What is mental illness? Where is the bright line drawn?

Submitted by Charlton Stanley, guest blogger
(Otteray Scribe)

Image What is mental illness?  It’s a hot topic in the news recently, because of proposed gun control legislation. I saw a photo yesterday of people holding up a huge sign saying, “Keep guns out of the hands of mentally ill.”

There is far more to the demonization of the mentally ill than just the firearms issue. It spills over into the Federal Aviation Administration and the Department of Transportation. It is not just guns; it is airplanes and trucks as well. This brings us to the core question of, “What is mental illness?”  The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition, Text Revision (DSM-IV-TR) is the current handbook for classifying mental disorders.  DSM-V is in the final stages of development and will be published in May 2013. That is only next month.

Which brings us back to the original question of what exactly is mental illness?  In New York, a man’s home was raided, his Concealed Carry Permit revoked and guns confiscated because someone told the police he was taking an anti-anxiety medication.  I have received emails in the past week from several friends about this issue.  One of them is a vet, M→F transgendered. She is concerned about being able to renew her own Concealed Carry Permit (CCP). As a veteran and avid target-shooting hobbyist, she is well trained in gun safety and use. As a transgender woman, she is a target and prey according to FBI statistics. Hate crimes against LGBT people are at a 14-year high.

According to the DSM-IV-TR, “Gender Identity Disorder” is one of the mental illnesses. In the DSM-V, it is renamed “Gender Dysphoria.”  While claiming it is not a mental illness, the fact that Gender Dysphoria is in the DSM-V in the first place makes it suspect in the eyes of many. Two days ago, she sent this excerpt from a local outlet:

The enforcement action started on March 29th when New York State Police asked the Erie County Clerk’s Office to pursue revoking the man’s pistol permit because he owned guns in violation of the mental health provision of New York’s newly enacted guns law called the SAFE ACT.

The allegation turned out to be untrue and his guns returned to him. As it turned out, the police, sua sponte, initiated the action. The only lawyer involved in the matter was the man’s own attorney.

Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs said, “When the State Police called to tell us they made a mistake and had the wrong person…it became clear that the State did not do their job here, and now we all look foolish.”

Flaws in the mental health reporting provisions of the NY SAFE Act were blamed for the misunderstanding.  The county clerk added, “Until the mental health provisions are fixed, these mistakes will continue to happen” (source: WKBW-TV)

The bigger issue is how come taking an anxiolytic prescribed by one’s family doctor disqualifying?  It would be interesting to know just how many of those raiding officers, and their supervisors, are taking medication for anxiety, depression or sleep.

Is mild anxiety a reason to stigmatize someone, and possibly violate his or her civil rights?  It gets better. The FAA Medical Examiner will not allow psychiatric medications for any class of Medical Certificate. If a psychiatric medication, it is an automatic disqualification. Several non-psychiatric medications are disqualifying as well. When Tagamet (cimetidine) was first released to treat ulcers and hyperacidity, it disqualified one from holding an FAA Medical Certificate in order to fly.  I first heard about that from a friend who was an Aviation Medical Examiner at the time. He told me the FAA put Tagamet on the list because, “It acts on the central nervous system.”

What is mental illness? Some say it is anything that is in the DSM. However, as I have pointed out in court many times, the DSM is a handbook put together by a committee. Everyone has heard the old joke about what a committee produces: “An elephant is a mouse designed by a committee.”

The new DSM-V will be expanding the definition of ADHD.  The definition of PTSD is supposed to be clarified in the final definition.  Homosexuality was removed from the DSM-IV. If it was a mental illness, the why was it removed? The answer to that is simple. It is not a mental illness.

Let’s look at posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a single example of a single disorder.  PTSD is classified as an anxiety spectrum disorder. Symptoms include feeling anxious, vivid dreams or memories of a traumatic event, and avoidance of situations that might remind one of the traumatic event.  Those are called “triggers.”  Some claim that only combat veterans can suffer PTSD. That is nonsense. The original trauma can be anything causing one to fear for their own life or safety, or that of others. No one knows how many Americans suffer from PTSD, but the NIMH estimates 7.7 million adults have diagnosable PTSD. That is about 3.5% of the population.  22% of Vietnam veterans returned with PTSD. My personal impression is that number is too low by a significant margin. Many people with PTSD have never been diagnosed. Why? Because they are afraid to talk to a doctor or clinical social worker.

