When Can We Deny Gun Rights to Mentally Ill?

This is a discussion on When Can We Deny Gun Rights to Mentally Ill? within the General Firearm Discussion forums, part of the Related Topics category; Originally Posted by Hopyard Bingo. Frustrated yes. Angry, yes. Impulsive, yes. Foolish, yes. Mentally ill? Not so clear at all. Actually, reading through the article ...

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  1. #16
    Member Array merischino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Bingo. Frustrated yes. Angry, yes. Impulsive, yes. Foolish, yes. Mentally ill? Not so clear at all.
    Actually, reading through the article about Jason and his experience, I see that he meets the requirements for being clinically depressed according to the DSM IV (The diagnostic manual for determining mental health diagnoses) because he has more than 4 symptoms of depression which he agrees have had a duration of longer than 2 weeks. So, classing him as mentally ill during the period of stress (one month) is not inaccurate.

    The question I would put to the forum, though, is whether or not a person who is having a single-episode experience of depression, who is responding to medications and making changes etc in their lives etc... is someone who by virtue of the diagnosis going to be forever, or 5 years, classed as unworthy of the right to defend themselves.

    I think that disallowing felons from using firearms should be a given. I also think that disallowing the chronically, perennially mentally ill, those that do not experience periods of wellness whether or not they ever are admitted involuntarily to a hospital, should be disallowed from having firearms. Concomittant with that disallowance, however, they should ALWAYS have at the cost of the government a higher level of security since they cannot by law protect themselves. What happens here, though, is that these folks live in project poverty housing or worse are homeless, and often are among the most physically attacked of the populace, being easy targets.

    Then there are folks who are diagnosed as mentally ill, but either never get admitted to a hospital at all (voluntarily or not), and being such a person has access to firearms whether or not they should. There are likely many teen (or other age group) suicides which would fall into this category. Whether or not they have access to a firearm likely plays little role if any in whether or not they pursue their goal.

    Then, there are folks who perhaps episodically get admitted to hospitals, but only could be considered to be of any risk to themselves or others during the actual period of admission. Release from the hospital is the stipulated absence of ongoing risky symptoms due to a new medication regime. Where should these folks lie, in the RKBA spectrum?
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  3. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by merischino View Post
    Actually, I believe you are mistaken. The Baker Act is only one of multiple ways to keep someone against their will. A person could walk or drive themselves to a facility, be interviewed by the intake team, and sign themselves willingly into the facility for an undefined period of time (not nec. 72 hours as mentioned earlier in this thread. 72 hours is the minimum if it was an involuntary admission from the start). Once inside, the staff can basically do whatever they want to administer any kind of care they want. If the voluntarily admitted patient has an issue with any single act or selection of the staff, the patient can with the flick of a pen be transformed from a voluntary patient into an involuntary one, which appears to me to take place without the involvement of the Baker Act.

    Then, a patient may (if they are together enough and informed enough, and able to communicate effectively enough, which is all a factor of what medications and treatments they are or are not getting at the time of the request) they can request a grievance form and begin filing written documents against the treatment they are getting.

    I'm interested in what exactly are the state by state differences in treatments of this issue. In the big picture, it seems that when big scary multiple-death shootouts take place (VA Tech, Columbine, Etc.) the integral part of each story is how the shooter had some sort of mental health issue which was known and for which they took medications. Here's my question: does that mean that, necessarily and/or by definition, everyone in this country who suffers from any sort of mental health issue should not have the right to defend themselves, or perhaps better said should not enjoy the benefits of the 2nd Amendment?

    There are literally millions and millions of folks who suffer from depression and take medications for it. There is an admittedly not small subset of those that do have suicidal tendencies. But, others, the majority, do not. I think that the issue of whether or not 2nd Amendment Rights should be revoked at all should happen in front of a judge with the presence of the patient/petitioner and at least one staff member in addition to the doctor. That's not what happens now, though.
    Excellent post. I'd just add that I am conflicted on whether or not it is any one's business, including the state, if someone wishes to harm themselves. I'm not advocating that anyone should do that, but there are certainly circumstances in which suicide is not irrational; and in some societies it has been seen as a noble act of honor. I'm not so sure the law should intervene unless the intention to harm is directed towards others.

