Opinion: Better mental health would help with more than mass shootings

A Fulton County Jail inmate with mental health issues leans against the exercise area door while in isolation. (AJC Photo / Phil Skinner)

The National Rifle Association did something unusual Thursday: It endorsed more regulation of firearms.

The organization, usually pilloried as the root of all evil after mass shootings like the one in Las Vegas on Oct. 1, asked the federal government to “immediately review” whether bump stocks, which the Las Vegas gunman reportedly used, comply with current law. The NRA said it “believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations.”

This announcement is unlikely to sate the appetite of those who want more stringent gun control. But reaching political consensus on anything more is an uphill battle.

That’s why I was intrigued by a survey the New York Times conducted in January (which I came across only this past week) about possible measures to curb gun deaths. It compared those measures’ popularity to experts’ opinions of their effectiveness. It also broke down the expert opinion into a couple of sub-groups: academics who generally oppose more gun control, and law-enforcement professionals.

As you might expect, the first group differed significantly from their peers who favor gun control. But presumably, gun-rights advocates would take their views, and those of law enforcement, more seriously. Endorsements by those two groups might point toward policies that have a real chance of becoming law.

The Times also noted what all experts surveyed thought would work specifically to curb mass shootings. Finally, it included what President Donald Trump has said he would support.

Out of 29 ideas, just one won approval from the experts at large, the anti-gun control experts, law enforcement and the president: expanding mental health treatment. (Interestingly, among those four, only law enforcement favored barring gun sales to the mentally ill; one wonders if a policy with due process protections, such as the one Georgia senators approved this year, might alleviate some concerns.)

More treatment wouldn’t be a panacea. So far there is no indication the Las Vegas gunman was diagnosed with a mental disorder, although the shooters in Newtown, Aurora and Virginia Tech all had a history of mental illness, and the Tucson shooter later was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. But as a starting point, we could do a lot worse.

We could also do a lot easier, which may be the main reason little has been done on this front. If we need motivation to tackle such a thorny and far-reaching problem, we can find it beyond the issue of violence.

Clearly, mental illness is at the heart of many suicides. It’s also one of the leading problems among the chronically homeless: In 2014, the Treatment Advocacy Center estimated one-third of America’s homeless suffered from untreated, serious mental illnesses. The knock-on effects reach into our jails, where many homeless Americans wind up, and our hospitals. A constant refrain from Georgia’s struggling rural hospitals is the challenge they face dealing with mentally ill persons who aren’t being treated regularly.

This has been a particular source of shame for Georgia over the years. The AJC’s 2007 series which revealed scores of unnecessary deaths in the state’s mental hospitals led to a federal investigation and, eventually, a settlement between the state and the Justice Department. Years later, improvement has been marginal.

Answers aren’t simple. What is most needed may be public resolve and insistence on progress.

That’s exactly what so many say, only to lose interest, after these shootings. If we want better, we’ll need to do better.

Reader Comments 0

185 comments
panacifuga
panacifuga

NĀthĀniÈl. I cĀn ŚÈÈ whĀt your ŚĀying... PĀul`Ś rÈΜĀrk iŚ nÈĀt, on thurŚDĀy I got Ā top of thÈ rĀngÈ NiŚŚĀn GT-R: ĀftÈr ΜĀking $6612 thiŚ lĀŚt four wÈÈkŚ ĀnD juŚt Ā littlÈ ovÈr tÈn-k lĀŚt Μunth. thiŚ iŚ cÈrtĀinly thÈ ÈĀŚiÈŚt work IvÈ hĀD. I ŚtĀrtÈD thiŚ fivÈ ΜonthŚ/Āgo ĀnD ĀlΜoŚt ŚtrĀight ĀwĀy bÈgĀn to ΜĀkÈ ΜorÈ thĀn $71 pÈr-hour. I work through thiŚ wÈbŚitÈ, 

ᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵᴵwww.7jobline.com

desiwijul
desiwijul

likÈ RĀnDĀll ĀnŚwÈrÈD I'Μ in Śhock thĀt pÈoplÈ cĀn ΜĀkÈ $6888 in 4 wÈÈkŚ on thÈ . DiD you rÈĀD thiŚ ŚitÈ link 

>www.earnwithstyle.com

MarkVV
MarkVV

“Geez, these liberal left idiots are so far stupid they're off the charts.

