination simultaneously is quite likely to exacerbate feelings of frustration and unfair persecution that motivate even the mentally well to embittered acts of such as revenge.
Analysis of the effectiveness of the NICS database in preventing purchases from banned persons is that those on the list have one of the lowest rates of violation. Persons with histories of mental illness don't violate NICS. The real violations are among persons with criminal histories.
Suicide remains a dominant cause of gun deaths in the US. But it is not the chief concern or target of gun control which is driven by fear of gun violence committed on innocent others. But it is a serious problem that needs attention.
The mental disorder it is most often associated with depression. Depression is also the most common of diagnosed mental disorders in the US, and it accounts for the majority of diagnosed mental disorders per year...about 70% of cases of depression are diagnosed in women...who have lower rates of both social gun violence and suicide than men.
Because of the high prevalence of depression, over their lifespans well over half of Americans experience it personally. If these persons sought clinical assistance and thereby were placed on NICs, it would create an enormous burden on the reporting system would add to its expense and would provide little benefit other than the psychological relief that comes from having done 'something'.
Criminalizing depression would once again, contribute to increased stigma and people's perception that they need to hide or deny symptoms of mental disorder in order to prevent the social costs of such a diagnosis. The result would be decreased help seeking...the very things we might expect to help reduce the occurrence of suicide and the very thing needed to make denial of gun purchases to a person with mental disorder possible.
It is quite clear that some persons with mental disorders can be a danger to themselves or others. Protecting them from themselves, and protecting the public from them is an obvious and long-standing concern. Social systems already exist to respond to such people. But stigma and discrimination often drive these cases underground, leaving more general passive policies, such as waiting periods for taking possession of guns, one of the few possible responses. As we have seen in handfuls of recent mass murder cases, long-term planning that exceeds waiting periods is often involved as is coming into possession of a firearm that was purchased by someone else.
Our perceptions of the significance and fear of gun violence vary with our context. This week end just in the city of Chicago, over 6 people were killed in acts of social violence and 27 wounded by guns. In my rural county in SE WI there were no gun murders and no people wounded.
There are people with mental disorders in both places and in about the same proportion. Murders by guns have occurred in my rural county, and just as elsewhere gun suicides are many times more common.
Those patterns have actually been confirmed by research across America. The problem of social gun violence has causes that don't really center on mental illness, even while recent high profile cases of suicide plus mass murder do.
Impulsive acts of violence are part of human nature. Defense of territory and property is a part of innate human social behavior as well as learned behaviors even within the culture of the criminally inclined. Availability of guns provides options for tool use that has increased deadliness for those behaviors.
Identification of strategies that reduce social/criminal gun violence shouldn't be based merely on the size of the public's fear...which can be a massive illusion based on frequency or salaciousness in the media.
Strategies should be decided based on the greatest potential for reductions in social gun violence returned per unit community investment. That won't always mean that the biggest root problems will be addressed, but rather control of the biggest root causes that can be effectively implemented. Those strategies have to reach deep and engage human social behavior.
Focusing effort and expenditures for control of gun violence on broad swathes of the subpopulation of persons with mental disorders risks poor and ineffective use of resources. It creates attitudes that essentially criminalize illness. It often seems less aimed at reducing real social gun violence than it is aimed at calming a society that misunderstands mental disorder and has an irrational fear of it
Posted by HereSince1628 | Tue Sep 8, 2015, 07:56 AM (3 replies)
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