  4. #18
    Member Array merischino's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hopyard View Post
    Excellent post. I'd just add that I am conflicted on whether or not it is any one's business, including the state, if someone wishes to harm themselves. I'm not advocating that anyone should do that, but there are certainly circumstances in which suicide is not irrational; and in some societies it has been seen as a noble act of honor. I'm not so sure the law should intervene unless the intention to harm is directed towards others.
    Thank you. Personally, I think the "likely to do harm to themselves or others" phrase is too broad, vague, and basically unhelpful. A person can be committed under this phrase if they are a bit spacey and their eyesight is bad so they might start crossing the crosswalk before the light actually changes. Technically, this person is a danger to themselves. Mr. Magoo, welcome to the ward. So, if Mr. Magoo actually is indeed suffering from an illness and requires medication management for his DSM IV qualified illness, seeking a hospital stay to get that done voluntarily, will need to actually convince the admitting staff that a Hospital Stay is required... regular monthly or quarterly doctor visits won't cut it, is just plain going to have to say SOMETHING that means "I am a danger to myself or others" in order to get admitted. Whether or not Mr. Magoo is called "voluntary" depends on, once he's convinced a team he needs to be in, he is willing to roll over on every single order that comes after that.

    If he has experience with a medication which was truly excruciatingly bad for him but is not recorded or accessible in the database the ward uses, his options are to a) refuse the medication and be transformed into an involuntary patient, and then take the medication or b) accept the medication and go through with the excruciatingly bad experience, again, or c) transform himself into a Truly Well and Not Needing Hospitalization At All person, communicate effectively and without seeming at all (medically needing hospital attention) with issues, render an eloquent soliloquoy on how paperwork takes time and if you don't have this paperwork yet, please do go request it from the following x number of facilities where he's had this experience already.

    This is hopefully a transitional thing going on in our healthcare system and once all of the transitions nationally from legacy paperwork systems to computerized databases where staff have UPS-like handhelds for all their documenting, where having a medical history in the building for a patient doesn't mean a pile hip-high in some dusty corner in a basement someone, if they really wanted to, could spend a few days getting up to speed on a single patient.

    But the legal implications of being Labeled as Mentally Ill, I think need seriously to be looked at. The intent of the law in limiting RKBA to the lawful (no felons) and the sane (no mentally ill) I think could really use some deep, penetrative thought on how to actually, practically, limit firearms from being in the hands of those who TRULY Are a DANGER to society, including themselves. The VA Tech and Columbine and other high-profile shooter situations, the Beltway Sniper.... we need to be profiling these folks and studying their lives and applying some sort of decision matrix to the rest of society as a whole, not just taking a US Populace of roughly 300 million households and saying there.s 3.2 people in each household, which makes n human beings. Some percent of people in the US are Clinically Depressed. That diagnosis makes them ineligible to defend themselves. Some percent of people are ADHD, which is a DSM IV mental health spectrum illness. Ixnay on the Unsgay for these folks as well. Tom Cruise, this means you. (Should we now be worried about how seriously vocal Tom is on being anti-psychiatry anything?).

    Using the "Baker Act" as a method of securing a group of people from whom to remove the right to bear arms is... an interesting choice but probably begs a lot of questions, since so many high profile shooters were not Baker Acted and therefore were eligible to hold weapons.

    Also, the question of why only firearms?

    To your post, Hopyard, I think that you have a good point. I think another point to add is that whether or not the person WANTS to harm themselves is even part of the decision-making process. A person could not want to hurt themselves, not want to hurt anyone else, but be Likely to, or a Possible Risk For... and still get admitted unwillingly.
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    Senior Member Array Jmac00's Avatar
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    I wonder how many people are mentally ill (depressed or marginally suicidal) know it, but will not seek help because they are afraid the government will take the firearms.
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    Quote Originally Posted by merischino View Post
    Thank you. Personally, I think the "likely to do harm to themselves or others" phrase is too broad, vague, and basically unhelpful. A person can be committed under this phrase if they are a bit spacey and their eyesight is bad so they might start crossing the crosswalk before the light actually changes. Technically, this person is a danger to themselves. Mr. Magoo, welcome to the ward. So, if Mr. Magoo actually is indeed suffering from an illness and requires medication management for his DSM IV qualified illness, seeking a hospital stay to get that done voluntarily, will need to actually convince the admitting staff that a Hospital Stay is required... regular monthly or quarterly doctor visits won't cut it, is just plain going to have to say SOMETHING that means "I am a danger to myself or others" in order to get admitted. Whether or not Mr. Magoo is called "voluntary" depends on, once he's convinced a team he needs to be in, he is willing to roll over on every single order that comes after that.

