The Firing Line Forums

Go Back   The Firing Line Forums > The Conference Center > Law and Civil Rights

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old June 14, 2009, 02:20 AM   #1
Micahweeks
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2009
Location: North Mississippi
Posts: 849
Those who are unfit?

A post about the Oklahoma pharmacy shooting brought up a really good point.

Some people are mentally unstable and have never committed a felony. However, many people feel that they should not be allowed to carry or have access to a firearm.

How do you create a policy limiting access to firearms for those people who are mentally unstable without infringing on stable, law-abiding citizens 2nd Amendment rights?

(Disclaimer: I am not claiming Mr. Ersland to be mentally unstable. At least not here. If you want to discuss him specifically the thread is in another section and very easy to see since it was up to 27 pages the last time I checked. This is a blanket question applying to anyone you believe to be mentally unfit.)
Micahweeks is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 02:37 AM   #2
hogdogs
Staff In Memoriam
 
Join Date: October 31, 2007
Location: Western Florida panhandle
Posts: 11,069
The policy already exists... Getting found mentally unstable occurs with only some of the folks who really are unstable. Even fewer have their name in a database to be an alert when background check is completed.
I know one guy who is pretty far "out there" and is also an alcoholic drug abuser who has his CCP and buys guns anytime he wants even though he is on SSI for mental issues! Even got busted drunk with a CW drunk leaving the bar, 86ed, shuts off the power main at the meter... Charged with public intox, he took a plea to give up the Glock in exchange for dropped charges... Just one of many pistols he has!
Brent
hogdogs is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 02:57 AM   #3
grey sky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 2, 2007
Posts: 324
slipery slopes

There was a time a convicted felon after serving his time "paying his dept to society" retained his rights or was reinstated.
I am not clear on when that changed.
Mental disability is not always permanent or can be treated with medication. Indiana restricts gun purchases for 3 years if one has been treated for alcohlism and 5 years if one has been treated for drug addiction.
People do change over time some for the better some not. Who would determine unfit status? Or decide if one has been redeemed. I susspect it would be dependent on social status and cash on hand.
Was not Pres bush the junior a recovering alcoholic (maybe a problem drinker) posibly not fit to own a gun but fit to be pres

Last edited by grey sky; June 14, 2009 at 02:57 AM. Reason: spelling
grey sky is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 08:27 AM   #4
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,698
Actually, there is a process already out there that involves taking people to court and having them adjudicated mentally ill and a danger to themselves or others. When this happens, they are supposed to lose their gun rights.

Thanks to the NRA, there is also a process where they can reapply to have their gun rights reinstated if they later improve that is managed by the states. Prior to this, if you were declared mentally ill then you were stuck in the NICS database forever with no chance of being removed since Congress had defunded that portion of the law.

It is worth noting that one of the real problems here is that you do not want to make a law so harsh that it discourages people from seeking the treatment they need to get better for fear of losing of their rights. This is why the "danger to themselves or others" part is an important part of the equation. Simply having some mental problems isn't enough.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 12:39 PM   #5
DeltaB
Member
 
Join Date: June 5, 2009
Posts: 70
You know, I've been debating this around for a while now, but you know, when we begin to infringe on the constitutional right to own and bear arms, we risk taking away the rights of so many for the the worry of so few. As many have said there are things in place by various states who issue CCW permits which does a pre-screen, and to purchase weapons you must also be screened. I guess it comes down to this. This great nation we call our home has survived some 200+ years with this right in tact, and the self-correcting method using the court of law and the penalty of law as it's method. We have to individually take responcibility for our own actions with our use of deadly force.

It's oft been said we cannot legislate out stupidity...
DeltaB is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 12:54 PM   #6
hogdogs
Staff In Memoriam
 
Join Date: October 31, 2007
Location: Western Florida panhandle
Posts: 11,069
And who is crazy? Mental health care is just too subjective and open to "opinion" by the doctor. Unlike physical maladies, mental illness rarely is identifiable in actual tests. Heck, just watch the drug commercials. They will say things akin to "We ain't sure how it works but it may be blocking or aiding the flow of..."
And what really proves it is basically no more scientific than witchcraft is the same drug is used to treat opposing indications... So you treat depression with a drug that may cause depression?
I am sure that if I answered all the questions with honest answers to how I understand the question I would be deemed a nut as would many other responsible law abiding gun owners!
Brent
hogdogs is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 01:15 PM   #7
ImprobableJoe
Junior member
 
Join Date: June 11, 2009
Posts: 87
Quote:
We have to individually take responsibility for our own actions with our use of deadly force.
Yes, but... isn't that the problem that this thread is dealing with, people who for some reason have an impaired ability to take responsibility, or at least to behave in a responsible manner? You have to balance the right to carry with the right of folks not to get gunned down by a crazy person. If push comes to shove, inconvenience for gun owners is worth less dead bystanders.

