America Doesn’t Need Gun Control, It Needs Lunatic Control

Here are some excerpts from a compelling piece written just this year. Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder (hat tip I Own the World.)

For those of us who came of age in the 1970s, one of the most shocking aspects of the last three decades was the rise of mass public shootings: people who went into public places and murdered complete strangers. Such crimes had taken place before, such as the Texas Tower murders by Charles Whitman in 1966,1 but their rarity meant that they were shocking.

Something changed in the 1980s: these senseless mass murders started to happen with increasing frequency. People were shocked when James Huberty killed twenty-one strangers in a McDonald’s in San Ysidro, California in 1984, and Patrick Purdy murdered five children in a Stockton, California schoolyard in 1989.

For a while, it was fashionable to blame gun availability for this dramatic increase. But guns did not become more available before or during this change. Instead, federal law and many state laws became more restrictive on purchase and possession of firearms, sometimes in response to such crimes.

Nor has the nature of the weapons available to Americans changed all that much. In 1965, Popular Science announced that Colt was selling the AR-15, a semiautomatic version of the M-16 for the civilian market.

The Browning Hi-Power, a 9mm semiautomatic pistol with a thirteen-round magazine, was offered for sale in the United States starting in 1954,  and advertised for civilians in both the U.S. and Canada at least as early as 1960.

If gun availability does not explain the increase of mass public murders, what else might?

Clayton Cramer points to deinstitutionalization.

At least half of these mass murderers (as well as many other murderers) have histories of mental illness. Many have already come to the attention of the criminal justice or mental health systems before they become headlines. In the early 1980s, there were about two million chronically mentally ill people in the United States, with 93 percent living outside mental hospitals. The largest diagnosis for the chronically mentally ill is schizophrenia, which afflicts about 1 percent of the population, or about 1.5 percent of adult Americans.

A 1999 study found that 16.2 percent of state prison inmates, 7.4 percent of federal prison inmates, and 16.3 percent of jail inmates, were mentally ill. As of 2002, about 13 percent of mentally ill state prison inmates nationwide had been convicted of murder.

In the 1960s, the United States embarked on an innovative approach to caring for its mentally ill: deinstitutionalization. The intentions were quite humane: move patients from long-term commitment in state mental hospitals into community-based mental health treatment.

John Linley Frazier was one of the first such examples. Like many other schizophrenics, he first exhibited symptoms in his early 20s. Fixated on ecology, after a traffic accident he became convinced that God had given him a mission to rid the Earth of those who were altering the natural environment. Frazier’s mother and wife recognized how seriously ill he was, and tried to obtain treatment for him, but he refused it.

Patrick Purdy, a mentally ill drifter, used his Social Security Disability payments to buy guns, while having a series of run-ins with the law. After one suicide attempt in jail in 1987, a mental health evaluation concluded that he was “a danger to his health and others.” In January 1989, Purdy went onto a schoolyard in Stockton, California with an AK-47 rifle, murdered five children and wounded twenty-nine others, before taking his own life.

Federal prosecutors held back for a few days from indicting Laurie Wasserman Dann in May 1988 for a series of harassing and frightening phone calls—and in those few days, she went on a rampage, killing one child in an elementary school, wounding five children and one adult, and distributing poisoned cookies and drinks to fraternities at Northwestern University.

Buford Furrow was a member of a neo-Nazi group in Washington State. Conflicts with his wife led her to take him to a mental hospital, where he threatened suicide and “shooting people at a nearby shopping mall.” He threatened nurses with a knife. At trial, he told the judge about his mental illness problems and suicidal/homicidal fantasies. The judge refused to hospitalize Furrow, sending him to jail instead. Released within a few months, Furrow went to Los Angeles in August 1999, where he acted out the fantasy that he had earlier told the court: he shot up a Jewish community center, wounding five people, and murdering an Asian-American mail carrier nearby.

There is a long list of similar cases which point to the fact that the problem isn’t the availability of assault rifles, it’s the failure to lock up the violent mentally ill because of intervention from groups such as the ACLU.

  • Thomas Wells

    Lunatic control should start by controlling liberals. You stop malaria by draining the swamp.

    • Questions

      Maybe it's people like you who could use some counseling. Stalin talked the same way about his political opponents.

      • Thomas Wells

        You really do need to look for answers.

    • anonymouse

      Too many millions of lunatics- led by the NRA

      • Mary Sue

        no, lunatics led by Dennis deConcini (back in the day), Sarah Brady, Chucky Schumer, Barbara Boxer, DiFi (Sen. Diane Feinstein), etc.

