Sunday, December 16, 2012


Robert Stacy McCain is thrilled to find a new narrative meme the right can throw at us to try to distract us from talking about gun control:
Ann Althouse cites research by Clayton Cramer that shows -- unexpectedly! -- there were fewer crimes committed by crazy people when it was easier to send crazy people to the loony bin.
So we have an epidemic of gun violence and that's the new solution being offered by the right? By the small-government, pro-freedom, I-own-firearms-to-prevent-state-tyranny crowd? Those folks are saying that the state -- the state -- should just round up everyone with a mental illness and shove 'em all in loony bins?

We know the righties and the gunners are just waiting for the day when President Hitlerbama rounds them all up and throws them in camps; this seems like an attempt to wish what they expect and fear on some other group of people. ("Do it to Adam Lanza!" Stacy McCain cries, his anguished shouts echoing off the walls of the liberal-fascist Room 101.)

Me, I don't want to do a mass sweep of anyone. I think many of our recent mass murderers would have benefited from a great deal more attention from mental health professionals. Institutionalization might have been appropriate for some of them. Emphasis on "some."

But, um, who's supposed to pay for all this? Especially once we've followed the advice of the likes of Althouse and Stacy McCain, repealed the Affordable Care Act, subjected health care to a megadose of Paul Ryan, and otherwise made government small enough to drown in a bathtub?

The paper Althouse cites is "Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder" by Clayton Cramer. It appears on the Federalist Society Web site and was published in the March 2012 issue of Engage: The Journal of the Federalist Society Practice Groups.

Here's how the Cramer article begins:
For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, one of the most shocking aspects of the last three decades was the rise of mass public shootings: people who went into public places and murdered complete strangers. Such crimes had taken place before, such as the Texas Tower murders by Charles Whitman in 1966, but their rarity meant that they were shocking.

Something changed in the 1980s....
Yeah? And what was that, Clayton?

It wasn't just liberal guilt in response to Geraldo Rivera's stories on the horrors of Willowbrook. It was thirty-plus years of forced government belt-tightening -- starting right about that time, and inspired first and foremost by your very own Saint Reagan.

If you really want to lock up all the mentally ill people, I've got news for you: you can't pay for it all with tax cuts.


aimai said...

I agree with your larger point, Steve. In the case of Lanza, however, there is no getting around the fact that his family could easily have afforded to have him committed and could also easily have afforded to have him treated for his emotional issues (whatever his underlying diagnosis was in terms of cognitive issues) but they either chose not to or were unable to find the right mix. His father abandoned him and the mother presumably because the entire thing was too difficult and he didn't want to spend his life as his son's jailor, and the mother does not seem to have known what to do with her son and to have been unaware of his desire for violent action.

I'd like to see stricter gun control laws all the way around, i'd like to see repeal of the second amendment, but there's no denying that in this case neither society nor the parents were apparently equipped to deal with this kid's level of crazy bitterness and spite. There's no system on earth that would have locked this kid up prophylactically.

Victor said...

Well, the OTHER factor in the increase in mass-murders, IS THE INCREASED AVAILABILIY OF GUNS!!!

When I was a kid growing up in the 60's and 70's in NY City, and then Upstate NY, there were only a handful of people who had guns. And all, and I mean ALL of them, were rifles owned by the fathers, who went hunting.

There were NO handguns. Period. I never saw one. I'd heard about zip-guns, but no one I knew in NY City, or 90 miles north of it, had access to one.

So, yes, in the 70's and 80's we closed a lot of facilities for the mentally ill, due to financial constraints - but since then, we've also seen gun ownership skyrocket.
And the NRA and their willing cowardly accomplices, the politicians, R, and D, are the ones responsible for that. They "built that!"
The own that!

Steve M. said...

In the case of Lanza, however, there is no getting around the fact that his family could easily have afforded to have him committed and could also easily have afforded to have him treated

I'm with Athenae:

The kinds of intensive therapies children need, even with Cadillac insurance, can bankrupt middle class families. Can bankrupt relatively wealthy families. Can, even if there is money to pay for them and doctors to provide them, can quite simply drag a family under with the grinding, every day process of staying level enough with the horizon to buy groceries and go to school.

And that's assuming the doctors can even find the right treatment mix, or are even motivated to keep trying after one recommendation fails to achieve good results.

Pathos said...

Wait, wait...

If the government _actually_ is coming to involuntarily round up a segment of the American citizenry, doesn't that justify that portion of the people (alongside fellow liberty loving patriots) arming themselves for violent resistance against tyranny?

I mean, what happens when the government declares 'conservative thought' a mental illness?

Ten Bears said...

Ironocally, it was just this tyranny - a tyranny of a minority ore tje majority - that the Second Amendment was put into place to prevent.

Tom Hilton said...

I would be totally in favor of this, as long as stockpiling weapons were considered per se evidence of mental illness.