Dec 18, 2012

The most wrong thing I have ever read

I was going to write about something else today but trivial things seem to have been dwarfed by recent events.

I have an almost-6 year old. I cannot fathom how wrong it is for someone to shoot a six year old. The depth of the wrongness is a bottomless black pit. The Newtown shootings is the most wrong thing I have ever read.

Those who want to focus on mental illness instead of gun control are dead wrong. For reasons undisclosed, I've seen mental illness up close.

In an article in the New York Times, a gun lobbyist says:
"I’m skeptical about the efficacy of gun regulations imposed across the board — almost exclusively on persons who are not part of the problem,” he said. “To reduce the risk of multivictim violence, we would be better advised to focus on early detection and treatment of mental illness. An early detection regime might indeed be the basis for selective gun access restrictions that even the N.R.A. would support.”       

Firstly, the guns used were not even owned by the mentally ill in this case, but by his mother.

Secondly, families of those with mentally ill persons have raged for decades against this, but almost universally, you can't force a mentally ill person to seek treatment against his will unless he is a danger to himself or others.

1) The irony is that the mentally ill will not acknowledge they are ill!
2) Because certain parts of their brain still function well, they are able to hide what appears to be unusual to others (their delusions), ie protecting their delusion while maintaining full conviction in them. A mentally ill person wholeheartedly believes in his delusion, however crazy it may sound to you. If I asked you how much you believe the sun rises from the east, a mentally ill person believes in his delusion much, much more, without a shadow of a doubt. Reality changes to accomodate a delusion.

While detecting and forced treatment is possible if they change laws, (and well they should!), Mr gun lobbyist has not addressed another two very important issues :

1) Identifying which of the ill could be potentially violent. This is a very, very small percentage. Of course, you can ask psychologists to assess but needless to say, this is not a science. Those who appear outwardly violent may be less dangerous than those who aren't. The profile of the killers in these mass shootings were often quiet individuals.
2) Putting restraints on those who are identified to be potentially violent means restricting their freedom.  A case of guilty until proven innocent?

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