    • kafir4life

      I think that Nancy "beads" Pelosi wanted to do that a few years ago, but what happenned was that she, Hershal Reid and Barack (Stinky) Obama were clogging the drain.

  • κατεργάζομαι

    Regarding the real murder problem(s) in America –

    REALITY CHECK: Every, single day, 1,200 black babies are put to death in abortion facilities, making abortion the leading cause of death among African Americans!

    Moreover, Chicago likes to compare itself to other world cities, so Ward Room thought it would find out how we rank in violence. — Chicago's murder rate is higher even than the Third World metropolises of Mexico City and Sao Paolo.

    Chicago's murder spree of 19.4 per 100,000 is more than three times that of New York's (6 per 100,000) and more than two and a half times of Los Angeles' (7.5 per 100,000), its closest American competitors. Caracas, Venezuela, which apparently is not an Alpha world city–thank you Hugo Chavez–has a higher murder rate of 130 per 100,000. (someone Barack would emulate if he could.)

    • Questions

      Plenty of whites are aborted, too. There is no racial "genocide" plot.

      • Mary Sue

        Margaret Sanger created Planned Parenthood specifically for the purpose of eliminating, in her own words, 'the black race'. She was the biggest eugenicist around since Hitler.

  • Mary Sue

    Hm, I wonder if Rush was reading this late last night/early this morning. Either that, or Great Minds Think Alike!

    "We don't need Gun Control we need Lunatic Control!" Word-for-word verbatim.

  • JacksonPearson

    "Lunatic control" have to start with Head Shrink and Patient analysis. Next, with whom their analysis should be shared with, followed by a determination of what steps should be taken, if any.

  • Ar'nun

    This is the elegphant in the room that Liberals want to distract us from. I have asked every Liberal since the shooting who blames easily available guns the same question; If guns are so easy to get, then how come nobody shot back?

  • tagalog

    The U.S. Supreme Court mandated, in 1975, in the Donaldson case, that a mentally ill person cannot be committed without his consent unless he/she is a danger to himself or others. This is the famous deinstitutionalization case, making it impossible under the constitution to hospitalize a mentally ill person involuntarily for observation and diagnosis unless he was dangerous.

    Notice the timing; within a decade, there was a sizeable increase in the mass shootings.

    Of course, no one can find all of the crazy people who will pick up a gun and start shooting, but getting rid of the "danger to self or others" standard would be a step in the right direction.

    In this age of balancing one set of rights against another as we now do, it might be interesting to weigh the right to freedom of a limited population of the disturbed against the Second Amendment rights of scores of millions of law-abiding Americans. Especially when involuntary hospitalization is usually short-term, for a period of less than a week. Even if nothing is done for the patient, a week's worth of time will serve to distract them and hopefully defuse them.

  • Vicki P.

    Amen! Lunatic control would also go a long way to solving the homelessness dilemma as well

  • Wolfman

    end gun violence now everyone should carry one

  • BLJ

    I still wonder how the anti-gun crowd would view this if the shooter was a Muslim. They pretty much ignored Fort Hood. This murderer had some problems no doubt.

    It does not excuse what he did nor does it have anything to do with guns. Back in the 1920's a school janitor killed 38 kids in a school by explosives. There are evil, disturbed people in this world.

    Always have been, always will be.

    • Asher

      Good point, there would be one excuse after another for why the crime was committed, including feeling like they just didn't fit in!

  • Ghostwriter

    Sadly,the latest killing spree by a lunatic will inspire more calls for gun control. I don't own one myself,but I'm not going to stop someone who wants to defend him or herself from doing so.

  • Jacob Morgan

    The deinstitutionalization movement brought forth a wave of homeless people in the 1980’s, but instead of connecting the dots and figuring out what was going on, the media blamed Reagan’s handling of the economy.

    Put the unfortunate people with paranoid, potentially violent, schizophrenia in the rubber room, or turn all of society into one big rubber room.

    There used to be an asylum in CT that housed over 3,000 people. Wound down and was abandoned in the mid-nineties. Wouldn’t the parents of mass-murderers rather visit their sons in the psych ward, instead of on death row? What about the murderers themselves, do they have lucid intervals when the discover what they did? And surely the parents of the dead would rebuild the asylums with their bare hands brick by brick to prevent this from ever happening again. The government squanders billions for nothing, but can’t pay for the asylums that used to exist in every state and outside of every major city?