How much inconvenience? That's debatable, and probably contains pitfalls that we haven't even imagined. But is the alternative to just do nothing? Some people should never be allowed to own any weapons, ever. Don't we have a responsibility to pick them out, keep an eye on them, and keep them from hurting themselves and others? I know it borders on "nanny state" but I'm not sure we throw people's lives away to avoid crossing a philosophical line.
ImprobableJoe is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 01:40 PM   #8
DeltaB
Member
 
Join Date: June 5, 2009
Posts: 70
Joe, I think it's a good thing to examine the situation....
DeltaB is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 01:43 PM   #9
publius
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 25, 2005
Location: Mississippi/Texas
Posts: 2,453
Indiana restricts the purchase of firearms for a period of time if one has been treated for alcoholism or drug addiction? Brilliant! give people with a problem an incentive not to get help. Big, big difference between drinking too much and being mentally unstabe.
__________________
"Suppose you were an idiot, and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself." Mark Twain
publius is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 01:49 PM   #10
44 AMP
Staff
 
Join Date: March 11, 2006
Location: Upper US
Posts: 11,563
Doctors (especially mental health professionals) are the last ones..

We want making the decision. Their opinions can be of value, but they should NOT have the final say. Remember it was only about 50 years ago that homosexuality was a listed and recognised mental illness!

What it all really boils down to is the concept of prior restraint. You can't have a gun, (or sharp objects, or matches, etc.) because of what you might do.

One either has to accept the risk to society, balanced against the amount of good, or enforce total control, over everyone.

Sure, there are people out there who should not have a gun. No argument. BUT, until or unless they prove that they are unfit/irresponsible, through their actions, they must have the basic rights of every citizen.

Permits, licensing, classes, all these are things the system does to minimize the risk of someone who is unfit having a gun. But, unless they are adjudicated by a court (the legal process of stripping them of their rights, for public safety), they are the same as the rest of us. Equal treatment under the law.
__________________
All else being equal (and it almost never is) bigger bullets tend to work better.
44 AMP is online now  
Old June 14, 2009, 02:35 PM   #11
OuTcAsT
Senior Member
 
Join Date: January 8, 2006
Location: Nashville, TN
Posts: 1,201
Quote:
Some people are mentally unstable and have never committed a felony. However, many people feel that they should not be allowed to carry or have access to a firearm.
And conversely, "many people" feel ;

Quote:
This great nation we call our home has survived some 200+ years with this right in tact, and the self-correcting method using the court of law and the penalty of law as it's method.
It has nothing to do with "feelings" and everything to do with rights.

The incident that prompted this question is a fine example; While the pharmacist has never been in any kind of trouble until now, he might very well have lived his entire life without ever being on the wrong side of the law, Does he have "issues"? By all indicators thus far, yes, but that does not change the fact that he was, up to a point, well within the law. He chose to cross the line, and the law will now hopefully set that right. Was his mental health a factor?
Possibly, or not, but the system was already in place to deal with it.

One of the best quotes thus far on the subject;

Quote:
Permits, licensing, classes, all these are things the system does to minimize the risk of someone who is unfit having a gun. But, unless they are adjudicated by a court (the legal process of stripping them of their rights, for public safety), they are the same as the rest of us. Equal treatment under the law.
__________________
WITHOUT Freedom of Thought, there can be no such Thing as Wisdom; and no such Thing as public Liberty, without Freedom of Speech. Silence Dogood

Does not morality imply the last clear chance? - WildAlaska -
OuTcAsT is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 02:45 PM   #12
alloy
Senior Member
 
Join Date: September 11, 2008
Posts: 1,931
The worst slippery slope...any tying of health(physical or mental) to gun rights outside of some type of felonious mental health conviction. I vote no. No comment on the database required for enforcement.
__________________
Quote:
The uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done?
Angelo Codevilla
alloy is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 03:18 PM   #13
Wildalaska
Junior member
 
Join Date: November 25, 2002
Location: In my own little weird world in Anchorage, Alaska
Posts: 14,174
How many permitted CCW'er commit crimes?

