LA Times: One sheriff's deputy shot himself in the leg while pulling out his gun to confront a suspect. Another accidentally fired a bullet in a restroom stall. A third deputy stumbled over a stroller in a closet as he was searching for a suspect, squeezing off a round that went through a wall and lodged in a piece of furniture in the next room. Accidental gunshots by Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies have more than doubled in two years, endangering bystanders and occasionally [read more]
Soon after the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Obama made mental health care a major part of his plan to curb gun violence. And this week, following the two-year anniversary of that crime, Rep. Tim Murphy is calling for federal legislation he believes would help stop mentally ill people from becoming violent. “I remain firmly convinced we can make tremendous legislative strides in preventing mass tragedies involving someone with a serious mental illness,” he writes at The Guardian.
But according to one recent analysis, mental-health screening may not be the best way to prevent mass shootings — and expecting psychiatrists to identify potential shooters may do more harm than good.
In a paper published in the American Journal of Public Health, Jonathan M. Metzl and Kenneth T. MacLeish investigate a number of common beliefs about mental illness and gun violence, including the idea that “psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime before it happens.” They write that “legislation in a number of states now mandates that psychiatrists assess their patients for the potential to commit violent gun crime.” New York, for instance, “requires mental health professionals to report anyone who ‘is likely to engage in conduct that would result in serious harm to self or others’ to the state’s Division of Criminal Justice Services, which then alerts the local authorities to revoke the person’s firearms license and confiscate his or her weapons.”
However, they argue, asking psychiatrists to judge who’s likely to become violent may be the wrong approach. They cite research showing that most gun violence isn’t committed by people who are determined to have mental illness — and that most people with mental illness don’t commit violence. According to one study, “the risk is exponentially greater that individuals diagnosed with serious mental illness will be assaulted by others, rather than the other way around.”
The editorial goes on to pose the salient question as follows.
Dr. MacLeish believes psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners should have a role in the national discussion around guns — just not the role of telling authorities which of their patients will become violent. Rather, “there needs to be a new politics to how psychiatry engages with the gun debate.” As it stands now, he said, that debate isn’t really addressing questions like “why do people feel like they need guns” and “what are the implications of being surrounded by guns in people’s daily lives.”
The question has an easy answer. Number one, to prevent or otherwise answer or ameliorate tyranny and those who would try to enslave us, and second, for self defense (which is just another form of enslavement, just personal and individual). Thus the answer(s) finds its roots in the prevention of enslavement. These are issues we investigate and plumb every day. They are welcome to join the discussion – it isn’t a new one – but the Psychiatrists may be late to the conversation. Better late than never. I welcome the opportunity to persuade others of our position.
But the interesting thing about this editorial is that it continues the theme we’ve noted for a long time (even the NYT is catching on, even if their solution is to employ “mental health professionals” for the purpose of larger gun control efforts), and it is that mental health has nothing whatsoever to do with gun violence or any other kind of violence. As reader menckenlite has noted:
Control freaks love psychiatry, a means of social control with no Due Process protections. It is a system of personal opinion masquerading as science. See, e.g., Boston University Psychology Professor Margaret Hagan’s book, Whores of the Court, to see how arbitrary psychiatric illnesses are. Peter Breggin, Fred Baughman and Thomas Szasz wrote extensively about abuses of psychiatry. Liberals blame guns for violence. Conservatives blame mental illness. Neither have any causal connection to violence.
There isn’t one iota of difference between the role Tim Murphy wants “doctors” to play and the role of doctors in Nazi Germany. It all has to do with control for the benefit of the state. Can Psychiatrists stop gun violence? No, any more than they can stop any other kind of violence. But they also shouldn’t allow themselves to be duped into being willing rubes on behalf of a totalitarian state.