How many rights should be taken from all those citizens and veterans, simply because they have PTSD?

When some of the most prominent mental health experts in the world cannot agree what mental illness diagnoses are, how are lawmakers, judges and law enforcement officers supposed to know? Is being transgendered a mental illness? How about homosexuality—oops, never mind, they took that out of the DSM-IV.  There are many people with bipolar disorder walking around and you will never know it, especially if they are taking their medication.  Should a person with well-controlled bipolar disorder be allowed to drive an 18 wheel truck, fly a light airplane, or own firearms?

It is interesting that the FAA has created a new class of aircraft, call Light Sport Aircraft” or LSA, which do not require an FAA medical certificate to fly.  A light sport pilot may fly with a valid and current driver’s license.  Glider pilots can exercise the privilege without a medical certificate.

This brings us to driver’s licenses. If a person, who is taking Xanax or some mild anti-depressant is not allowed to own firearms or fly a Cessna 172, why can they drive? An average automobile or pickup truck weighs almost two tons. They drive on two-lane roads at 55 or 60 mph. That means on a two-lane road, they are passing within two to four feet of each other with a closing speed of about 120 mph.

Just what is mental illness, and where is that bright line drawn for different activities and privileges of ownership? Think about it. Your physician has to give you a formal diagnosis in order to write a prescription for any medication. Almost any Primary Care Physician, especially family doctors, will tell you that a large percentage of their patients are receiving medications for diagnosed psychiatric conditions. The most common are depression and anxiety, either situational or endogenous.

Alcohol, in my opinion, is much more dangerous than any antidepressant or anxiolytic on the market.  Yet, alcohol is legal in most areas. The individual is responsible for keeping their alcohol level under the legal limit, without any government official monitoring them.  The rule for pilots is, “eight hours from bottle to throttle.”  In other words, if you intend to fly, there should be at least eight hours between the last drink and flying. My rule was always 24 hours just to be on the safe side. Alcohol is involved in far more assaults, shootings, auto crashes, and suicides than any psychiatric medication I know of.  That is because alcohol is a disinhibitor.

It is unfortunate that Congress saw fit to suppress data collection on firearms violence back in 1996. I see many pronouncements on violence related to firearms, but without real science, those pronouncements are meaningless.  Last January, President Obama lifted the 17-year drought on data gathering.  Some members of Congress and the NRA are demanding that the data not be used to promote or advocate any position on violence. Fine. That is the way data should be gathered—content neutral. That honors the null hypothesis approach to research.  However the results of the data fall, it should be accessible to other researchers. It must not be buried.

Legislation and administrative rules that limit rights are already having negative effects on people with mental health issues. They do not get treatment, or ask their doctor for advice. Sometimes they lie.  Sometimes a patient will show up, insist on paying cash, register under a John Doe alias, give a vacant lot as an address and use 888-88-8888 for a Social Security number.  Most people who need mental health medications or treatment refuse to seek help. If anyone thinks that is a good thing, they are not paying attention.

As my father used to say, “Anybody with one eye and half-sense could have seen that one coming.”

HIPAA is supposed to keep your records private, but they are accessible with a court order. Alternately, any agency issuing a license or certificate can insist on the applicant signing a HIPAA complaint medical release form. Sign the form or you do not get your license.  One must always beware the Law of Unintended Consequences.

Here are a few tidbits to chew upon. Please discuss. Where is that bright line?

412 thoughts on “What is mental illness? Where is the bright line drawn?”

  1. Elaine,

    Sure… I was thinking about getting it for the girls….. Guess I need 3…..

    One nation, under the gun.

