Archive for the ‘#mentalillness’ Tag

Father Gave the Guns Back   Leave a comment

I’m Brad, still filling in for Lela who is in training for her job.

 

A few days ago, a mentally disturbed man killed several people in a waffle restaurant in Tennessee. The cops had taken his weapons away from him previously because he was deemed to be dangerous. That law is already on the books … that if you’ve been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and have done something that makes a judge, through a due process system, consider you to be a danger to others, that you aren’t allowed to own or possess a gun.

That’s actually a law that the NRA fought for and that most Republicans agree with. If you’re likely to become homicidal at a greater rate than sane people, you shouldn’t be allowed a gun.

And the system worked. The guns were taken away from the dangerous individual. But the guns were the private property of the owner. They didn’t belong to the cops and keeping them would be theft. So, they were turned over to the ill man’s father who was told that his son was not allowed to possess guns.

So what happened? Jeffrey Reinking took possession of the guns and, even knowing his son was sick and might be dangerous, he returned them to him.

Why? I don’t know. That was a stupid and illegal thing to do. But President Trump didn’t do it. The NRA didn’t do it. The millions of American’s who make up the “gun culture” of the country didn’t do it. The Republicans didn’t do it. Our Founding Fathers who acknowledged and protected our pre-existing right to self-defense didn’t do it.

But you wouldn’t know that from the news media accounts and pundit jabber.

About 20-odd years ago, a mentally-ill man here in Fairbanks took a hammer and killed three of his roommates while they slept.

The other day, a distraught person rented a Ryder van and ran down a few dozen pedestrians in Toronto.

Do we want to ban hammers? They’re a really useful tool if you need to drive a nail into a board. My job would be a lot more difficult without them. Maybe we should just keep the hammers away from the schizophrenics.

Do we want to ban vans? Moving households would become a lot more complicated. Maybe the rental agent could have paused and asked the patron if he really ought to be driving while distraught.

But, the leftists now scream we need to ban guns, ignoring the facts.

 

The Founders acknowledged a pre-existing right to self-protection against government tyranny and they embodied that recognition in the Second Amendment. Our government is much more tyrannical than it was in 1789, so the reasons for the Second Amendment have not changed.

The cops are always minutes away when seconds count … or hours away, sometimes. The world isn’t a safe place and the statistics show Americans use guns for self-defense pretty often. Should we just let all those people be victimized, including being killed. Should being a law-abiding citizen carry the death penalty?

Some of us are hunters and, believe it or not, the AR-15 is a pretty decent hunting rifle for deer. We don’t have deer in Interior Alaska, so I don’t own one, but I know lots of people who do and they use them regularly for caribou and other game smaller than a moose.

Some of us are hikers and hikers in Alaska encounter bears fairly regularly. I was charged by one a few years ago. It was my first and only up-close-and-personal encounter with a bear. I had to hold it off with a chainsaw. As of that afternoon, I thought carry a gun in the woods was an excellent idea. I know dozens of people with similar encounters – I know three men who have been mauled by bears. Susan Butcher the legendary musher once had to shoot a moose during the Iditarod because it was killing her team. There’s all kind of things in the woods that want to eat people and a gun helps to even the odds of survival.

It’s already against the law to kill people, no matter what the means. Mentally-ill people don’t care and they’ll figure out other ways to do it, but there is a system in place to remove guns from dangerous individuals. It worked … right up until Jeffrey Reinking decided to break the law.

No one is responsible for the killings at the Waffle House except the shooter. He shouldn’t have been given the means to do that. But who gave him the means? His father.
So, when will the father be charged as an accessory in four counts of murder?
Provide a strong statement that there are consequences for giving guns to dangerous individuals who have had them removed through a due process system and people like Mr. Reinking will not give guns back to their dangerous offspring.
There’s a whole lot more going on in this country that is driving these mass shootings. They won’t be fixed by violating the natural rights of people to defend themselves because the problem is being caused a lot deeper issues than the availability of a tool. Maybe when we can stop screaming about that, we can have a real conversations about some of those issues.

Posted April 26, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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Ordinary Citizen Gets Death Penalty   1 comment

This is Brad. Lela is gone on a business trip this week, so while she’s going to check in on social media when she has down times, she asked me to post to her blog. Well … I asked if I could and she didn’t change the password. Thanks to Keirnan for knowing how to post photos, hyperlinks and hash-tags.

 

Jamal JacksonSo this is a “what might have happened” article. I’m often the source for those anyway, just so you know, because I read these articles and ask myself “What might have happened if …?” and then I debate them with Lela.