    If he has experience with a medication which was truly excruciatingly bad for him but is not recorded or accessible in the database the ward uses, his options are to a) refuse the medication and be transformed into an involuntary patient, and then take the medication or b) accept the medication and go through with the excruciatingly bad experience, again, or c) transform himself into a Truly Well and Not Needing Hospitalization At All person, communicate effectively and without seeming at all (medically needing hospital attention) with issues, render an eloquent soliloquoy on how paperwork takes time and if you don't have this paperwork yet, please do go request it from the following x number of facilities where he's had this experience already.

    This is hopefully a transitional thing going on in our healthcare system and once all of the transitions nationally from legacy paperwork systems to computerized databases where staff have UPS-like handhelds for all their documenting, where having a medical history in the building for a patient doesn't mean a pile hip-high in some dusty corner in a basement someone, if they really wanted to, could spend a few days getting up to speed on a single patient.

    But the legal implications of being Labeled as Mentally Ill, I think need seriously to be looked at. The intent of the law in limiting RKBA to the lawful (no felons) and the sane (no mentally ill) I think could really use some deep, penetrative thought on how to actually, practically, limit firearms from being in the hands of those who TRULY Are a DANGER to society, including themselves. The VA Tech and Columbine and other high-profile shooter situations, the Beltway Sniper.... we need to be profiling these folks and studying their lives and applying some sort of decision matrix to the rest of society as a whole, not just taking a US Populace of roughly 300 million households and saying there.s 3.2 people in each household, which makes n human beings. Some percent of people in the US are Clinically Depressed. That diagnosis makes them ineligible to defend themselves. Some percent of people are ADHD, which is a DSM IV mental health spectrum illness. Ixnay on the Unsgay for these folks as well. Tom Cruise, this means you. (Should we now be worried about how seriously vocal Tom is on being anti-psychiatry anything?).

    Using the "Baker Act" as a method of securing a group of people from whom to remove the right to bear arms is... an interesting choice but probably begs a lot of questions, since so many high profile shooters were not Baker Acted and therefore were eligible to hold weapons.

    Also, the question of why only firearms?

    To your post, Hopyard, I think that you have a good point. I think another point to add is that whether or not the person WANTS to harm themselves is even part of the decision-making process. A person could not want to hurt themselves, not want to hurt anyone else, but be Likely to, or a Possible Risk For... and still get admitted unwillingly.
    What all of this really boils down to is the use and possible abuse of psychiatry. It also turns on validity and meaning of what is in DSM; and interpretation of same.

    The term "mental illness" is by itself a broad one to the point of meaninglessness. To illustrate with a parallel from the standard non-psychiatric world of medicine: "Sir, have you had any surgery?" Ans. No. "Sir, you haven't spoken the truth!)" Huh? "Our records show that you were treated by a periodontist 15 years ago, and 30 years ago you had a benign fatty tumor removed." Huh? Those don't count. "Sure they do. They are surgery. You lied to me, you committed perjury."

    I'm exaggerating of course, but just 'cause something is in DSM doesn't make the person with the symptom set "mentally ill."
    Not any more than failing to disclose pulled wisdom teeth would make you a liar when responding to the question, "Have you had any surgery?"

    Anyway, the truly dangerous folks are the ones who do not see their problem as a problem. Depression does not a dangerous person make. In fact, I'd argue that excessive anxiety (extremely common) is more likely to make someone use poor judgment to the point of being a danger than depression. And with all illnesses in which the symptoms can fall along a spectrum, one person's minor ailment may be someone else's serious disorder.

  7. #21
    VIP Member Array AZ Husker's Avatar
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    PTSD is a very common diagnosis for returning military (and old vets too). Should that ruin a person's chances of firearm ownership?
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Husker View Post
    PTSD is a very common diagnosis for returning military (and old vets too). Should that ruin a person's chances of firearm ownership?
    IT all depends, really. These types of disorders are all known as spectrum disorders. That means you can have the disorder with only minor symptoms or at the other extreme your very being and ability to function with any semblance of normalcy can be broken.

    The answer about fitness to own or to carry isn't to be found in the diagnosis itself, but (as always) in the actual behavior of the individual.

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    Hopyard you make a lot of good points. The law in florida prohibits a person from possessing etc firearms for 5 years after being adjudicated in a court of law to be "mentally defective". This phrase is distinct from "mentally ill"

    That seems a bit sketchy to
    me, and the 5 years seens arbitrary and meaningless.

    Not sure what there is to do about it.