    The Second Amendment reads, “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Arms are military weapons. A firearm is a cannon that you can carry, as opposed to artillery so big and heavy that you need wheels to move it, or people to help you. Cannons that you can carry around didn’t exist until the Middle Ages. The first European firearms—essentially, tubes mounted on a pole—date to the end of the fourteenth century and are known as “hand cannons.” Then came shoulder arms (that is, guns you can shoulder): muskets, rifles, and shotguns. A pistol is a gun that can be held in one hand. A revolver holds a number of bullets in a revolving chamber, but didn’t become common until Samuel Colt patented his model in 1836. The firearms used by a well-regulated militia, at the time the Second Amendment was written, were mostly long arms that, like a smaller stockpile of pistols, could discharge only once before they had to be reloaded. In size, speed, efficiency, capacity, and sleekness, the difference between an eighteenth-century musket and the gun that George Zimmerman was carrying is roughly the difference between the first laptop computer—which, not counting the external modem and the battery pack, weighed twenty-four pounds—and an iPhone.

    A gun is a machine made to fire a missile that can bore through flesh. It can be used to hunt an animal or to commit or prevent a crime. Enough people carrying enough guns, and with the will and the training to use them, can defend a government, or topple one. For centuries before the first English colonists travelled to the New World, Parliament had been regulating the private ownership of firearms. (Generally, ownership was restricted to the wealthy; the principle was that anyone below the rank of gentleman found with a gun was a poacher.) England’s 1689 Declaration of Rights made a provision that “subjects which are Protestants may have arms for their defence suitable to their condition and as allowed by law”; the Declaration was an attempt to resolve a struggle between Parliament and the Crown, in which Parliament wrested control of the militia from the Crown.

    In the United States, Article VI of the Articles of Confederation, drafted in 1776 and ratified in 1781, required that “every state shall always keep up a well regulated and disciplined militia, sufficiently armed and accoutred, and shall provide and constantly have ready for use, in public stores, a due number of field pieces and tents, and a proper quantity of arms, ammunition and camp equipage.” In early America, firearms and ammunition were often kept in public arsenals. In 1775, the British Army marched to Concord with the idea of seizing the arsenal where the Colonial militia stored its weapons. In January of 1787, a Massachusetts resident named Daniel Shays led eleven hundred men, many of them disaffected Revolutionary War veterans, in an attempt to capture an arsenal in Springfield; they had been protesting taxes, but they needed guns and ammunition. Springfield had been an arsenal since 1774. In 1777, George Washington, at the urging of Henry Knox, made it his chief northern arsenal. By 1786, Springfield housed the largest collection of weapons in the United States. In the winter of 1787, the governor of Massachusetts sent the militia to suppress the rebellion; the Springfield arsenal was defended. That spring, the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia. Among the matters the delegates were to take up was granting to the federal government the power to suppress insurgencies like Shays’ Rebellion. From Boston, Benjamin Franklin’s sister Jane wrote to him with some advice for “such a Number of wise men as you are connected with in the Convention”: no more weapons, no more war. “I had Rather hear of the Swords being beat into Plow-shares, and the Halters used for Cart Roops, if by that means we may be brought to live Peaceably with won a nother.”

    The U.S. Constitution, which was signed in Philadelphia in September of 1787, granted Congress the power “to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions,” the power “to provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress,” and the power “to raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years.”

    Ratification was an uphill battle. The Bill of Rights, drafted by James Madison in 1789, offered assurance to Anti-Federalists, who feared that there would be no limit to the powers of the newly constituted federal government. Since one of their worries was the prospect of a standing army—a permanent army—Madison drafted an amendment guaranteeing the people the right to form a militia. In Madison’s original version, the amendment read, “The right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed; a well armed and well regulated militia being the best security of a free country: but no person religiously scrupulous of bearing arms shall be compelled to render military service in person.” This provision was made in the same spirit as the Third Amendment, which forbids the government to force you to have troops billeted in your home: “No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.”

