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Letters to the Editor

Protect students

February 22, 2008

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To the editor:

I believe we should ask our legislators to pass a bill to do background checks not only for criminals but for mental patients who want to buy guns.

Students at Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois University were killed by students who had a history of mental illness and both bought guns and ammo before the deaths. So why sell guns to mental patients?

Mary Ann Kieffer

Lawrence

Comments

Taco_Freaker 6 years, 1 month ago

Stand by to stand by Ain't no need to worry today Thorazine shuffle make everything OK I know how you feel You say you need your highs and lows But what if you could take your pain And just let it go

Step right back and watch me now I'll show you how it's done Stay right here with me now Till the damage is done And the damage is done

Time drags by When you're boring Don't care what you do care what you say There comes a time When you got to let the monster inside you Let him come on out, come on out and play

Step right back and watch me now I'll show you how it's done Stay right here with me now Till the damage is done

Step right back and watch me now I'll show you how it's done Stay right here with me now Till the damage is done And the damage is done

Stand by to stand by Ain't no need to worry today Thorazine shuffle make everything OK

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Jim Phillips 6 years, 1 month ago

"Which guns do legislators want to take away? I've never heard any such thing that legislators want to forbid all guns. That may have come from the NRA PAC.

Are some people making things up?" ---Merrill

I would invite you to review your world history historyu to see how many times it has been done. This includes, more recently, England and Australia. As someone earlier posted, "Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it." The proof against your comment has been shown many, many times.

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Jim Phillips 6 years, 1 month ago

"Trying to apply a Constitution that was written over 200 years ago, before the industrial revolution, in a world very different from the one we live in, is a difficult task."---jafs

Jafs, you are soooo right about that. I have been converted. So, from now on, you no longer have the right to speak your mind because the Founding Fathers had no vision people roday would be questioning their motives. You no longer have the right to worship as you please because the Founding Father had no way of knowing how hated organized religion and God is today. You no longer have the right to counsel or a speedy and fair trial because the Founding Fathers had no idea how screwed up our legal system is today. You no longer have the right to be secure in your own home or the right to be protected from illegal search and seizure because our Founding Fathers had no concept of easily people would give up their rights!

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Jim Phillips 6 years, 1 month ago

"I'm not crazy about people with serious mental conditions running around with guns: but then: I'm not crazy about a lot of so called "mentally stable" people running around with guns: the claim of "I need to protect myself" could be an indication of paranoia:" ---STUCKINTHEMIDDLE Perhaps your denial of the desire/need/right for one to protect himself could indicate your head is buried in the sand.

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sundancewierdo 6 years, 1 month ago

mary- do you really think that's going to keep people who really want a gun from getting them? we should treat the mentally ill like a felons? so if you've been in a mental facility, can you still vote? i guess i don't get it. you see i thought that maybe the problem was that the media turns these shootings into such a circus that it's almost a sure way to make people pay attention. if they wanted to die and make someone else feel guilty about it, what happened to a good old fashioned suicide note? is it really necessary to take everyone with you. geez what's wrong with kids today? oh right, nobody paid attention.

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americorps 6 years, 1 month ago

right_thinker (Anonymous) says: anti-gunners are politically motivated. What if these two psychos had walked into a crowded cafeteria with a couple pipe bombs in a backpack? They could have possibly quadrupled the body count and wounded that many more again:


and that is your argument in favor of selling guns to the mentally ill?

You are simply a disgusting human being.

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notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

Agnostick (Anonymous) says:

"Prohibiting gun sales to the mentally-unstable is relatively easy to do, if one just shuts out the yammering rhetoric from the extremists: and takes a moment or two to think about the issue."

"Prohibiting" and "preventing" are two different things. "Prohibiting" is pretty much pointless if it isn't "preventing" the sales, and the latter is a little more difficult. Actually, it's impossible to do.

You'd have to do four things (at least):

1) Completely give up the confidentiality of medical records. Not all "unstable" people end up in psychiatric facilities, and it's not just records from psychiatric professionals you'd need; GPs prescribe a lot of psychotropics. Do you want it to be part of a general database that you were put on Ritalin as a child, or that you were prescribed Trazodone or Restoril, both antidepressants, as a sleep aid, or Welbutrin, another antidepressant, to quit smoking?

2) Come up with a definitive standard for what constitutes "unstable." Two of the most common and generally considered most mild of mental disorders, adjustment disorder and bereavement, can both include symptoms of major depression, including suicidality. As I mentioned above, more than half the population is diagnosable with a mental disorder.

3) Come up with a way to screen for mental disorders in the general population. As I also mentioned above, just as only criminals who have been caught and convicted are excluded from having guns, only the mentally ill who have already done something outrageous enough to warrant intervention would be in any database. (Nobody knew David Berkowitz was "mentally unstable," did they?)

4) Again, similar to convicted felons, you'd have to find a way to stop the mentally ill from obtaining guns from alternate sources - gun shows, private sales, getting them on the street, etc. (As someone else pointed out above, the kid who shot up the mall in Nebraska used guns belonging to a family member.)

