Q: Does mental illness cause gun crime?
A: Rarely. Most mentally-ill people aren’t dangerous.
Almost every perpetrator of gun crime, even if he or she has mental illness symptoms, knows he or she is committing a crime and makes a conscious decision to go through with it.
To be “not guilty by reason of insanity,” one generally needs to have been so mentally ill that he or she couldn’t know what he or she was doing or couldn’t differentiate legal from illegal. A person who’s that mentally ill generally isn’t capable of the multi-step planning which precedes most gun crime, particularly the complex planning, preparation, and practice associated with mass shootings. In addition to those “three p’s,” concealment, stealth, and flight demonstrate consciousness of guilt, suggesting a legally-sane perpetrator, not a “sicko.”
Q: Do psychoactive medications cause gun crime?
A: Rarely, if ever.
While psychoactive medication histories are characteristic of many perpetrators, in my opinion, they’re not likely causal. Millions have taken those same medications without incident. When a perpetrator of gun crime has been medicated psychiatrically prior, it generally suggests to me just that someone had identified the perpetrator’s volatility and tried (unsuccessfully) to contain it chemically.
Q: So what does cause gun crime?
A: Mostly narcissistic entitlement to act sociopathically as judges, juries, and executioners of victims whom perpetrators perceive to have slighted, insulted, marginalized, or otherwise injured them, or simply to have gotten in their ways (e.g., between them and money, things, or people to which they feel entitled).
This malignant mentality has existed throughout human history in all races and cultures (although in every race and culture, it exists more in males than in females, because the male brain generally has a greater capacity for violence, both offensive and defensive, than the female brain — yes, gender differences exist, shocking as that may be).
Q: Will better access to mental healthcare stop gun crime?
A: Generally, no.
Most perpetrators of gun crime have had access to mental healthcare. It’s highly unlikely that a shrink can talk, or medicate, someone out of sociopathic thoughts or behaviors. Even when shrinks believe that patients are dangerous, we generally can’t hospitalize them involuntarily unless they express intent to do imminent bodily harm to themselves or others. And when involuntary hospitalizations happen, they generally last less than three days, because the patients quickly wise up and say they won’t hurt anyone. Shrinks could be more helpful if: 1) it were made less risky, liability-wise, for us to warn authorities and potential victims of credible-but-not-necessarily-imminent threats, and 2) the state-hospital infrastructure, which was dismantled with “deinstitutionalization” in the 60’s and 70’s (when we thought we could treat every patient as an outpatient at “community mental health centers”), were rebuilt so that, when we do see dangerously-mentally-ill patients whom we can justify hospitalizing longer, we have beds for them.
Q: Will gun-control legislation stop gun crime?
A: Generally, no. Perpetrators don’t obey laws, so gun-control legislation generally will just make it harder for law-abiding people to get and carry guns.
Even in states and countries with strict gun-control legislation already in place, determined perpetrators generally find guns.
If gun-control legislation stopped gun crime, Chicago would have less gun crime per capita than cities here in Kansas, where any sane, law-abiding, adult citizen can carry a gun. And with roughly 300,000,000 guns in circulation, it’ll never take a determined perpetrator long to find one in the USA. Countries where gun laws seem to work better generally have had, at some point, regimes — monarchies, dictatorships, occupations, etc. — which disarmed their populations (something we never want to happen here and something an armed populace deters), so, fewer guns per capita are available in those countries today, and still, incidents happen regularly.
Even if we improve our patchy background-check system such that, for example, involuntary mental health hospitalizations show up reliably nationwide, it’ll only affect regulated gun sales, so while it’s not a worthless exercise, it’s not a roadblock either; it’s a speedbump. Even if it were a roadblock, determined perpetrators deprived of one means find others — cars, pressure cookers… It’s the perpetrators, not the means, that need to be controlled.
Q: So how do we stop gun crime?
A: We don’t — not completely — but here’s how we stop as much as possible: Perpetrators generally show us what they are by committing prior, less-lethal crimes which often aren’t reported or aren’t charged, or the charges are dismissed or plea-bargained down, or they’re punished passively.
So, first, we get tough, all of us — citizens, legislators, cops, prosecutors, jurors, and judges — reporting crime, arresting criminals, prosecuting crime, and punishing criminals aggressively; thereby getting would-be perpetrators off of our streets sooner and longer.
Second, we harden soft, obvious targets like K-12 schools and churches.
And third, we make it easier, not harder, for sane, law-abiding, adult citizens to get and carry guns. Perpetrators of mass shootings, for example, almost always are cowards who want to cause suffering but not suffer, so they generally flee, surrender, or commit suicide as soon as they perceive imminent personal pain — hence, the more they anticipate that, the less likely they are to attempt attacks, and when they do, the less lethal they’ll be.
Q: Am I really more likely to be shot with my own gun than to successfully defend myself or others with it?
A: Not unless you might commit suicide or be killed by a member of your own household with it. That statistic is the result of lumping suicides and domestic homicides together with accidents and rare instances in which unknown assailants shoot victims with their own guns. (That said, you do need to ensure that your gun is not accessible to a child or to a cognitively-impaired adult.)
Brian Russell wanted to learn how people could live together as peacefully and prosperously as possible, so he studied what makes us tick (and got a Ph.D. in clinical psychology), how public policy keeps us in line (and got a law degree), and what motivates us to do our best (and got an M.B.A.). Then, he put theory to the test, practicing both psychology and law, starting his own small businesses, consulting with business leaders and lawmakers, and traveling the world comparing what does and doesn’t work in 40 societies. Now, he shares his expertise in people, public policy, and productivity on national television and radio, in his book, "Stop Moaning, Start Owning: How Entitlement Is Ruining America and How Personal Responsibility Can Fix It," and here on Newsmax. Learn more at DrBrianRussell.com. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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