    None of this had anything to do with hunting. People who owned and used long arms to hunt continued to own and use them; the Second Amendment was not commonly understood as having any relevance to the shooting of animals. As Garry Wills once wrote, “One does not bear arms against a rabbit.” Meanwhile, militias continued to muster—the Continental Army was disbanded at the end of the Revolutionary War—but the national defense was increasingly assumed by the United States Army; by the middle of the nineteenth century, the United States had a standing army, after all. Harpers Ferry was the U.S. Army’s southern armory, Springfield its northern. In 1859, when John Brown and his men raided Harpers Ferry, they went there to get guns…

    In the two centuries following the adoption of the Bill of Rights, in 1791, no amendment received less attention in the courts than the Second, except the Third. As Adam Winkler, a constitutional-law scholar at U.C.L.A., demonstrates in a remarkably nuanced new book, “Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America,” firearms have been regulated in the United States from the start. Laws banning the carrying of concealed weapons were passed in Kentucky and Louisiana in 1813, and other states soon followed: Indiana (1820), Tennessee and Virginia (1838), Alabama (1839), and Ohio (1859). Similar laws were passed in Texas, Florida, and Oklahoma. As the governor of Texas explained in 1893, the “mission of the concealed deadly weapon is murder. To check it is the duty of every self-respecting, law-abiding man.”

    Although these laws were occasionally challenged, they were rarely struck down in state courts; the state’s interest in regulating the manufacture, ownership, and storage of firearms was plain enough. Even the West was hardly wild. “Frontier towns handled guns the way a Boston restaurant today handles overcoats in winter,” Winkler writes. “New arrivals were required to turn in their guns to authorities in exchange for something like a metal token.” In Wichita, Kansas, in 1873, a sign read, “Leave Your Revolvers at Police Headquarters, and Get a Check.” The first thing the government of Dodge did when founding the city, in 1873, was pass a resolution that “any person or persons found carrying concealed weapons in the city of Dodge or violating the laws of the State shall be dealt with according to law.” On the road through town, a wooden billboard read, “The Carrying of Firearms Strictly Prohibited.” The shoot-out at the O.K. Corral, in Tombstone, Arizona, Winkler explains, had to do with a gun-control law. In 1880, Tombstone’s city council passed an ordinance “to Provide against the Carrying of Deadly Weapons.” When Wyatt Earp confronted Tom McLaury on the streets of Tombstone, it was because McLaury had violated that ordinance by failing to leave his gun at the sheriff’s office…

    Gun-rights arguments have their origins not in eighteenth-century Anti-Federalism but in twentieth-century liberalism. They are the product of what the Harvard law professor Mark Tushnet has called the “rights revolution,” the pursuit of rights, especially civil rights, through the courts. In the nineteen-sixties, gun ownership as a constitutional right was less the agenda of the N.R.A. than of black nationalists. In a 1964 speech, Malcolm X said, “Article number two of the constitutional amendments provides you and me the right to own a rifle or a shotgun.” Establishing a constitutional right to carry a gun for the purpose of self-defense was part of the mission of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense, which was founded in 1966. “Black People can develop Self-Defense Power by arming themselves from house to house, block to block, community to community throughout the nation,” Huey Newton said.

  3. What Researchers Learned About Gun Violence Before Congress Killed Funding
    by Joaquin Sapien
    Feb. 25, 2013

    President Obama has directed the Centers for Disease Control to research gun violence as part of his legislative package on gun control. The CDC hasn’t pursued this kind of research since 1996 when the National Rifle Association lobbied Congress to cut funding for it, arguing that the studies were politicized and being used to promote gun control. We’ve interviewed Dr. Mark Rosenberg, who led the agency’s gun violence research in the nineties when he was the director of the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

    We talked to Rosenberg about the work the agency was doing before funding was cut and how it’s relevant to today’s gun control debate. Here’s an edited transcript.

    There’s been coverage recently about how Congress cut funding for gun violence research, but not much about what the agency was actually researching and what it was finding. You were in charge of that. Tell us a little bit about what the CDC was doing back then.

    There were basically four questions that we were trying to answer. The first question is what is the problem? Who were the victims? Who was killed? Who were injured? Where did they happen? Under what circumstances? When? What times of the year? What times of the day? What was the relationship to other events? How did they happen? What were the weapons that were used? What was the relationship between the people involved? What was the motive or the setting in which they happened?

    The second question is what are the causes? What are the things that increase one’s risk of being shot? What are the things that decrease one’s risk of being shot?

