Friday, October 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

If not Isla Vista, what can keep guns from mentally ill?

TomEliasW

By
From page A11 | July 06, 2014 |

As the round of memorial services for the six students fatally stabbed and shot in late May by the psychotic killer Elliot Rodger recedes into memory, a serious public policy question remains even while families and friends are left with their private grief:

If the Isla Vista killings can’t spur laws to keep guns away from persons diagnosed as mentally ill, what can?

It now seems likely that despite some big talk from U.S. senators immediately after Rodger’s murderous spree on the edge of the UC Santa Barbara campus, there is little chance the federal government will do much. There may be more of a possibility for action by the state Legislature, far less influenced by the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby, but even there it’s unrealistic to expect anything.

One thing is for sure: Every legal expert agrees that Rodger bought his guns legally, despite having a mental illness diagnosis. One therapist described him as pre-psychotic. On the day he decided to prove — in his own words — that he was a true “alpha male,” the prefix came off his diagnosis and he was just plain psychotic, which Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines as “having … a very serious mental illness that makes you act strangely or believe things that are not true.”

Law professors consulted after the killings said such a diagnosis does not generally affect a person’s ability to own a gun, even in California, with some of America’s toughest gun controls.

Rodger, with no criminal record, never previously having threatened anyone (except in the YouTube videos that were mostly ignored), never having been deemed a risk to himself or others and no history of addiction, raised no red flags when purchasing semiautomatic handguns.

Another certainty in this case: The fact that Rodger stabbed his first few victims demonstrates that no matter what controls are put on guns, violent people can still find ways to kill.

But there’s no reason to make it easy for them. That’s why Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut said immediately after Isla Vista that he would try to revive gun legislation that failed to pass in the aftermath of the 2012 murders of 20 schoolchildren in Newtown, Connecticut.

Blumenthal said that if Congress fails to take at least most guns from the mentally ill, it will be complicit in future shootings.

This, of course, raises many civil liberties questions: Should a person be deprived of Second Amendment rights if he or she has never threatened anyone or been deemed a threat to himself or herself? Should police have the right to search for weapons in the homes and cars of every mentally ill person, even if those persons appear to be “quiet and timid,” as Rodger was described by sheriff’s deputies who visited him shortly before his spree?

How can police determine a gun owner is mentally ill when they’re not mental health professionals? How can they tell if, like Rodger, someone has refused to take prescribed anti-psychotic medication?

Blumenthal said his legislation would allow for these questions and deploy “professionals trained in diagnosing and preventing this kind of derangement.” California’s Democratic U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein proposed also letting families ask a court to temporarily prohibit gun purchases based on a credible risk of physical harm to self and others.

All that, of course, gets stiff opposition from the gun lobby, which calls these ideas “an affront to Americans’ basic rights.”

The top priority, though, has to be preservation of human life. In the past 14 years, there have been more mass killings of the Newtown/Isla Vista/Virginia Tech sort in this country than in the rest of the world combined. The vast majority of lives taken came via shootings.

Which means something is amiss. Does that mean no person in psychotherapy should have a gun? Does it mean police should have the right to question every gun owner?

Probably not. But if mental illness is the common denominator in mass killings from the Texas Tower to Newtown, Columbine and Isla Vista, then it’s high time to make it much harder for the mentally ill to acquire firearms of any kind, no matter how carefully laws doing this must be crafted.

— Reach syndicated columnist Tom Elias at tdelias@aol.com

Comments

comments

.

News

A-Z: Downtown Davis is the place to celebrate

By Kimberly Yarris | From Page: C1

 
Courageous Thompson tapped for cycling shrine

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
UC researchers: How low-water can our landscapes go?

By Katie F. Hetrick | From Page: A1 | Gallery

Testimony begins in Winters murder trial

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Hong Kong protesters to vote on staying in streets

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Cloud business lifts Microsoft’s quarterly results

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Yoga and chanting workshop planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Downtown menu: coffee, boba tea, dessert

By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: C3

 
Can you give them a home?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Scientists work to save endangered desert mammal

By Kat Kerlin | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Host families needed for students and teachers from Mexico

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A3

Halloween Dance set Friday for teens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Day of the Dead folk art class set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Flea Market planned Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Enjoy A Taste of Capay at historic ranch

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Red-hot tunes set at Blues Harvest

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Learn how to fill a cornucopia with flowers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Video highlights Props. 1 and 2

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
‘Homeopathy at Home’ program planned

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Celebrate origami at Davis library

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Garden sale and open house features water-wise demos

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C4

Meet Poppenga at dog park Sunday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Bay Bridge art project needs $4 million to keep shining

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Weir honored, a year early

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
For a good cause

By Fred Gladdis | From Page: A6

Americans, internationals make connections

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

 
Explorit: Poison-proof your home with free lecture

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A6

Sutter auxiliary seeks volunteers

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

 
School board hopefuls discuss homework policy

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A7

Walkers welcome to join Sierra Club outings

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

The magic is long gone

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
What’s next with Ebola?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

More theories on the abstention

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Rights beget responsibilities

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Water returns to its source

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
A solution to the drought

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

Experience nature’s treasures

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Subs have other concerns

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

.

Sports

DHS footballers take on Pleasant Grove

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Bye No. 2 comes at perfect time for nicked-up UCD

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Shhh. Are Aggie women BWC’s best-kept secret?

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
Bump, set, playoffs: Blue Devil girls clinch spot in postseason

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Aggies expect a bonny meeting in Sacramento

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

 
UCD roundup: Preseason awards roll in for Aggie hoopster Hawkins

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sharks suffer from road woes

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Features

.

Arts

DMTC plans ‘My Fair Lady’

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A11

 
Czech Philharmonic Orchestra to perform

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

Calling all artists for upcoming show

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
‘St. Vincent:’ Quite a character

By Derrick Bang | From Page: A11 | Gallery

Rumpledethumps to play at Village Homes Performers’ Circle

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11 | Gallery

 
.

Business

 
Car Care: Five things to ask yourself when shopping for a new vehicle

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B7

.

Obituaries

Lewis Melvin Dudman

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Ann Foley Scheuring

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Comics: Friday, October 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B3