What is the percentage of gun crime perpertrated by those without a prior criminal record?

WildkeyissuesAlaska TM
Wildalaska is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 03:53 PM   #14
ZeSpectre
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 4, 2007
Location: Shenandoah Valley
Posts: 3,276
Quote:
How do you create a policy limiting access to firearms for those people who are mentally unstable without infringing on stable, law-abiding citizens 2nd Amendment rights?
There was a time when folks simply knew each other and family would say "oh we don't let Uncle Bob have guns". Certainly not a perfect system but the older I get the more I'm concerned about convicting people before they've committed any crimes. There are a LOT of types of mental illness that wouldn't make the person unsafe with a firearm so we can't simply throw one huge blanket over the issue and call it done.

Yes there is a risk in playing to the side of liberty, but nobody ever said freedom was safe.
__________________
"The dogs may bark but the caravan moves on"
ZeSpectre is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 07:16 PM   #15
Glenn E. Meyer
Staff
 
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Posts: 15,756
The current system is fine. Given the tremendous number of people who need some kind of meds or therapy - you might end up taking gun rights from a 1/3 of the population. You would also discourage those who need it from getting help. That already happens in the military and police situations.

There needed to be a touch of fixup after VT and Cho but we don't need a broad expansion of categories.
__________________
NRA, TSRA, IDPA, NTI, Polite Soc.
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...05_Feature.htm
Being an Academic Shooter
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...11_Feature.htm
Being an Active Shooter
Glenn E. Meyer is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 07:49 PM   #16
Micahweeks
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2009
Location: North Mississippi
Posts: 849
So are we saying that it is one hundred percent, ethically acceptable to allow all people under the influence of mind-altering narcotics to have on their person a firearm?

Let me be clear. I don't necessarily think they should be denied. But, surely you can all see how, at face value, this argument does provide some degree of ammo to the gun control crowd. They can easily say that we, the 2nd Amendment activists, want severely bi-polar Jane Doe, who has a history of mental instability and attempts to harm herself, to pack a 1911 in public regardless of whether or not she has had her lithium as long as she paid her CCP fee and attended her class. Heck, in Mississippi, forget the class. She has to go the polling station, pay a fee, and get her picture taken. 30 to 90 days later, her permit is in the mail.

This seems like an argument that will get thrown back in our faces. It feels wise to have something better than, "All people, regardless of their state of mind, should have the right to own and carry a firearm until they violate the law." I can only foresee disaster if we ever actually tried to use that in a legal political forum such as the supreme court or Congress.
Micahweeks is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 07:59 PM   #17
Glenn E. Meyer
Staff
 
Join Date: November 17, 2000
Posts: 15,756
Do you want a set of federal or state sanctioned mental health exams for gun owners?

Given 50% of the households in the USA have guns - let the testing start.

Or do you propose that if someone is declared mentally incompetent or a danger to others, that they have their firearms taken away?

Someone simply being on antidepressives or the bipolar drugs - is that enough to take them away their gun rights. I suppose that someone on antischizophrenia drugs should not be allowed to vote. For example, they might start believing what Fox News says in their paranoia.

There are court standards for declaring mental incompetence and they vary in places. Do you propose that a simple history of disorder without a declaration of incompetence be enough?

What disorders from the DSM-IV are trigger points for taking away guns?
__________________
NRA, TSRA, IDPA, NTI, Polite Soc.
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...05_Feature.htm
Being an Academic Shooter
http://www.teddytactical.com/archive...11_Feature.htm
Being an Active Shooter
Glenn E. Meyer is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 10:37 PM   #18
grey sky
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 2, 2007
Posts: 324
Google this: interesting

Google: INDIANA HANDGUN APPLICATION
the last question about whether one has had mental health treatment when (acctualy says if ever no time limit) where and instructs one to get a letter of the recomendation. So no way to tell if that social worker (with an unknown opinion of your rights) that one spoke to 10, 15, 20years ago would give one a good reference or not. No court adjudication But ones rights may be at the whim of a councelor, who by the way may be bipolar themselves maybe on meds maybe not???????