    The third question we were trying to answer is what works to prevent these? What kinds of policies, what kinds of interventions, what kinds of police practices or medical practices or education and school practices actually might prevent some of these shootings? We’re not just looking at mass shootings, but also looking at the bulk of the homicides that occur every year and the suicides, which account for a majority of all gun deaths.

    Then the last question is how do you do it? Once you have a program or policy that has been proven to work in one place, how do you spread it? How do you actually put it in place?

    So what were you were able to find before funding got cut off?

    One of the critical studies that we supported was looking at the question of whether having a firearm in your home protects you or puts you at increased risk. This was a very important question because people who want to sell more guns say that having a gun in your home is the way to protect your family.

    What the research showed was not only did having a firearm in your home not protect you, but it hugely increased the risk that someone in your family would die from a firearm homicide. It increased the risk almost 300 percent, almost three times as high.

    It also showed that the risk that someone in your home would commit suicide went up. It went up five-fold if you had a gun in the home. These are huge, huge risks, and to just put that in perspective, we look at a risk that someone might get a heart attack or that they might get a certain type of cancer, and if that risk might be 20 percent greater, that may be enough to ban a certain drug or a certain product.

    But in this case, we’re talking about a risk not 20 percent, not 100 percent, not 200 percent, but almost 300 percent or 500 percent. These are huge, huge risks.

    I understand there was also an effort to collect data on gun violence through something called the Firearm Injury Surveillance System. What did that involve?

    We were collecting information to answer the question of who, what, where, when, and how did shootings occur?

    We were finding that most homicides occur between people who know each other, people who are acquaintances or might be doing business together or might be living together. They’re not stranger-on-stranger shootings. They’re not mostly home intrusions.

    We also found that there were a lot of firearm suicides, and in fact most firearm deaths are suicides. There were a lot of young people who were impulsive who were using guns to commit suicide…

    How do you think the gun control debate might be different today, if you had been allowed to continue that research?

    I would like to think that we would have had answers to what works and what doesn’t work. I would hope that we know whether the kind of bans and restrictions that they have in Chicago really make a difference or don’t. I would hope that we would have had information about whether an assault weapon ban saves lives or doesn’t. Unfortunately, when you don’t have those data that really show you, scientifically, whether or not something works, then you end up with people making statements like the following, “Obviously, the assault weapon ban didn’t work, because Columbine happened.”

    That’s kind of like saying, “Vaccines don’t work because someone got the flu.”

  4. raff,
    That study was commissioned by Mayor Bloomberg. The data are also at least 12 years old. No one doubts there are shady dealers, but there are thousands of shows per year. Note the comments by legitimate licensed dealers about the “private sellers” undercutting them because they did no paperwork, paid no taxes and had no overhead. I think that is exactly what Gene and I both said above.

    The report also notes that already existing laws need to be enforced. That is exactly what everyone is already saying, including the NRA. There is something called ecological validity. Any study commissioned by Bloomberg and the City of New York is suspect before one even reads the title of the thing. Bloomberg is on record as being almost fanatically opposed to people exercising their rights under the Second Amendment. A number of GBs and commenters on this site have expressed concern about ecological validity issues when BP or Exxon produce studies showing no harm no foul on pollution studies. As a scientist, I have the exact same problem. Anytime a poll or study is commissioned by someone with a strongly held agenda, I grab my wallet and hang on.

    I would have been much more impressed had the study been sponsored by the ATF or CDC using fresh data from the past two years.

  5. OS,
    If you do not believe articles, how about a study by the City of New York? http://www.nyc.gov/html/om/pdf/2009/pr442-09_report.pdf This study showed that the sales at gun shows are a very troublesome problem. Not only are guns sold at these shows to people who have not been through a background check, there is also the straw buyer problem. That same NYC study stated that a 1999 report by the ATF concluded “30 percent of guns involving federal illegal trafficking investigations are connected to gun shows.”

