How could someone as “troubled” as Adam Lanza ever be allowed to buy a gun?
It turns out he wasn’t. He borrowed his mother’s guns. In his case gun control laws worked... except that they didn't.
Today, the loudest voices in the media are proclaiming that we can stop the senseless violence by banning guns. In particular, by banning assault weapons.
The fault, we are told, lies in the gun laws and especially with the National Rifle Association. In certain precincts the NRA is being held culpable for America’s gun violence.
Of course, the attack is part of a cultural assault on Republicans. If we could show that more liberal souls bore some responsibility for the gun violence, no one would pay attention.
When a politician rails against the NRA he has an issue that will keep on giving. There is no real way to ban guns, even to ban assault weapons.
Charles Cooke explains that trying to ban guns would be another Prohibition, and we know how that worked out. The War on Drugs, he offers, has not worked out very well either.
There are at least two hundred million privately owned guns in America, and Connecticut regulates access to them more strictly than most. To believe that yesterday’s crime could have been prevented, you have to presume either that a man willing to go to such grievous lengths could have been deterred from doing so by stronger laws, or that those stronger laws could rid America of privately available guns completely — thus making the killer’s task an impossible one. I believe neither thing. To pass a law is not to achieve its aims, and one suspects that any attempt at gun control in America — which outlaws and the deranged will naturally ignore — would be destined to be filed next to Prohibition and the War on Drugs in the annals of man’s folly.
This morning, in a pungent irony, Rahm Emanuel, the mayor of America’s gun violence capital, Chicago, declared that we need tougher gun control laws.
When your city is out of control, why not shift the blame to the NRA. It’s certainly better than admitting that you are not doing your job.
Chicago has some of the nation’s toughest gun control laws. If they haven’t worked there, why would they work anywhere else?
The sad fact is that most of the gun violence is not committed by psychotic loners like Adam Lanza. It is committed by gang members in America’s cities. Often, it is part of an ongoing criminal enterprise. Strict gun control laws do not deter criminals from getting all the guns they want. .
But, if we can’t get the guns off the street, why not get the dangerous psychotics off the street?
We debated the question in the aftermath of the Aurora,Colorado massacre, and it is worth bringing up again.
By all accounts, Adam Lanza had always been “troubled.” Everyone knew it. His mother was not working because she felt a need to stay at home with her “troubled” son.
Adam Lanza was twenty years old and could not be left home without adult supervision.
We have been told that Lanza was suffering from Asperger’s syndrome, a form of high functioning autism. Yet, Asperger’s has never been associated with an increased threat of violence.
We have also been told that Lanza suffered from obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD has no real association with the threat of violence.
And then, we have learned that he had a developmental disorder, whatever that means.
Finally, we have heard that Lanza was on some kind of medication. More details, hopefully, to follow.
I have seen more than a few psychiatrists and psychologists on television explaining that Lanza should have been in treatment. It appears that he had consulted with a psychiatrist, and had received treatment. Either the psychiatrist made a mistake in diagnosing him or had offered the wrong treatment. Then again, outside of a mental health facility what guarantee do you have that a patient would be taking his medication.
We do not know whether Lanza was a psychotic or a psychopath. James Holmes seems to have been the first. Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold seem to have been the latter.
One suspects that Lanza suffered from a psychosis. Most people, upon encountering a psychopath, do not see him as “troubled,” or as so completely out of control that he cannot be left home alone.
Why was Adam Lanza walking the streets? Why had he not been hospitalized? Perhaps the answer lies in our policies about mental health.
Civil liberties attorneys have made it nearly impossible to commit people to psychiatric institutions against their will. Wouldn’t it be better to treat such patients against their will than to wait for them to commit crimes and then put them in prison?
Hospitalizing such people would serve them by offering treatment and would serve society by getting them off the streets.
Thanks to civil liberties activists, you cannot do it.
Clayton Cramer explained:
Unsurprisingly, emptying out the mental hospitals and making it difficult to hospitalize people with serious mental illness problems meant that society as a whole became a bit more like a low-grade mental hospital. Supporters of gun control argue that we need stricter laws because ordinary, law-abiding people just “snap” and go on rampages. There are people who indeed snap and go on rampages (and not just with guns) — but they are seldom ordinary. Often, they are people with long histories of mental illness who in 1960 would have been hospitalized before they killed someone. Gun control is in some respects an attempt to make all of America into a low-grade mental institution, where we don’t trust people with deadly weapons.
For those of you under 40 — it used to be startling indeed to see people begging in the streets or obviously insane in public. Homelessness and various forms of urban degradation were byproducts of deinstitutionalization. A more ominous result: murder rates rose in response to this emptying out of the hospitals, and the poor solution was to increase the number of mentally ill murderers we sent to prison.
Cramer has a longer essay here.
Somehow or other, in our national zeal to condemn the NRA we refuse to hold the civil liberties lobby accountable for the consequences of its de-institutionalization program.
We have been induced to believe that the NRA is the Devil while the ACLU is doing God’s work.