    I wholeheartedly agree as will most pjsych professionals, that the presence of one or more aymptoms listed in the DSM IV soes not mean someone is mentally ill. To get a diagnosis it usually takes a lot of input combined with dirwct observance and with interviews, questionnaires and the like.

    that said, quick and dirty depression specific tools. for figuring out whether or not to worry about your loved one inxlude x #symptoms for y weeks = a clinically defined problem
    requiring assistance of a peo and likely administration of some amti depressants.

    grieving for a loved one would apply to the above but most wouls not term a widower to be mentally ill.

    These issues of diagnosis ans severity and the loss of 2a Rights are a murky mess.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jmac00 View Post
    I wonder how many people are mentally ill (depressed or marginally suicidal) know it, but will not seek help because they are afraid the government will take the firearms.
    I know a number of officers that took a certain medication ( I forget the name now) not for it's antidepressant effect but to help them quit smoking. That is their story and they are sticking to it. And some of them I had never seen with a cigarette.......
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    Quote Originally Posted by mcp1810 View Post
    I know a number of officers that took a certain medication ( I forget the name now) not for it's antidepressant effect but to help them quit smoking. That is their story and they are sticking to it. And some of them I had never seen with a cigarette.......
    ooooh lordy, that ain't good. although I suppose I should be declared mentally ill, I did get married a second time
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZ Husker View Post
    PTSD is a very common diagnosis for returning military (and old vets too). Should that ruin a person's chances of firearm ownership?
    It is my understanding that for most states, just being diagnosed with PTSD, in and of itself, isn't a disqualifier. It all depends on the severity. A lot of vets, including some of my friends, just go to some counseling or group sessions, something like that, and that is all the treatment they ever get. The only case I have seen of hospitalization was extremely bad, and mixed in with some depression and other things. Meds are sometimes prescribed, but not very often. I think it also depends on if the counselor/psychologist deems them a "hazard to themselves or others."

    And a lot of times the diagnosis is not PTSD, but some sort of adjustment, or anxiety disorder, that, with proper counseling, can get cleared up, so that they can exit the military as healthy human beings. Most of my friends undergoing treatment for these things go see a counselor for an hour every week or two, no hospitalization, no meds.

    Once again, that is only my understanding as far as how I have read the law, and from talking to my friends, and I'm not a doctor or lawyer, just an infantryman.
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    Now I remember the stuff: Bupropion. Under the name Wellbutrin it is for depression and seasonal affective disorder. Under the name Zyban it is to stop smoking.
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    You will find some that their logic wll be.... if he owns a gun , he must be "crazy". What then ?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eagleks View Post
    You will find some that their logic wll be.... if he owns a gun , he must be "crazy". What then ?
    I know a few that believe that. Am I paranoid if I am more worried about some government bureaucrat deciding that I'm crazy than I am of some meeting some crazy person? I believe that it is more likely that the government knows where to find me than it is that the crazy person will. Its also legal for me to protect myself from the one random crazy I may meet during my lifetime.

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    Question 10 years later & still banned?

    My husband experienced a terrible break-up at age 21. He was already somewhat abusing EtOH and had been under treatment for severe anxiety for 5 years (counselling & medication). His break-up caused him to do something stupid/suicidal in his mother's home. He was taken to the ER & "in-voluntarily" committed to the mental health hospital for 72 hours. He was released without comment & never heard from any legal representative. That was 10 years ago or so. He was never notified about being banned from gun ownership or concealed carry. He does still suffer from anxiety and bouts of depression, but is in a stable relationship (with me ;-) and has learned coping mechanisms for when his anxiety builds beyond the norm.

    He has since bought several guns going through the background check common here in KY. He has also applied for and received a Federal Firearms license approved by the ATF for his "hobby" of guns (his license is for the purchase & resale of "hobby guns" - those made prior to 1950 I think). We took our CCW course and he never thought of his "commitment" until he was given a denial notice. He has since turned in the requested paperwork, but their 20 days to give him a decision is long past. When he spoke to the office responsible he was given a bit of a runaround & told the legislators are trying to figure out how to change the laws and how that will affect his application.

    My comment/question is that the above scenario should never have happened. Either he's banned from gun ownership or not for his mental break over 10 years ago. If he was cleared by ATF to buy and sell guns (that still work, not just dummy guns) and if he's cleared the background check several times, why wouldn't he also be able to carry a weapon? Would anyone consider that he "lied" on his applications for his weapons and licenses when he never received notification that he should be banned?

    I agree with what others have said that "mental health" is too ambiguious to do anyone any good. Although he is my husband & I am definitely biased, I do not think someone with a history like his is any more of a risk that someone like me who has suicidal ideations caused by certain medications. However, since I've never sought treatment for those ideations (except curtailing the use of those medication) my CCW was granted to me.

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