Unless you think there's a foolproof way to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, you'd better be willing to accept the fact that it's equally impossible to keep them out of the hands of the mentally ill.

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uncleandyt 6 years, 1 month ago

Right-wing talk radio is not huge. Look it up.

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Agnostick 6 years, 1 month ago

http://www.usconstitution.net/consttop_2nd.html#amend

Prohibiting gun sales to the mentally-unstable is relatively easy to do, if one just shuts out the yammering rhetoric from the extremists... and takes a moment or two to think about the issue.

Agnostick agnostick@excite.com http://www.uscentrist.org http://www.americanplan.org

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Flap Doodle 6 years, 1 month ago

"Which guns do legislators want to take away? " Remember the "Assault Weapons" ban in the 90's? Get ready for the sequel. Stock up while you can.

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notajayhawk 6 years, 1 month ago

As someone above mentioned, where do you draw the line? Suppose a mother sees her child die in a fire and becomes so despondent that, even if not actively suicidal, she stops eating or otherwise taking care of herself. This is grounds for commitment. Does she lose her rights?

What about a college student that stays up for five nights cramming for exams and starts experiencing the psychotic symptoms associated with sleep deprivation, and is subsequently committed for evaluation?

How about someone who talks to their pastoral counselor about having impure thoughts?

Two pertinent facts:

1) According to research, more than half the people in the country can be diagnosed with one of the almost 400 disorders in the DSM - and the number of disorders is supposed to increase to around 600 in the upcoming edition. Do we deny gun ownership to people who were once diagnosed with Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder, or anyone who ever suffered from bereavement?

2) Something that a lot of people forget: Not all criminals are prevented from owning guns - only the ones who have been caught and convicted are. The same applies, and always will apply, to the mentally ill. It will always be possible to have people whose first exposure to the mental health system was after they stabbed their children to death or shot several of their co-workers.

There will always be people who shouldn't have guns that we don't know shouldn't have them until it's too late. Just as we'll never know many people have gotten too old or too limited in eye-sight to drive until they kill someone in a car accident. If you want to make sure people who shouldn't have guns due to mental illness don't get them, you're going to have to get rid of all the guns in the world.

Good luck with that.

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Richard Heckler 6 years, 1 month ago

Which guns do legislators want to take away? I've never heard any such thing that legislators want to forbid all guns. That may have come from the NRA PAC.

Are some people making things up?

Actually parents might have prevented some incidents if they were paying attention to their children but the letter writer has a point. She said nothing about taking guns away across the board.

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Confrontation 6 years, 1 month ago

Anyone who has ever been committed to a mental health facility, whether on their own or by someone else, should never own a gun.

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spywell 6 years, 1 month ago

This falls at the doorstep of Doctor/Patient privacy. Until Congress re-addresses this area of dispute the nuts will continue to buy guns. Nuts Mostly, for the very reason and uses of killing people will continue to buy guns.

There has to be a data base so that the fed can check who's under treatment for what and using specific drugs for their condition. This list will be difficult to obtain and it would force Doctors to comply with the list mandates.

The very notion of such a list would cause many mental patients to not seek help for their illness, for fear of having to surrender their firearms upon treatment.

There has to be a better way of managing this issue. If handled at the state level, this would only spell trouble, if the patient went to another state and established residency.

The idea of such a list would cause many Doctors to abandon the treatment of many for fear of federal scrutiny in compliance with any federal mandates.

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guesswho 6 years, 1 month ago

Reminds me of the SImpsons episode when Homer tried to buy a gun and was told there was a 3-day waiting period and he yells at the clerk:

BUT I'M ANGRY NOW!!!!!!!!

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

"Why is it that you fear trusting law-abiding citizens with the right to carry firearms?"


Methinks you didn't read his experience with gun sales....

I've got a question for you: why is it that you (and so many other pro-gun people) assume "law-abiding" is this magical label that proves a person is responsible enough to own a lethal weapon?

The NIU shooter was a "law-abiding" citizen until he went on his rampage.

Same can be said for the Va Tech shooter.

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Marion Lynn 6 years, 1 month ago

RedwoodCoast (Anonymous) wrote:

"I've always felt that gun-toters are either rural folks or wanna-be heroes. I've thought about purchasing a firearm, but I have no intention or even desire to go "protecting myself and the public" with it. I say the more people out there carrying guns, the higher the chances are of those guns being abused."

Marion writes:

Try thinking instead of feeling and you will find in the history of CCW in the USA very, very few abuses and even fewer problems.

Why is it that you fear trusting law-abiding citizens with the right to carry firearms?

