The Connecticut Massacre

There is information still coming to light about this awful case. Early reports, such as the name of the shooter and the alleged murder of the father, were predictably wrong. It turns out that the shooter, named Adam Lanza, a 20 year old with a history of odd behavior and some evidence of mental illness, such as autism, was living with his mother who was his first victim. There are a number of suggestive reports, that she decided to “stay home to care for” her 20 year old son.

The treatment of severe mental illness in this country has been altered for the worse by a movement that began in the 1960s when mental illness began to be described as a “civil rights ” issue. Several books and movies described abuse of power in commitment of the mentally ill. The first such movie was “The Snake Pit” in which a young woman is committed for what sounds like schizophrenia. The treatment of the time (1948) can be seen as barbaric but there was nothing else available. She did recover, although we know that without adequate treatment, recovery from schizophrenia is unlikely.

The movie that really devastated the mental hospital system was called “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and starred Jack Nicholson.

The movie was powerful in showing the Nicholson character as a guy who just is “different” and harmless.

The film was the second to win all five major Academy Awards (Best Picture, Actor in Lead Role, Actress in Lead Role, Director, and Screenplay) following It Happened One Night in 1934, an accomplishment not repeated until 1991 by The Silence of the Lambs.

In 1963 Oregon, Randle Patrick “Mac” McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a recidivist anti-authoritarian criminal serving a short sentence on a prison farm for statutory rape of a 15-year-old girl, is transferred to a mental institution for evaluation. Although he does not show any overt signs of mental illness, he hopes to avoid hard labor and serve the rest of his sentence in a more relaxed hospital environment.
McMurphy’s ward is run by steely, unyielding Nurse Mildred Ratched (Louise Fletcher), who employs subtle humiliation, unpleasant medical treatments and a mind-numbing daily routine to suppress the patients. McMurphy finds that they are more fearful of Ratched than they are focused on becoming functional in the outside world. McMurphy establishes himself immediately as the leader; his fellow patients include Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif), a nervous, stuttering young man; Charlie Cheswick (Sydney Lassick), a man disposed to childish fits of temper; Martini (Danny DeVito), who is delusional; Dale Harding (William Redfield), a high-strung, well-educated paranoid; Max Taber (Christopher Lloyd), who is belligerent and profane; Jim Sefelt (William Duell); and “Chief” Bromden (Will Sampson), a silent American Indian believed to be deaf and mute.

Here is the picture of mental illness as a matter of civil rights. It was shown in 1975 when the deinstitutionalizing was already well along and it convinced the public, few of whom know anything of psychology, that mental hospitals should be closed. State governors, like Ronald Reagan in California, were only too happy to oblige. This is why I was not a Reagan fan before he was elected in 1980.

The new drugs, like Thorazine made all this possible. Patients on Thorazine made almost miraculous recoveries. at least until the side effects appeared.

The introduction of chlorpromazine into clinical use has been described as the single greatest advance in psychiatric care, dramatically improving the prognosis of patients in psychiatric hospitals worldwide[citation needed]; the availability of antipsychotic drugs curtailed indiscriminate use of electroconvulsive therapy and psychosurgery, and was one of the driving forces behind the deinstitutionalization movement.

Actually ECT or “shock therapy” was, and remains, effective for severe depression. When used on psychotics like schizophrenics, it often provided a period of a “lucid interval” that lasted for hours when the psychosis seemed to relent. The symptoms recurred but the hope of longer intervals resulted in repeated sessions. It was often depicted with convulsions and other horrendous effects but, in reality, anesthesia and muscle relaxants were used to avoid such scenes. Even insulin coma, which has a risk of damage from low blood glucose, was effective for periods when nothing else worked.

The alternative offered was outpatient centers, in California authorized by The Short-Doyle Act of 1957. There was never enough money and governors saw the closing of state hospitals as a budget issue, not a medical issue.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s counties contended that the state was not providing adequate funds for community mental health programs. In addition, several counties were receiving less funds on a population basis than other counties. This disparity was addressed, with varying levels of success, in both the 1970s and the 1980s with the allocation of “equity funds” to certain counties. Realignment enacted in 1991 has made new revenues available to local governments for mental health programs, but, according to local mental health administrators, funding has lagged behind demand.

And As a result of declining hospital population, three hospitals (Modesto, DeWitt, and Mendocino) were closed. Legislative intent was to have the budget savings from the closures go to local programs. The “money was to follow the patient.” This did not happen in 1972 and 1973 as a result of the Governor’s veto.

The patients released from state hospitals ended up living in the streets as “the homeless problem” exploded. Others filled the jails. In 2000, I was told by directors of homeless shelters in Los Angeles that 60% of the homeless were psychotic, 60% were drug addicts and half of each group was both. About 10% of the homeless are neither and are quickly moved to shelters and “SRO” hotels, especially if there are children.