In Ventura County, California, a homeless man stabbed a family guy with a kid on his lap, fatally killing him. Now, of course, in the very armed state of Alaska, we ask “What if someone had been appropriately armed … could they have prevented this?” Maybe … maybe not. I, who support the full exercise of our right to self-protection, believe that it would have been a benefit if someone in that restaurant had been armed with something more than a steak knife. My sister, the anti-gun nut, believes such an armed citizen would simply have shot the kid on the victim’s lap (because only cops know how to shoot straight). We’ll never know because it never happened. Nobody in the steakhouse was armed except the murderer.

Ah, but … people had earlier called someone my sister would agree was fully qualified to carry a gun. Three hours before the stabbing, people in the area had contacted police to report a disruption from a homeless man who later would become a murderer. Instead of sending a cop out to assess the situation and perhaps takes this clearly ill man to a mental health center, police watched him on traffic camera footage and determined that he was “harmless”. They then left this danger to disarmed humanity in the neighborhood where he could kill someone.

So, yeah, Anthonoy Mele might still be alive if he or another patron had been armed and able to stop this attack before the knife entered his neck … or if the police had just done their jobs.

I’m not a fan of police just driving around looking for crime. I think they create crime when they do that. They harass people who might be minding their own business in a way cops think is unsocial. As a former urban parkour athlete, I resented police behavior in rousting people who weren’t following the unwritten rules cops seem to impose on society.

I think cops ought to be treated a lot like firemen who stay at the station until they are called out to a fire. I’m not anti-cop. I wouldn’t do away with all police. I’d just make them stay at the station and study the Constitution until they’re needed. In my perfect world, when a disturbance is reported, the cops show up to investigate and deal with the situation if it needs dealing with. What was Jackson shouting when he was causing the disturbances? We don’t know. But it might have been useful if the police had engaged him and learned that perhaps he had fixated on something that might have led him to kill a stranger in a steakhouse. But they didn’t. Instead, they let a man get killed and left the capture of this bad guy to a group of patrons who chased him to a beach.

I also don’t have anything against the homeless or the mentally ill. I spent some time as a young man homeless myself, so I have great compassion for people who experience that. Because Lela used to work in the field, we often have mentally ill people who know her come up and talk with us. Most of them are nice people who are just a little weird. I’m also a magnet for weird people. If there’s a schizophrenic person at LAX airport while I’m waiting for a flight, they will walk five concourses to come find me and tell me all about their delusions. We don’t know why that is, but it’s pattern in our travels. So I’m not railing against homeless people or the mentally ill. My issue is the cops not showing up to deal with it before someone died and with all the people who insist that disarming people will somehow make the world a safer place. Nobody had a gun in that steakhouse and a man still died. Obviously, being disarmed didn’t make Anthony Mele one bit safer.

One last thing I noticed is that the dangerous homeless guy has more right to life than the family man enjoying an afternoon with his family. If found guilty, Jamal Jackson will get up to 55 years of three hots and a cot. He could get less and this being oh-so-permissive California, he’s likely to do far less than he is sentenced to. In a decade, they might be hailing him as a success in mental health treatment — at least until he goes off his meds and kills somebody else. But Anthony Mele got the death penalty for … what? … eating at steakhouse and not having the means to defend himself. It really seems as though ordinary citizens have far less rights than criminals.

How is that a just society where the “rights” of the mentally ill to be dangerous and homicidal are protected but the actual rights of ordinary citizens to be able to protect themselves while having a meal with their family aren’t?

Posted April 23, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Government, Uncategorized

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Simplistic Thinking about Mass Shootings Re-Dux   Leave a comment

I wrote this right after the South Carolina church shooting a couple of years ago and then couldn’t find it after the Texas church shooting a couple of months ago. So I decided, having found it today, that I should run it again. Except for the occupant in the White House, not much has changed.

 

Perhaps it is human nature to blame something other than ourselves for the events we see in the world. The South Carolina church shooting shows that tendency in full view.

  • Guns caused the shooting. Their very existence demands that they be used for the mass killing of folks.

Do we really believe that? Certainly our president and some pundits say they believe that, but isn’t that the equivalent of saying “the devil made me do it?” I’ve been around guns my whole life. It’s stupid to go into the woods where there are bears, wolves and moose without a firearm. I shot a 22 when I was 7. I first handled my mom’s 357 when I was in junior high right after three soon-to-be rapists tried to break into our house and Mom (all 95 pounds of her) scared them away.

My guns have never whispered to me that I should go out and shoot up a church, a movie theater, a shopping center. Guns are inanimate objects. If there’s any whispering going on, it’s coming from the mind of the shooter, not the guns. Guns are simply a tool for keeping users safe. Make them illegal and it leaves law-abiding citizens at the mercy of law-breakers, because law-breakers won’t be obeying the gun laws.

  • Racism caused the shooting.

