Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Gun violence and access to mental healthcare


A major focus of the effort to reduce senseless acts of gun violence is to make certain that individuals who might pose a danger because of mental illness do not have access to weapons. I wholeheartedly agree with this effort.

There are several circumstances under which mental health patients in California lose their right to purchase and possess firearms. These are specified in the California Welfare and Institutions Code, sections 8100 – 8108 and include:

• People involuntarily detained for 72 hours for inpatient psychiatric evaluation and treatment as a danger to self or others
• People court certified for 14 days for intensive psychiatric treatment
• People on a mental health (or LPS) conservatorship
• People making threats of physical violence
• People found by a court of any state to be a danger to others, who are mentally disordered sex offenders, found not guilty by reason of insanity of any crime, and who are incompetent to stand trial.

But, research has shown that mental illness by itself is not statistically related to committing acts of violence, and that people with serious mental illnesses are far more often the victims of violence, not the perpetrators. Whatever one’s opinion is of gun ownership, we must not let legitimate concerns about gun violence become the reason why someone avoids seeking much needed mental health treatment. As a practicing psychologist in our community, I am troubled that many people believe coming for treatment will cost them their right to own a gun. Unfortunately, the fear of being labeled as “mentally ill” for seeking professional help and thereby losing the right to own a firearm can prevent people with mental health problems from getting the help they need and deserve. This is a concern we must take seriously and address in a straightforward, honest manner without political hyperbole. We must clarify how and by whom the identification of the mentally ill is performed, where and by whom such information is stored and who can access and use the information. We must guarantee that such confidential health information does not jeopardize any individual’s ability to obtain health insurance, credit, employment or, when legal, a firearm.


Letters to the Editor


Discussion | 32 comments

  • cookie65April 24, 2013 - 6:55 am

    I don't disagree that individuals who need help should seek it. But your points regarding mental health and prospective gun ownership are based on static conditions. With our current crop of politicians, being all being all charge up on anti-2nd Amendment ignorance, and willing to do almost anything to achieve the leftist dream of abolishing the right to bear arms, you and I can only guess what they will attempt to pass next. Based on the track record of leftist ideology, your list of why people would be prohibited from gun ownership will grow substantially. The answer to your letter is quite simple. Even the mentally ill don't trust leftists.

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  • CatherineApril 24, 2013 - 7:40 am

    Good letter, because people worry unnecessarily. But, there actually is data that people with untreated psychosis disorders are more apt to initiate violent altercations. See the Treatment Advocacy Center. However, the state lacks the money to pick up guns from known felons, so there is close to zero chance they'd pick up guns even from psychotic people who were involuntarily committed. The law that covers purchases requires the hospital to report to the Federal database, the buyer to self-report, the seller to run the check, and then abide by the result. I don't think there's much to worry for non-psychotic folks, and psychotic people will simply buy on the Internet.

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  • Ken SteersApril 24, 2013 - 4:08 pm

    Catherine, have you purchased a gun on the internet? Can't do it. You are more likely to buy one from an illegal gun runner funded by the ATF. You can accomplish that quicker than you could say Fast and Furious.

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  • CatherineApril 24, 2013 - 5:21 pm

    Ken, yes, my mistake. A very ill psychotic person can buy bullets, not guns, on the internet. The guns he can borrow from a family member or neighbor. But people who just want a little talk therapy for a behavioral issue don't need to worry. No one will take their guns, since we don't take them from proven violent felons.

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  • Ken SteersApril 24, 2013 - 6:57 pm

    Catherine, would you loan a psychotic relative a gun? That would be a bad thing and illegal. Are you in charge of seizing weapons from felons? Unless certified by our government, not a good idea. We already have laws on the books here in California making it illegal for someone with a psychotic past to possess a firearm. As well as the strictest back ground checks in the country. Along with that, a 10 day "cooling off" period. California has the strictest gun laws in the nation. But you are advocating more laws. Are you saying that our government is not enforcing laws it past? Wouldn't that scenario be chaos and anarchy? So your answer to the mental patient ignoring existing laws by obtaining weapons here in our state is to pass even more laws? Somebody help me here. Isn't the definition of insanity, someone doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result? That's crazy

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  • CatherineApril 24, 2013 - 7:38 pm

    Don't misunderstand, Ken. The laws are good, and I don't advocate any change. The letter suggests that people who need to see a therapist for whatever reason may choose not to do so, in fear of somehow losing their guns. No worries for those folks. I'm simply suggesting that more stringent laws will have no affect on seriously ill people, who can be dangerously unpredictable, but have numerous other paths for executing on their delusions.

