Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Let's Ban Schizophrenia

Ok full disclosure, I have an autistic kid. If you know anything about autism you know it's a spectrum disorder that can go from the, I suppose non-sentient (who knows) to the socially awkward, ultra-nerd. My kid is about in the middle. I've been around families with three autistic kids that pretty much screamed day and night so I'm thankful for what we have. My son can do math, read and write (if that's what you want to call it) but he will never hold a job. Left to his own devices he would happily spend his days playing video games (racing games, geography games: NO SHOOTERS!), looking at books, eating Doritos, grapes and Hershey bars (it seems) and harassing daddy to bring him out for a grilled cheese sandwich. He can be very belligerent but is never violent. The worst he'll do is slam doors and stamp his feet. He hates swearing and will demand you stop immediately, loves rock music (Bon Jovi, it's his mother's fault!) and Aquafina water bottles (don't ask).

The reason I bring this up is according to press accounts the shooter in this latest mass murder had Asperger's Syndrome. Now someone with Asperger's is at the top of the spectrum. They are for all intents and purposes normal (my wife hates that word) but just really, really nerdy! I have an Asperger's guy who comes in and does some data entry for me and he's a really sweet kid. But he wants to "hang out" and watch Ironman movies and such. I even watched half of The Avengers with him a couple of weeks ago because it's hard to tell him, well you know. But his parents know he's safe and they're nice folks so I can see myself watching Spiderman III sometime in the near future. I asked him a while ago how he likes being out of high school. He said he didn't miss school at all and there are probably a lot of people there who were glad to see him go. That's heartbreaking to me. He wants to be sociable, and he's interested in girls (I can tell) but he simply does not know how, and he has the awareness to feel rejection. So in a way my kid is the better off.

Now Asperger's is not exclusive of mental illness. This young man in Connecticut may have slipped into schizophrenia or some other mental pathology. The fact is we are all mad given the right conditions but I think the worst is social isolation. We've all seen the conditions some prisoners of war have endured but if they do it as a group they're usually ok. It's that group support that gets them through. But if you isolate someone, that can be the worst for one's mental health. And I suspect that's what happened to this guy. He had no friends, no future (as he saw it) and slipped deeper and deeper into the abyss. And as Nietzsche said "If you gaze long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you."

Have a look at the last few mass killers. In Aurora, Co. the guy was obviously intelligent, he planned the attack, booby-trapped his apartment, and he was crazy as a Junebug. Go down the list from the Unibomber to Columbine to this latest tragedy. Is there any doubt these people would have found a way to kill if guns were not available? Not in my opinion. And the ACLU's de facto denial of essential mental health services for folks who desperately need them on the grounds that the incompetent mentally ill choose not to receive those services, is, pardon me but insane.

What I'm saying is these are mental health issues not gun issues. I'm not opposed to reasonable regulation of firearms. If States want to require registration, some weapons training, even require gun-safes if one has multiple firearms then I'm all for it. Now I'm not talking about slow-walking gun permits in places like Chicago or D.C. because the locals don't agree with the 2nd. Amendment. We have a right to own and possess firearms but again reasonable regulation accepted. As a gun owner the last thing I want is the irresponsible use of firearms. I don't want the mentally ill, criminals, felons, the violence prone to have access to firearms. But disarming tax-paying, law abiding America is not the answer.


The Conservative Wahoo said...

Nicely done, Hammer.

Anonymous said...

You seem to totally ignore what we know about regulating guns. Japan has mentally ill people, just as we do, but in 2006 they had 2 gun related homicide instead of over 10,000 like we did. When you give virtually every adult (those with background of crime and mental illness included) unfettered access to assault weapons, hand guns, and body armor, there's going to a much greater likelihood that someone gets injured or killed by a deadly weapon.

That's just not the case in Japan, where you have to affirmatively show you are not mentally ill or a criminal, and even then you cannot purchase military style hardware or even hand guns. You also have to prove you have a plan to keep your shotgun or air rifle safely stored.

The example of Japan (and other places with meaningful gun regulation) provides a very clear answer to your question "Is there any doubt these people would have found a way to kill if guns were not available?".

Even letting only law-abiding Americans have access to deadly weaponry (see Arizona where law-abiding people are used as straw-purchasers to buy millions of dollars worth of assault weapons for Mexican cartels and other gangs) would still result in huge numbers of deaths. It's one thing to say that our creative and expansive reading of the 2nd amendment is so important to justify all those deaths, but it simply wrong to say that the majority of those deaths could not be prevented with stronger gun laws.

"The Hammer" said...

Nice bit of conjecture but the fact is we have 300 million guns in this country. We have a gun culture in that people like me believe we have a God given right to own firearms. As I said, it's not an absolute right, there should be regulation AND PENALTIES for misusing firearms. But if confiscation is what you advocate it would never work.
We've had guns owned by private citizens for centuries in America, but we never had killings like this before, at least not this often. I personally think it's a result of kids playing these incredibly violent video games which desensitize them to violence, especially the emotionally or mentally vulnerable.
Guns serve a purpose. They provide us a means of protection from criminals (and please don't tell me the police can protect us) and they serve to deter politicians from going too far. It would a brave politician indeed in these United States of American who tried to pull some the shit that Hugo Chavez or Vladimir Putin have pulled in their countries.

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