Last edited by grey sky; June 15, 2009 at 04:58 AM. Reason: claricifation
grey sky is offline  
Old June 14, 2009, 11:55 PM   #19
El Paso Joe
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 4, 2006
Location: Spokane Valley
Posts: 327
I am a retired mental health professional & cd counselor. Still licensed to practice. Most of my work was with convicted felons, opioid addicts, and veterans. I am also an in-country Vietnam vet. In my experience there is no magic litmus test as to who should and should not be deprived of their constitutional rights. It is up to a court.

But this topic is a very slippery slope. The veteran with PTSD or depression or both will more likely than not present for something else - like substance abuse or DUI. Would we deprive a vet of their rights because of a disabling mental disorder that was the direct result of their service to their country? Can they be a danger to themselves or others? They can. Should they be able to posses anyway?

With the troops returning from OIF/OEF I think this is going to be a significant issue.

On the general question of a mental disorder, the DSM IV TR provides for diagnostic criteria but the tacit assumption is that once diagnosed one will always have the disorder - but it can be treated. If someone is diagnosed with a disorder (like schizophrenia), at what point in treatment (remission) should the question of rights be addressed? Should there be follow up (anti-psychotics are not fun for those who take them and they are apt to go off them without notice).

Just no easy answers to these questions.
El Paso Joe is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 06:22 AM   #20
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,698
Instead of vaguely suggesting a problem exists ("Mentally unstable" people carrying firearms), maybe the OP should clarify for us what he means by "mentally unstable" so we can determine IF a problem exists.

To the best of my knowledge, the problem of mentally unstable people carrying firearms, even those who are already prohibited by NICS, is relatively rare and so rarely results in death or injury that I am unaware of any official metric for measuring it.

So once again, exactly what problem are we trying to fix by more regulation?
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 07:17 AM   #21
Micahweeks
Senior Member
 
Join Date: February 21, 2009
Location: North Mississippi
Posts: 849
Well, I wasn't trying to go into specifics, but I guess I can.

Take PTSD, as mentioned by the above poster. How about paranoid schizophrenia? Major depressive disorder accompanied with talk and thoughts of suicide and bodily harm.

Any number of things, really.

Here's how I look at it. In college, I roomed next to a guy we all called Bi-polar Paul (I know, horrible of us, but true). Now, Bi-polar Paul one day picked the lock of my dorm room to come offer me fried pancakes (we had no kitchen) while intermittently telling me how he used to play farm-league baseball with Bette Midler. Bi-polar Paul had a gun, and he frequently could be found after college sitting on his couch staring down the unloaded barrel with the gun point right at his eye.

I don't know about you, but I'm just not all that comfortable with someone like that living next to me with a gun! That's been years, but yikes!
Micahweeks is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 08:50 AM   #22
Bartholomew Roberts
Senior Member
 
Join Date: June 12, 2000
Location: Texas and Oklahoma area
Posts: 5,698
Quote:
Take PTSD, as mentioned by the above poster. How about paranoid schizophrenia? Major depressive disorder accompanied with talk and thoughts of suicide and bodily harm.
Since we have professionals who can address those issues, I'll leave it to them; but it strikes me that you can have a wide variety of paranoid schizophrenics, PTSD-sufferers, and major depressive disorders. Some will be safe with a firearm and some will not. Rather than paint with a broad brush and restrict everyone, I think the current system of taking someone who has a problem before a judge and having a court hearing with counsel present before we start stripping them of their rights sounds like a good idea.

Quote:
I don't know about you, but I'm just not all that comfortable with someone like that living next to me with a gun!
I don't know about you; but I'm just not all that comfortable with the way some people abuse their freedom of speech by making arguments based on vague anecdotes and telling me how they feel. Luckily for those people, my level of comfort with their exercise of a protected right is not the test for whether or not they get to use that right - as it should be.

But let's get down to brass tacks and assume that is not the case for you and your level of comfort can be translated directly into legislation. What exactly do you propose should be done about Bi-Polar Paul? If his dormmates are uncomfortable with him having a gun, should that be sufficient for him to lose his Second Amendment rights? And if not, then what would be sufficient in your eyes?

As an aside, what college did you attend where they allowed firearms in the dorms? I live in a fairly gun-friendly state and went to undergrad so long ago that attitudes about firearms were significantly different than today and even then, firearms in the dorms were a big no-no.
Bartholomew Roberts is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 09:52 AM   #23
maestro pistolero
Senior Member
 
Join Date: August 16, 2007
Posts: 2,091
Quote:
How many permitted CCW'er commit crimes?