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1029 6 years, 1 month ago

For several years, while attending KU, I had the entertaining privilege of selling guns and ammo at Walmart. I would say that only about one out of every ten to fifteen customers was all there mentally. Gun owners tend to be very defensive when it comes to their right to buy a gun with little government intrusion. Several customers underwent wild mood shifts when their background check was delayed or when they were asked for their social security number in order to purchase a hunting license. Furthermore, all one has to do is write a simple "no" next to the question about having ever have been treated for a mental health issue. The whole background check was a joke; it was just a simple phone call that lasted less than a minute. In four years, I only saw maybe three or four people actually be 'denied'. If anything, the sale would be 'delayed' for unknown reasons, at which point the customer would return several times a day over the next week or so to check on the status before presumably giving up and buying from Cabela's or some other store that had a policy of switching 'delayed' to 'approved' after a set amount of days had elapsed. On more than one occasion, the LPD would come in and start asking questions about one of the gun sales we did (usually the $89 shotgun to someone who had recently turned 18). There really wasn't much we could do as far as denying a sale, unless someone was obviously drunk, which happened a couple of times.

There were many customers that seemed like friendly, normal people but sadly they were a severely outnumbered minority.

The gun lobby is very powerful and well-funded. No matter how many people have the mental capacity to realize that something needs to change in regards to how our society views guns, no major changes will occur anytime soon.

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RedwoodCoast 6 years, 1 month ago

I've always felt that gun-toters are either rural folks or wanna-be heroes. I've thought about purchasing a firearm, but I have no intention or even desire to go "protecting myself and the public" with it. I say the more people out there carrying guns, the higher the chances are of those guns being abused.

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LogicMan 6 years, 1 month ago

"Trying to apply a Constitution that was written over 200 years ago, ... in a world very different from the one we live in"

Hmmm ... egos, threatening/invading/suppressing armies, conflicting ideas and ideals, religious and cultural differences, limited resources, ...

Doesn't seem that different to me.

"Those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it."

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estespark 6 years, 1 month ago

What about the kid in Omaha who shot up the department store? He didn't buy a gun, he busted open his stepfather's gun cabinet and took it. Should parents/relatives of mental patients not be allowed to own firearms?

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jafs 6 years, 1 month ago

Pro-gunners are politically motivated.

Trying to apply a Constitution that was written over 200 years ago, before the industrial revolution, in a world very different from the one we live in, is a difficult task.

It is clear to me that many who carry guns today do so for reasons vastly different from the ideas of our founding fathers expressed in the second amendment.

What to do about this is another question, but I think something should be done.

As far as the "pipe bombs in a backpack" argument, that could apply to anyone - why not allow criminals to buy guns?

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 1 month ago

Anti-gunners are politically motivated. What if these two psychos had walked into a crowded cafeteria with a couple pipe bombs in a backpack? They could have possibly quadrupled the body count and wounded that many more again.....so the gun thing is a seriously lame argument.

It's just one more thing the left hates the right having. Now the left has been having a hissy fit because right-wing talk radio is a huge success. What is wrong with the left, anyway? I still say it's Mr. Fred Rogers fault. "You're special".

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logicsound04 6 years, 1 month ago

" I would suggest you go do your research before sending in a politically motivated letter to the LJW."


Research?

She correctly pointed out that both of the two most recent school shootings in the United States had a common theme: pepetrators with histories of mental illness using legally-purchased guns to kill fellow citizens.

Sound like YOU are the one with the political agenda who can't seem to take relevant facts into account...

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75x55 6 years, 1 month ago

Curious fact - tasers are legal to carry in 43 states....

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Ragingbear 6 years, 1 month ago

Being that so many see psychiatrist and therapist, that would violate the second amendment. And idiots like yourself Anne. I would suggest you go do your research before sending in a politically motivated letter to the LJW. Especially if you don't want the comments section to eat you alive and sell your bones to nomads to make into jewelry.

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stuckinthemiddle 6 years, 1 month ago

hmmm... at what level or type of "mental illness" should someone be denied gun ownership? would we deny anyone who has ever been prescribed medication for depression? what about folks diagnosed with ADD or other like conditions? and, of course... there would still be no way of denying all the non-medicated undiagnosed...

and, besides: the 2nd amendment doesn't say "except for those people who have sought help for depression or anxiety"

I'm not crazy about people with serious mental conditions running around with guns... but then... I'm not crazy about a lot of so called "mentally stable" people running around with guns... the claim of "I need to protect myself" could be an indication of paranoia...

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Tom Shewmon 6 years, 1 month ago

It does appear it's the guns themselves our prestigious leftists politicians are truly concerned with--as in taking them away. One has to wonder if their anti-gun agenda reaches any deeper or farther than that.

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jumpin_catfish 6 years, 1 month ago

HIPPA baby that's why. welcome to big brother, it closes one door only to find they left a window open and if they close every door everyone is a prisoner and I don't like that idea.

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LogicMan 6 years, 1 month ago

"So why sell guns to mental patients?"

Because the "instant background check" was defeated in congress by the left years ago. It would have made it easy to identify people who shouldn't buy guns or other weapons.

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KS 6 years, 1 month ago

Mary Ann, because somebody decided that all health infomration is private. Can't let somebody feel bad, you know!

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