SGTGrit’s contribution to the discussion. Don’t be mad at him, it is all he is capable of.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Geez, these liberal left idiots are so far stupid they're off the charts.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@SGTGrit 

And then you have the sane republicans such as Bob Corker.  


And then you have Donald Trump, who just 23% of Americans consider an honest person.  Think about that.  What would that be like, every time you opened your mouth 3 out of 4 people thought you were lying?

bendedknee
bendedknee

Kyle has no problem with legally insane getting a gun permit five years after commitment if no new proceedings. How about an insane person buying an Ar-15 at a gun show?

breckenridge
breckenridge

There is a reason, and a very good reason, Generals James Mattis and John Kelly made an agreement to never be out of the country at the same time while serving in the Trump administration.  Trump is a loose cannon, an irresponsible, impulsive and emotionally stunted punk, and they do not trust him to act responsibly.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

So the NFL issue just won't go away. Things have been snowballing since Trump made those comments in AL.


Tried of the president dividing us and focusing on petty stuff. Things economically have been stable in this country which is a saving grace. But once economic hard times come, we will be looking to the president to provide assurances and a cool hand. I don't see any of that coming from this president.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle

Economic hard times?

Possible but not likely, not with a Repub in the WH and the make everyone a homeowner insanity behind us.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @McGarnagle


Shortsightedness to think we will not encounter an economic bump down the road. It happens regardless of who's president. Next months job reports numbers will be interesting.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

The NFL player kneeling controversy is deeper than it appears.

The NFL already has a rule that players will stand during the anthem, so why don't they enforce it?

Why are the owners and the commissioner afraid to tell the players to stop the kneeling?

Now, before someone comes back with first amendment rights, forgetaboutit as the players are at work and the first amendment does not apply - they must do what the NFL dictates.

The NFL is afraid because of the black backlash.

Our nation has become so sensitive to what blacks and their primary supporters say about something that almost all of them cowar.

But not Trump.

And for that the Left is in flames against Trump for simply having the balls to say no, enough.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb


Stand. sit. knee. jump. Do whatever the heck you want as long as it doesn't infringe on my rights.


If you get offended for someone kneeling, then stop being a snowflake and move on. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

Mike Pence is being criticized for walking out of the Colts game yesterday.  I really don't see why though. He was simply practicing free speech, just as the San Francisco players protesting were.


Of course if he were still around today James Madison, the Father of the Constitution and author of the Bill of Rights, would have walked out in protest when Pence signed the Indiana anti-gay legislation into law on March 26th, 2015.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

Yea, they would have asked "are you kidding me?"

What's this BS about men marrying?

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@breckenridge  I'd guess Pence's ticket was a comp, so probably no great loss for him.

Your average fan otoh who forked over a couple hundred $ for a ticket didn't have that luxury but had to sit there, basically a captive audience, and grit his/her teeth while the players did their "look at me" thing.

Aquagirl
Aquagirl

@breckenridge Mike Pence's exercise of free speech cost taxpayers $$$$. That's the difference.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

You are such an ignorant fool. You know absolutely nothing about James Madison and his absolute belief that religion and government should be kept entirely separate.

 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

He may run for President since he's smarter and has more leadership skills that most elected repubs!

breckenridge
breckenridge

Since he's not going to run for the Senate again, Bob Corker is speaking his mind.  And he speaks for many republicans in the Senate when he let's it be known what he really thinks of Donald Trump.

Kathy
Kathy

SS Disability would include seniors and other citizens who have a medical disability or disease. I don't think this is the population we need to fear.

breckenridge
breckenridge

"those idiots among us who think all we need to do is talk to our enemies."  Johnny Reb

"This is the calm before the storm." Donald Trump 


"War is mankind's most tragic and stupid folly; to seek or advise its deliberate provocation is a black crime against all men."  General Dwight D Eisenhower, 6-3-1947




SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Starik @SGTGrit @breckenridge 

When Kennedy and later LBJ were in office the French war had been concluded and it was a new war for us. Nixon claimed peace with honor but it was far from that in its conclusion.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@breckenridge 

Of course Eisenhower and Truman before him supported the French in their war to maintain a French colony in Vietnam. Bet you didn't know that.