    That same report also concluded: “ATF has also observed illegal activity by licensed dealers at gun shows: “unscrupulous gun dealers can use these free-flowing markets to hide their off the-book sales. While most gun show sellers are honest and law-abiding, it only takes a few to transfer large numbers of firearms into dangerous hands.” ‘

    See you tomorrow! I have to rest up and get ready for my grandsons who are visiting!! 🙂

  6. Gene,
    Yep. Not only does not hurt sales, it drives retail prices through the roof. Ask any pot dealer what laws against pot do for sales.

    I keep asking folks who want to register all guns or even prohibit them how they are going to go about doing it. No one has answered the question yet. With the advent of highly sophisticated 3-D printing, enforcement will not only become more difficult, it will become impossible.

    All the non-stop protests and hyperbole does is run the price up. I took my youngest to a gun show a few months ago. She had never been to one. A dealer had an AR-14 for sale, with a sticker price of $1,250. She loves to shoot an AR-14 because the smaller load makes it easier for her to handle than a larger caliber. We did not buy anything, but he apparently took a liking to her, because he dropped the price down to $750. He told me he was a sucker for big blue eyes. However, that is not the point of my story. Here is where things are going. This link was sent to me this morning. Notice the price tag.


    “Cheaper Than Dirt” is a big discount retailer. CTD is popular with sportsmen and law enforcement personnel because of their low prices. Lest anyone get their knickers in a twist about internet sales, they cannot ship directly to the customer. They ship to a local licensed dealer who has to complete the paperwork and do the background check before the customer is allowed to take possession of the rifle (for a fee). Now who could not have seen this coming? Certainly not my old economics professor.

  7. OS,

    “If there are scofflaw dealers and/or gun show promoters, what makes anyone believe they will obey new laws? ”

    I’ve known an illegal gun trader who also frequented shows. And parking lots. And bars. And back alleys. And motel rooms. Or any other place a buyer wanted to meet. The answer to your question is “not at all”.

    But he’d love him some more restrictions on assault rifles and big clips.

    Black (as in market) is good for his profits.

  8. You folks with the bet, Bron and RWL may want to hold off and end up calling it a draw- the older bomber seems to have some Islamist/Muslim stuff going on but the younger one has some social media postings that indicate that he was a dope smoking,911 truther. Other articles I read said his aunt was also into the 911 truth movement. The truth won’t be known until the younger one (captured, wounded in the leg and neck according to TV News) is questioned. This may have been a marriage made in hell, some weird hybridization of grievances or something else entirely. This story is still a mystery.


  9. raff, et al.
    In regard to the allegations that various individuals bought their weapons from shady dealers at gun shows, I would like to see the original documentation on that, rather than newspaper or internet columns.

    Same reason as my Mayflower “no fly” story. The press quite often gets it wrong. Was that a dealer at a sanctioned gun show; or if it was at a gun show, a deal consummated out behind the dumpsters and Port-a-Potties? Very few sponsored gun shows allow parking lot transactions for the simple reason it drains off business from vendors who paid good money for sales spaces in the venue. Most have police or private security officers watching for unauthorized activity around the building(s).

    Given what I know about the ATF from first hand experience, the allegations of illegal gun dealers at gun shows is about as probable as Republican claims of “Democrat” party voter fraud. Not saying it might not happen, but if so, it is rare. It is one thing to make a claim or assign blame, but it is quite another to prove it. That was where I was going when I was teasing raff, above. Darren and I were discussing this issue earlier before he had to catch his plane. There are extremists on both ends of the spectrum, right and left. People on the left who are so rabidly opposed to guns they are willing to bend truth (think James O’Keefe) to “prove” their point.

    I tend to be an analytical thinker and skeptic. That may come from years of learning to analyze statistical data, not to mention having people lie to me with a straight face and innocent expression. I want to know more than what some columnist on Salon, Rolling Stone or a newspaper claims.