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 8:18 am

    There must be some very embarrassing stuff about public assistance and the Boston bombers for the left. They have sealed up any info on them tighter than obama's college transcripts.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 8:30 am

    Government deception / media complicity is not a left:right matter. It is what it is: GOVERNMENT DECEPTION / MEDIA COMPLICITY. It is ongoing and does not begin and/or end with any particular administration.

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 10:19 am

    Evelyn, thanks for explaining Benghazi for me. Recalling the difference between the media coverage of hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy. I saw a cartoon the other day, the theme of which was the media coverage of Sandy hook where dozens of babies died by assault rifle vs Philadelphia where dozens of babies died by scissors. I was always taught how to think, not what to think. A very wise person taught me something a very long time ago when I was struggling with teachings that I knew to be untrue (leftist indoctrination). They taught me that everything I see, hear and read is produced. It did not just come into existence. It was produced by a human being. A human being who will instinctively includes or excludes information based on their inherent bias. There exists in media, media not just being cable news the way most leftists understand the word but to include print, music, radio, movies, television, advertising, park benches, billboards and the side of buses an extreme bias and it has existed for decades. To say there is an equal dissemination of information when it comes to reporting is the stuff that comes from the south end of a north bound bull.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 10:54 am

    The media is all "owned". Everything produced serves a "purpose".

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 10:57 am

    P.S. If I somehow managed to explain to you Benghazi -- or anything else -- then I am to be heartily congratulated!

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 25, 2013 - 11:06 am

    Evelyn, your "media model" is too absolute and therefore overly simplistic. The government DOES NOT control Roger Ailes. Roger Ailes DOES NOT pull puppet strings. Roger Ailes hires talented people who STILL COMMIT RANDOM ACTS OF JOUNALISM.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 11:11 am

    Phil: You are right. I almost included a phrase such as: "with a few honorable exceptions" but didn't want to get involved in nitpicking over who those might be. But I would be glad to have someone point to the honorable exceptions is the mainstream media.

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 25, 2013 - 11:13 am

    I’M JUST GUESSING here, but I speculate that many who adhere to the theory that the media is under total government control also tend to ridicule Rush, FOX . . . or . . . Rush and FOX are not “media”?

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 11:18 am

    Speculate away! However, "total control" does not by definition mean government control. Most media is corporate owned/controlled. Question: Whose agenda is being served?

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 11:20 am

    RECOMMENDED READING: Upton Sinclair's 1919 book The Brass Check. Things have only got worse (much) in the last 96 years.

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 11:25 am

    Phil, here is a reality based explanation of Evelyn's "media model". While at the same time conflicting with her "media model".

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 11:45 am

    Phil, I saw this today, a friend posted it on facebook along with the guys picture.....You're an 19 year old kid. You're critically wounded , and dying in the jungle in the Ia Drang Valley , 11-14-1965, LZ X-ray, Vietnam . Your infantry unit is outnumbered 8 - 1, and the enemy fire is so intense, from 100 or 200 yards away, that your own Infantry Commander has ordered the MediVac helicopters to stop coming in. You're lying there, listening to the enemy machine guns, and you know you're not getting out. Your family is 1/2 way around the world, 12,000 miles away, and you'll never see them again. As the world starts to fade in and out , you know this is the day. Then, over the machine gun noise, you faintly hear that sound of a helicopter, and you look up to see an un-armed Huey, but it doesn't seem real, because no Medi-Vac markings are on it. Ed Freeman is coming for you. He's not Medi-Vac, so it's not his job, but he's flying his Huey down into the machine gun fire, after the Medi-Vacs were ordered not to come. He's coming anyway. And he drops it in, and sits there in the machine gun fire, as they load 2 or 3 of you on board. Then he flies you up and out through the gunfire, to the Doctors and Nurses. And, he kept coming back.... 13 more times..... And took about 30 of you and your buddies out, who would never have gotten out. Medal of Honor Recipient , Ed Freeman , died at the age of 80, in Boise , ID ......May God rest his soul..... I bet you didn't hear about this hero's passing.

