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(36,063 posts)
69. For policy it's not a question of if mentally ill are or aren't violent
Tue Oct 6, 2015, 07:24 PM
Oct 2015

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.

They don't. They are a fig leaf. Warren Stupidity Oct 2015 #1
"controlling the use and possession of other guns" Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #3
It's worked effectively elsewhere. Warren Stupidity Oct 2015 #5
Except when it hasn't. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #6
Which isn't once or twice every damm day... ananda Oct 2015 #9
On the contrary, every time there is a spree killer numerous laws have failed. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #10
This is a non sequitur. ananda Oct 2015 #87
"Good gun-control laws do have an effect on the frequency of gun violence." Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #88
A couple points.... Adrahil Oct 2015 #4
I'm all for regulating guns based on the amount of hot lead that comes out of the barrel per second. backscatter712 Oct 2015 #68
.. pipoman Oct 2015 #84
There is an AR-15 type gun manufactured in which the Snobblevitch Oct 2015 #97
Kids who accidentally kill other kids with guns are not mentally ill...their Parents are. Not every kelliekat44 Oct 2015 #45
They don't. This is obvious. Look around. nt bemildred Oct 2015 #2
Stopping disturbed persons isn't their main intent, anyway. Lizzie Poppet Oct 2015 #7
As someone with a "mental illness" I take powerful meds for, I find your post highly offensive. hunter Oct 2015 #8
First, if you choose to be offended that is your choice. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #12
It distracts from the actual issue -- gun fetishism in the U.S.A.. hunter Oct 2015 #20
Controllers are the fetishists. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #21
Well... Chan790 Oct 2015 #23
Because self-defense is a right and the misuse and abuse by others does not abrogate those rights. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #26
Who is trying to ban self defense? n/t kcr Oct 2015 #31
Who is trying to own a nuclear bomb? Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #37
Aww. And you said, "go for it" kcr Oct 2015 #38
I do not concede. Plenty of Controllers demand people be disarmed up to and including Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #39
You do not understand what straw man means kcr Oct 2015 #40
No one claims private nuclear bombs are a practical means of self-defense. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #41
Except I wasn't claiming anyone was making that argument kcr Oct 2015 #42
Okay. So let's play with your stupid analogy, which is stupid. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #43
It's not stupid kcr Oct 2015 #44
"Your contention that no one should abrogate your decision" Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #47
I'm sorry, but it does. kcr Oct 2015 #48
I'm sorry but you can't just make stuff up. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #50
I forget. What is the well-regulated militia that all you gun folks belong to? HERVEPA Oct 2015 #53
Title 10 USC Section 311. Which Supreme Court do you belong to? Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #54
About Title 10 (I'll take what was obviuosly meant in The Constitution) HERVEPA Oct 2015 #60
I see you're unfamiliar with Section 311 Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #61
I read it, Ms. Pomposity. I'll still take the obvious meaning of the Constitution (nt) HERVEPA Oct 2015 #63
The obvious meaning of the constitution that since the militia supplies its own arms Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #64
Pick and choose whatever BS you'd like. I'm done with your crap. HERVEPA Oct 2015 #66
Interesting citation. Let's look at it without your dubious lifting it out of context -- Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #67
So both the President and the Demcratic party platform got it wrong hack89 Oct 2015 #73
yup HERVEPA Oct 2015 #75
I think I will go with the guy who taught constitutional law. Nt hack89 Oct 2015 #76
Yeh, you go with the dead kids. HERVEPA Oct 2015 #78
So what you're saying is, by your own rules, if you don't support reinstating Prohibition Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #80
Apples and unicorns HERVEPA Oct 2015 #82
No. No, it's not. You can try to pretend the analogy is not apt but there is no argument you Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #83
Enjoy your gun stuff for the next week. I'm off dancing in a gun-free zone with non-gunners. HERVEPA Oct 2015 #94
jury results restorefreedom Oct 2015 #92
Thanks for posting. HERVEPA Oct 2015 #93
no problem. restorefreedom Oct 2015 #95
"Controllers are the fetishists." Gidney N Cloyd Oct 2015 #24
The Controllers hit bottom years ago when they started cheering violence against gun owners Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #27
My mistake. _Now_ it's hit bottom. Gidney N Cloyd Oct 2015 #28
Is it the fact some Controllers have violent ideations or my temerity in pointing out the fact? Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #36
I like to pretend everyone is ignoring the criminals too LanternWaste Oct 2015 #58
Yeah? beevul Oct 2015 #70
Congratulations, you're a sucker for the old NRA right-wing manipulation. backscatter712 Oct 2015 #11
FACT: I never said most mentally ill people are violent Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #13
Mental health needs to get more attention but inwiththenew Oct 2015 #14
I don't think we need "all mental health records" Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #15
According to real research: backscatter712 Oct 2015 #16
"you'd cut the overall violence rate by about 4%." Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #17
Do what Australia did. n/t backscatter712 Oct 2015 #18
Yeah, about that often cited but seldom scrutinzed talking point -- Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #19
Oh, it's not just the "spree killers." hunter Oct 2015 #22
How does misuse and abuse by one person abrogate the rights of another? Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #25
I have the right to defend myself against pests in my house. kcr Oct 2015 #32
Go for it. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #33
That's twisting the research, IMHO Nevernose Oct 2015 #71
It indeed is a "top-down thing," branford Oct 2015 #74
Look we can't keep guns out of hands that should upaloopa Oct 2015 #29
You can no more keep guns from everyone than you can keep drugs from everyone. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #35
the Columbine kids got their guns because no backround checks- end straw purchases! bettyellen Oct 2015 #30
There are laws against straw purchases and I support those laws. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #34
but they happen more often when they can get away with no paperwork- she would not have done it bettyellen Oct 2015 #49
So, returning to the OP. How would UBCs matter unless the mentally ill were ID'ed and Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #51
We can walk and chew gum at the same time. We need more mental health services- and bettyellen Oct 2015 #52
Stricter how? Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #55
You can look a million places for good proposals on gun regulations- why pretend you need me? bettyellen Oct 2015 #56
I've seen lots of proposals undet the guise of "common sense" that would have no bearing while Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #59
And the girlfriend who did the buying and straw purchases Lee-Lee Oct 2015 #46
That is such an important point mainstreetonce Oct 2015 #62
Many also say most mentally healthy people are not violent. LanternWaste Oct 2015 #57
For policy it's not a question of if mentally ill are or aren't violent HereSince1628 Oct 2015 #69
Private sales DustyJoe Oct 2015 #65
The majority of firearm deaths (60%) are suicides madville Oct 2015 #72
Japan, which recognizes no RKBA, has a suicide rate that dwarfs our own. People need help Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #77
The "mentally ill" are not more violent than the rest of the population Recursion Oct 2015 #79
The violent ones are. Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #81
If only any other country in the world had to deal with mental illness ... LannyDeVaney Oct 2015 #85
Mass killings by the dangerously mentally ill don't just happen in America, i.e. Andreas Lubitz Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #86
This message was self-deleted by its author postatomic Oct 2015 #89
No u! Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #90
This message was self-deleted by its author postatomic Oct 2015 #96
Yet everything you define as objectionable for the mentally ill Nuclear Unicorn Oct 2015 #98
This message was self-deleted by its author postatomic Oct 2015 #99
Never met a republican yet that wasn't mentally ill. B Calm Oct 2015 #91
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