  10. ‘Family’ Group Co-Opts Tragedy To Oppose ‘Sexual Liberalism’
    By Zack Ford
    Apr 19, 2013

    In an email sent to supporters before Thursday night’s manhunt began in Massachusetts, the Family Research Council attempted to appropriate recent tragedies as arguments that support their social conservative positions. Referring to the Republicans’ Senate filibuster of the gun safety bill, FRC’s Tony Perkins claimed that tragedies like Newtown and Boston — as well as the shooting at its headquarters last summer — are the result of “sexual liberalism” and the lack of Christian influence on society:

    In the aftermath of horrible tragedies like Newtown, the government desperately wants to do something–even if that something is the wrong thing. There seems to be this notion, at least among liberals, that more laws will protect us–but as we all witnessed in Boston, that isn’t necessarily the case. The government can’t make us safer until it recognizes that the problem isn’t the instruments of violence–but the environment of it.
    Stronger background checks wouldn’t have prevented the deaths of three people at the finish line on Monday, any more than it would have stopped Floyd Corkins from walking into our lobby and shooting Leo Johnson.

    If Congress wants to stop these tragedies, then it has to address the government’s own hostility to the institution of the family and organizations that can address the real problem: the human heart. As I’ve said before, America doesn’t need gun control, it needs self-control. And a Congress that actively discourages it–through abortion, family breakdown, sexual liberalism, or religious hostility–is only compounding the problem.

    Of course, some will say–and I agree–that transforming the culture is the church’s job. But that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a place at the table for Christians in the gun debate. Not only did Jesus tolerate weapons, he instructed His disciples to buy them! In Luke 22:36, we read, “He said to them… if you don’t have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one.” Jesus did rebuke Peter for being too quick on the draw (John 18:11), recognizing that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal-but spiritual.

    Perkins’ endorsement of weapons and retaliation seems to be doing much more to contribute to an environment of violence than same-sex couples raising families or women making decisions about their own bodies.

  11. Update on Arkansas State Rep. Nate Bell:

    Bite Me
    By Charles P. Pierce

    Go put on a pair of shoes and fry me up some squirrel, Gomer.
    “I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine?”

    Far be it from me to suggest that any of my fellow residents of the Commonwealth (God save it!) might want to discuss Representative Bell’s insights with him, but here’s his official contact page. Be polite. Be nice. Tell him that God loves him as he loves all mouthy hicks.

    UPDATE (1:49 p.m.) — Bell released an apology for his previous tweet:

    “I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning. As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis. In hindsight, given the ongoing tragedy that is still unfolding, I regret the poor choice of timing. Please know that my thoughts and prayers were with the people of Boston overnight and will continue as they recover from this tragedy.”

  12. Elaine,

    You could have just posted hat…. Lol….maybe you can do a thread on it….

  13. “I was just pointing up that our founders didn’t protect the individual rights of ALL people who lived in this country. Our founders may have been brilliant, learned men–but they were not perfect. They were flawed people like the rest of us. To them–not all men were created equal…and they certainly didn’t consider women to be equal to men.”

    Tu quoque


  14. Blouise,

    I think the only problem I have with Heller is finding myself actually thanking Scalia for making an argument that was long overdue.

    However, I find the liberal imagination quite fascinating. Apparently, good intentions is all one needs to pass laws. You say federalism might get in the way of Obamacare? Don’t worry about it; we don’t need it any more anyway.

    You want to treat the right to KBA as mere privilege, just ignore the 2nd Amendment. It’s outdated anyway. Seriously, who needs guns when we’re all part of the collective?

  15. Bron,

    “It should be pointed out that slaves were prevented from owning firearms long before our Constitution was written or even thought about except in very abstract terms. They were prevented from doing so because of fear of a slave uprising on the part of the masters.”

    I knew that. I thought you’d understand that mine was a rhetorical question.


    “no one is debating the evils of slavery here, there isnt any debate. That slavery was part of our founding was indeed a birth defect and it was taken care of with a bloody civil war. But slavery in no way diminishes the principles which are contained in those documents.”

    You had written the following:
    “But since our founding documents are based on the protection of individual rights and our founders did not believe we are subservient chattel, it makes sense they would have thought owning weapons was a natural right and therefore protected.”

    I was just pointing up that our founders didn’t protect the individual rights of ALL people who lived in this country. Our founders may have been brilliant, learned men–but they were not perfect. They were flawed people like the rest of us. To them–not all men were created equal…and they certainly didn’t consider women to be equal to men.

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