What is the percentage of gun crime perpertrated by those without a prior criminal record?
Those numbers are microscopically low. If folks are screened according to their actual history, It's a very good predictor of future behavior. For example, I'm a 49 year old man with no criminal record or record of mental illness. The chances against someone like me me 'snapping' are quite bankable. Fast forward 40 years, if I'm still around, a little more scrutiny of my risk factor may be in order.

Just some thoughts. I know that requiring passing a test to exercise a right is inherently problematic and fraught with controversy.

On it's face, I am not opposed to a very basic competency test for firearms possession. But I don't want the government doing the testing. Let the NRA or have some trained volunteers (think voting poll workers) administer a very basic, fair, standardized test.

I think one should be able to demonstrate the ability to load, unload, keep the thing pointed in a safe direction, and keep the booger hook off the bang switch until ready to fire. Also any inability to engage in basic conversation in one's native language, barring any purely verbal disability, ought to warrant a closer look.

I welcome others thoughts on this.
maestro pistolero is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 10:10 AM   #24
PT111
Senior Member
 
Join Date: July 30, 2007
Posts: 1,041
The field of mentally incompetent for denial of guns is too subjective and actually unknown to ever make some kind of qualification test anything other than a witchhunt except in those extreme cases where family or friends actually decide to intervene. I think I saw where 1 out of 5 Americans are using some kind of mood altering drug, for lack of a better term, for some form of mental stress or whatever. Do all of these need to be restricted?

I read a great article recently on the difference between a psychopath and a sociopath and when you get down to it the differences and similarities are truly scary. Seldom is either one known or diagnosed until they make the news. I could go on and on about that but the bottom line is there is no way to determine who is unfit. Under a lot of standards I suspect that at least 70% of those hat post o n this board would be unfit.
PT111 is offline  
Old June 15, 2009, 01:18 PM   #25
Vanya
Staff
 
Join Date: July 7, 2008
Location: Upper midwest
Posts: 3,947
Given the way that "mental illness" has been, as it were, popularized (largely by drug companies) in the past couple of decades, it would be really problematic to decide that anyone with a diagnosis should be deprived of any rights, whether to own guns, vote, etc. Such a move would deprive far too many people of their rights for no good reason.

And it's very hard to know how much more likely the mentally ill are to commit crimes, in any case, given that when anyone without a prior record commits a violent crime, some commentators always attribute their actions to mental illness even when they've never been diagnosed with one. The whole thing becomes a bit circular: committing a violent crime becomes evidence of mental illness, therefore it's the mentally ill who commit crimes, therefore they need to be regulated more than "the rest of us."

As maestro pistolero noted, "If folks are screened according to their actual history, It's a very good predictor of future behavior." So, look at people's behavior as perhaps predictive of future violence, and then decide whether to extend restrictions on gun ownership based on criminal conduct: perhaps add some violent misdemeanors to the list, as well as the felony convictions which are grounds for restriction under current law. If there's a general pattern of continued violence following particular offenses, then it might be warranted to restrict the rights of those who commit them.

But anything of the sort should be based on data, not on unsupported assumptions about who is a threat. Restricting the civil rights of people whose only offense is living in a society in which mind-altering drugs are very heavily marketed, and believing what they see on TV, is a poor idea...

The case of narcotic pain killers is a bit different from that of psychoactive drugs, but I'd still argue that using prescribed narcotics ought not to be a reason for someone's being deprived of rights: I've known plenty of people who legitimately needed them, and they're not getting high: they are, with luck, controlling intractable pain, and they aren't necessarily mentally impaired as a side effect. When narcotics are prescribed inappropriately, to people who don't need them, that's a quite different thing; but the solution to that is to go after the prescribing doctors, not to penalize the people who legitimately need them.
__________________
"Once the writer in every individual comes to life (and that time is not far off), we are in for an age of universal deafness and lack of understanding."
(Milan Kundera, Book of Laughter and Forgetting, 1980)

Last edited by Vanya; June 16, 2009 at 05:36 PM. Reason: a teeny grammatical correction...
Vanya is offline  
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:31 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
This site and contents, including all posts, Copyright © 1998-2014 S.W.A.T. Magazine
Copyright Complaints: Please direct DMCA Takedown Notices to the registered agent: thefiringline.com
Contact Us
Page generated in 0.13309 seconds with 7 queries