There may be some validity to this argument in the case of this particular church. It was a historically black church and the shooter seems to have had some racist beliefs. He was also high on drugs and may have been mentally ill. So is that racism or mental illness or some other problem not yet identified. The shooter spent an hour in that church during Bible study before he opened fire. If it were my church, I’d be asking “What happened during that hour that escalated rather than de-escalated his violence?” Maybe it was nothing. Maybe he was just bent on killing people and it took him an hour to get the courage, but … as I said, if it were MY church …. Is it possible they weren’t very welcoming to the weird white guy in their haven for the dark-skinned? If you think that’s a racist question, note the number of fingers pointing back at yourself before you pop off.

  • Mental illness caused the shooting. Lock up all mentally ill or make it illegal for them to have guns and all will be better.

I worked in the mental health field for 15 years. I’ve met some mentally ill people who would mow down a church group because the voices in their heads told them to do it. Not the gun, not racism — mental illness. But I’ve also met mentally ill folks who would never hurt anyone (except maybe themselves) and others who stay on their meds because they don’t want to ever hurt anyone else. Delusional disorders are not all the same and it’s wrong to treat some folks like criminals because they are ill.

  • Churches are at fault.

I actually heard this from an atheist neighbor this weekend. If churches weren’t these monolithic structures that judge people, he said, they wouldn’t become targets for crazy people. Do away with all churches and people would be free to love one another and violence would be reduced immeasurably. Wow, you just can’t make that up.

All of those simple causes are probably partially at fault. Churches ought to be more welcoming to those who are odd. Yes, that puts them more at risk. Jesus never said being His followers would be safe. There is a lovely man who occasionally comes through our church. We call him John the Baptist and I can’t say his real name because I signed agreements years ago. He is a Christian who is also bat-crazy with schizophrenia. Often when you talk to him, it’s like reading Alice in Wonderland on acid, but he also cuts right to the truth of the gospel in a way that sane people rarely do. He knows his Bible and his application is spot on. And (some people find this creepy), he seems to know things about you that he shouldn’t know, but he uses that knowledge to help the Christians he meets. I wonder if he’s not talking to angels, who are the demons who chose to obey God. Yeah, I worked in the mental health field for 15 years and I believe in demons. That’s another topic. Churches should be more welcoming to people who are not stereotypically “church” people.

Mental illness is a tough nut to crack. Europe and other nations handle it by doing what we used to do — locking folks up and forcing them to take their meds. There is a growing movement in this country by mental health advocates to never force anyone to take medication against their will. Did you know that? Yeah! So maybe there’s more to these mass shootings than just undiagnosed mental illness. But maybe in a country that prides itself on individual liberty, we really don’t have a right to force others to be medicated against their will. There are some folks who think we should treat mental illness like a crime. I don’t, but I also acknowledge that some people won’t stay on their meds and they aren’t John the Baptist motivated by God’s spirit to share the gospel. Some of them are scary scary people and we need to have a discussion about what to do with that. Currently, if you call for help because you think someone might be developing schizophrenia and about to harm someone, you have to show that they really are an imminent risk to themselves or others. In essence, they have to mow down a church group before the police will act.

Notice that I’m sitting on the fence with this because I’m an individualist who has experience with both good people who are mentally ill and scary people who are mentally ill. I’m not sure what the answer is here and I suspect there is no “good” solution.

Racism is a swinging door. The first time I ever saw racism directed at me was not because I’m an American Indian and white folks don’t like Indians. It was a black man who had decided I was white and he didn’t want me in his shop. Racism doesn’t have a color. A traditionally ethnic church of any stripe might think its meeting separately because that’s how white folks want it, but in reality, in this day and age, they are meeting separately because they feel most comfortable with that. Guaranteed, if a group of any ethnicity showed up at 90% of traditionally white churches, nobody would turn them away and most might not even notice the color of your skin. Racism and reverse racism are not excuses for mowing down a church group, but it is certainly something churches need to consider. And, not just churches. Society as a whole exhibits this problem. When you’re pointing a finger at someone else as a racist, pay attention to how many fingers are pointing back at you.

Guns do not kill anyone by themselves. They are simply a tool. If we didn’t have guns, mentally ill people and racists would find other ways to kill people. Knives, gasoline bombs, cars, baseball bats, bow-and-arrow, hammers …. As a small woman, I’m not going to go mana a mana with a man swinging a baseball bat or wielding a knife. With a gun, I become his equal and therefore, equally able to protect myself and those around me. If you disarm me, you relegate me to the role of victim, leading to my death.

I know we don’t want to hear this. We want simple causes and simple solutions, but we don’t have those and until we accept that the issues are more complicated than we want to believe, we can’t hope to solve the problems.

Posted January 3, 2018 by aurorawatcherak in Gun control

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