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 25, 2013 - 12:15 pm

    Allocate at least 1 1/2 minutes to view this clip. Consider whether wrong information is agenda based or simply WRONG. Is the bad info part of an agenda? I believe it is not necessairily. Sometimes bad info is simply bad info. Conspiracists feast on bad info. . . . watch at least the first 1 1/2 minutes . . .LINK - everything about Newtown was wrong . . .

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 12:22 pm

    "My" media model??!!! THESE 6 CORPORATIONS CONTROL 90% OF THE MEDIA IN AMERICA (): GE, News-Corp, Disney, Viacom, Time Warner, CBS. And we would have it that their objective -- first & foremost -- is to tell us the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 12:23 pm

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 12:26 pm

    Missing link from my last HERE ********** Yes, sometime bad information is simply that: BAD INFORMATION. When mistakes are made, they are acknowledged and corrected.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 12:28 pm

    Apologies. I am becoming far too BOLD!!!

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 25, 2013 - 12:30 pm

    off to other tasks . . . . bold off

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 3:07 pm

    Would bad information include the media convicting Bush for the failures of local officials over Hurricane Katrina? Or blaming him for the people who ignored 5 days warning to get out? It isn't bad information that I take offense to with the media. It is the totally agenda based reporting, lying when it suits them and ignoring facts to support their predetermined agenda. Back in January I traveled from Georgia to California. One of the places I stayed the night was Laplace, Louisiana. Hurricane Isaac hit Laplace late August 2012, 6,000 people lost everything. Did the media spend weeks and weeks blaming obama for it? I spoke with several people there who told me nothing was done for them. How come the majority of media viewers have the opinion that Bush caused Katrina and have no clue about Isaac? Is that the bad information you are referring to or is it plain a simple telling people what to believe?

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 3:26 pm

    Cookie: I was simply acknowledging the truth of Phil's statement that "Sometimes bad info is simply bad info." Bad information (as in "error") is correctable. Misinformation is perpetuated with intent -- and malice.

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  • James E.April 25, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    We seem to throw the word hero around a lot these days. So, what is a hero? Ed Freeman is a hero. Think what he did the next time you call someone a hero out of hand. It's not easy to be a real hero.

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 3:28 pm

    Also Evelyn, you are making the mistake of labeling network, local and cable news as "media". I had a Librarian in grammar school who taught me what media is and I have never forgotten it. Media is everything. It is the cartoon that wraps around a piece of bazooka bubble gum. It is anything that stimulates our senses. What do you think the term "low information" voter refers to? People magazine has had moochelle obama on their cover more times than Jack Nicholson. Rolling Stone magazine has done more stories on the global warming fraud than they have on music. People are influenced by these things and where do they get an alternative viewpoint? When was the last time you saw a public transit bus that said "the green economy is a fraud" on the side of it? Or a public service billboard message that said oil is the driver of our economy? Or a Smokey Bear commercial that said there are more trees in the national forest than there were 100 years ago? You have heard and seen all the opposite.

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  • EvelynApril 25, 2013 - 3:34 pm

    Cookie: I fully understand the expansive meaning of "media". You simply made an erroneous assumption about what meaning I gave to the word. The fact that Disney is one of the six monopoly owners is a clue!

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 3:40 pm

    There are lots of examples of what I am talking about but one of them is very recent. The kids who celebrated Margaret Thatcher's death in England were not alive when she held office, yet they hated her. They don't watch the "news" so where did the learn to hate her?

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  • Phil VeerkampApril 25, 2013 - 7:14 pm

    Cookie, regarding explaining Benghazi to you - LINK - ( – The White House dismissed the signature of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on documents ignoring security concerns in Benghazi, calling it “protocol” for government official “signatures” to appear on documents they did not sign . . . her mind is still jello . . . post concussion syndrome . . . she knows NOTHING!

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  • cookie65April 25, 2013 - 8:37 pm

    Phil, it is totally laughable what these clowns get away with in the media. Have you seen how they have already had to start "walking back" the nonsense kerry has said? They need a full time spokesperson just to clarify what kerry and the crash-test-dummy say and they are slated as being the best and brightest the left has to offer on foreign policy. Not to worry though they get cheered on by people who get their political education from the likes of sarah jessica parker and george clooney. They are all an inch deep, obama, billary, warren, reid, pelosi, not a clue among them but they hand out the goodies.

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