    Intelligence seems to be correlated with one’s risk of going mad. Making guns harder to get is not going to stop these madmen who have the one objective in life of destroying society.

  • Diana

    If someone wants to buy a gun today, a mind test on them should be done.

    Also a check on all family members living with them. If there is any mental

    issues then a gun should not be sold to them. Most of the stories I have

    heard about killing of innocent people has been done my people with

    mental problems.

    • carrie

      IL does background psychiatric checks. You can't even get a FOID – gun owners card if you've been treated for anorexia .

      The Chicago murder rates have nothing to do with legal gun owners.
      Gangs setup gun houses – abandoned homes where they collect stolen guns for the whole gang to share. St.Louis and CA gangs use them also.

  • melvin polatnick

    Sacred symbols are often desecrated by the insane to profane the sacred. Adam Lanza desecrated two of the most sacred symbols of Catholicism by slaughtering a mother and twenty children. He also could have chosen to kill a priest, rape a nun, or fire bomb a church. His obsession stemmed from hatred of the high and mighty Lord. A cure could have been found through confession and exorcism, but the sacrilege is over and evil has triumphed.

    • southwood

      Plenty of practicing Roman Catholics have carried out murders. My understanding is that Lanza was one. But here's one for you : If a serial killer or paedophile, for example, confesses to his priest in the middle of his rampage should the priest maintain his code of silence ?

      • melvin polatnick

        The hard drive on his computer has been destroyed, but it is highly likely that Adam Lanza was suffering from guilt after being anally sodomized by a trusted friend. Adam`s shame and anger was expressed by his murderous rampage and suicide. The trusted friend should come forward and share the blame.

        • southwood

          You didn't answer my question regarding priestly silence. What are your thoughts on that ?

          • melvin polatnick

            The name of Adam`s priest has not been disclosed by the authorities. There is some foul play involved. A scandal is brewing.

  • Sussex Girl

    Nancy Lanza is going to take a huge portion of the blame, I think. She's not here to give her side of the story, granted, but a gun owner has a responsibility to limit access to the firearms he or she owns. Adam Lanza was no more able to be safe around guns than one of the six year olds that he killed Those guns needed to be locked up, the ammunition as well (and separately from the guns), and from what I've read, she clearly knew she had a mentally unstable young man on her hands.

  • Guest

    The real culprit here is NOT guns but the Meds that millions upon millions of America's children are hopped up on…all with the sanction of the AMA.

    I suspect Lanza was on a heavy cocktail of all sorts of drugs. I can only imagine what it did to his mind.

    • Phil

      You have no idea what you are writing. The problem isn't the medication; it's the insurance companies pushing doctors to give medication and withold psychotherapy. All medications are potentially dangerous—even the effecti ve drugs. For that reason they should be given with care but they are not the cause o f these murders. Most of the maniacs were NOT being properly medicated.

      • Mary Sue

        add to this the fact that many medications are handled differently by different people. It's nearly impossible to predict who will be adversely affected by any given medication.

  • Asher

    Lunatic control is a good way to word it…..Progressives allow the Lunatics more rights than the rational, law abiding, citizens..they want to take away the freedoms that we were born with.

  • joseph

    Careful ….your stating the obvious and using common sense.Well written but alas we have a society that is too lazy to be independent …..But we that are capable of appreciating the responsibility that comes with freedom will prevail,thank you for this article and I will pay close attention to this site.

  • ToolMan41

    Never seen a gun kill anyone by itself in the 47 years I've been on this earth. This shooting, and many others was caused by a lack of parenting, ie: not wanting to believe that your precious little baby would actually kill or hurt anyone, despite the signs being right in front of your face. My solution is to stop telling people that it's fine to be a single parent, stop pushing pills at our kids and start using actual discipline (anyone remember that?), get your kids back to the dinner table and into church, and STOP ignoring the fact that some kids are just freaking whacked in the head. In other words, start parenting your kids the way parents used to instead of turning that responsibility over to the schools, doctors, and the almighty television/computer.

    • Mary Sue

      I call it "head in the sand parenting".

  • Huh?

    Welp, guess I'll be in the loony bin. And hey! Considering statistics -there's a 1 in 4 chance you'll be there with me~

  • Ethan Callaway

    The title pretty much says it all. The only problem is, I doubt there are enough specialists or professionals to cover every lunatic with a gun.