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @breckenridge  And then Kennedy, LBJ and Nixon continued on with the war, a continuum of spectacular errors. And then we got Afghanistan and Iraq. Lessons not learned. 

Starik
Starik

@SGTGrit @Starik @breckenridge  Nice to know we expended 58,000- lives to maintain French morale and then for... what? Because successive Presidents didn't want to lose a war? 

breckenridge
breckenridge

"It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center."  US Senator Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, 10-8-2017

Good call Bob.

bu22
bu22

@breckenridge  Somebody has to take care of the overgrown children in the Senate.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Learned an interesting counter to Prog claims that Trump and the NRA are against banning gun purchases by the mentally ill.

The order that Trump put out to the Social Security Administration to stop giving mental health information to the department controlling back ground checks is this.

The Obama administration had instructed the SS administration to treat as mental illness a senior who had asked for help controlling their finances - balancing their check book.

Trump simply stopped that so a senior who might not be able to balance his checkbook could pass a background check.

I'v known some perfectly sane young people who could not balance their checkbook.

This is another example of fake news and propaganda from media and Progs.

AvgGeorgian
AvgGeorgian

@JohnnyReb

Are you intentionally Lying or just to lazy to read?


Although this rule implementation has been reported in some quarters as an attempt to bar all Social Security recipients from gun ownership, it would pertain exclusively to the subset of Social Security disability recipients who have been deemed incompetent to handle their own financial affairs.

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

@JohnnyReb  The BHO administration's SSA/financial responsibility move was probably well-intentioned, the natural response to "somebody DO something" that is always heard after shooting incidents.

However like other of their social engineering schemes the implementation fell way short of the aim - Obamacare being another example. 

Starik
Starik

@AvgGeorgian @JohnnyReb  With the Trump supporters it's essential to find facts, interpret facts or find questionable facts on friendly websites to reinforce and defend their faith in Trump. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@stogiefogey @JohnnyReb

There was almost nothing from the Obama administration well intended.

Perhaps in the eyes of those with their hands out.

Perhaps in the eyes of those idiots among us who think all we need to do is talk to our enemies.

The single driving principle of the Obama administration was wealth distribution.

The other things he did, and not very well, were tasks that came with the job.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@AvgGeorgian @JohnnyReb

So you enlist with the idea that someone incapable of handling their finances are mentally ill?

Think before you answer.

A yes means you are including a huge portion of the Dem base.

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @stogiefogey  "those idiots among us who think all we need to do is talk to our enemies." So you want to start a war. Have you ever served in one? 

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

So how do all people, esp the homeless, get mental health help? Uh....healthcare!

Now how can a homeless get HC? They do not have bootstraps !

breckenridge
breckenridge

@RoadScholar 

That's not....it's just.........look, all you're trying to do is throw cold water on a shallow talking point.  Don't you know that the mental health discussion has a limited shelf life, and just as soon as the next news cycle starts it will go back on the shelf until we have another mass shooting?

Geesh. It's not like we're talking actual policy change.

Starik
Starik

@FIGMO2  That's an excellent site. The problem is a lack of enthusiasm for addressing the problem, even in the face of mass killings. Another is a lack of money. Another is the left wing prejudice against hospitals. 

breckenridge
breckenridge

October 6 - The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies coverbirth control methods at no cost to women.

According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

Trump, once again catering to the parasites that are the Religious Right leaders.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@breckenridge Can those who work for these businesses dump there unwanted children on that business's doorstep? Cause and affect!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

You breckenridge are so tormented with religion you think it's only the religious Right who wanted the birth control mandate reversed.  Not so.

There are lots of folks who think employers should not be forced to provide birth control.

Birth control is not an illness so putting making birth control free to employees was another of Obama's spread the wealth tricks.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@RoadScholar @breckenridge

There is a lot of free birth control out there if a person can't pay for their own.

And BTW, those same people who claim they need the free birth control manage somehow to buy cigarettes, alcohol, and pay for a smart phone.

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Parents take care of kids. When they do not they need to be held accountable. When they cannot there are safety nets. Society's reluctance to hold people accountable does not justify individual or collective mass murder.

It has been pointed out the Trump tax cut would cover the cost of preventive contraception.

Starik
Starik

@DawgDadII  Expensive safety nets when they're small; prison is expensive when they grow up. You consider contraception murder?