What percent of shizophrenics are violent or capable of it ? A national study suggests that the number may be higher than we are usually told.

The 6-month prevalence of any violence was 19.1%, with 3.6% of participants reporting serious violent behavior. Distinct, but overlapping, sets of risk factors were associated with minor and serious violence. “Positive” psychotic symptoms, such as persecutory ideation, increased the risk of minor and serious violence, while “negative” psychotic symptoms, such as social withdrawal, lowered the risk of serious violence. Minor violence was associated with co-occurring substance abuse and interpersonal and social factors. Serious violence was associated with psychotic and depressive symptoms, childhood conduct problems, and victimization.

Since schizophrenia is life-long, usually beginning in teenage years in males and a bit later in females, the total period of exposure to the risk of violent behavior is high. Treatment with modern drugs reduces this considerably but most schizophrenics who are not under good supervision do not take their drugs.

The mother of the shooter was the registered owner of three guns, two of them pistols and one a “bushmaster” rifle. These are military lookalikes that are mostly in 5.56 NATO round calibres. They are also very expensive rifles.

He did not use the rifle anyway but what was the mother doing buying this for her autistic son? Pistols might have been for her own protection but the rifle doesn’t make sense except as evidence of enabling behavior by the mother.

The mother is now being described as a “survivalist” and used to target shooting. That does not explain why she had guns around her psychotic son. “Autism” does not develop during teenage years. It is a phenomenon that is recognized in infancy. The term may have been used by the older brother as it is a less “disreputable” term for schizophrenia. If this represents a form of denial by the family, it may be significant.

I will add to this post as more information comes out. This looks to me like an incident of mass violence by a schizophrenic 20 year-old male with possible assistance by his mother in allowing him access to guns. Her assistance would be in the form of enabling, not active assistance.

The gun control talk is totally useless. It will not affect the risk of similar events as re-examination of the deinstitutionalization of the severely mentally ill might do.

I should add that, in my opinion, psychiatry has been its own worst enemy since about 1920. The adoption of Freud’s theories by psychiatry in the 1920s and 30s was disastrous for the mental health field. Freud himself said that his methods did not work but they were educational in learning what didn’t work.

In the early part of the 20th century, “the fever cure” was used in the treatment of psychosis after success was found in cases of advanced syphilis with psychosis. Alas, syphilis was the only infectious cause of psychosis we know of. Even so, there are recent reports of success. There has been increasing interest in the possible role of Toxoplasmosis, a very common parasite, in schizophrenia.

The team from the University of Leeds’ Faculty of Biological Sciences has shown that the parasite may play a role in the development of these disorders by affecting the production of dopamine — the chemical that relays messages in the brain controlling aspects of movement, cognition and behaviour.

Toxoplasmosis, which is transmitted via cat faeces (found on unwashed vegetables) and raw or undercooked infected meat, is relatively common, with 10-20% of the UK population and 22% of the US population estimated to carry the parasite as cysts. Most people with the parasite are healthy, but for those who are immune-suppressed — and particularly for pregnant women — there are significant health risks that can occasionally be fatal.

Dopamine plays a role in schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The side effects of thorazine and other anti-psychotic drugs are due to dopamine deficiency and are similar to Parkinson’s Disease which is a dopamine deficiency condition.

Autism is a fertile ground for research and a week ago I suggested to a student who is interested in pediatric neurology that she think about autism as a topic. I think it may well be successfully treated during her professional career. Schizophrenia is more complex.

Psychoanalysis is interesting and may represent some of the process of thinking, but it is not an explanation of serious mental illness and has no use in therapy. The actions by analytic therapists have brought the field into disrepute. The “recovered memory” phenomenon was a similar blind end for the psychology profession. Psychologists have often resented the role of psychiatry in being able to prescribe drugs and benefit from insurance payments.

The appearance of insurance coverage for psychiatric care has not been an unalloyed benefit for the profession. It has resulted in many questionable diagnoses and fads in treatment such as ADHD and medicalization of some simple behavior patterns. For example, Nick Kristoff of the NY Times, no conservative, has a column about the abuse of SSI in Kentucky for children.

THIS is what poverty sometimes looks like in America: parents here in Appalachian hill country pulling their children out of literacy classes. Moms and dads fear that if kids learn to read, they are less likely to qualify for a monthly check for having an intellectual disability.

Many people in hillside mobile homes here are poor and desperate, and a $698 monthly check per child from the Supplemental Security Income program goes a long way — and those checks continue until the child turns 18.

“The kids get taken out of the program because the parents are going to lose the check,” said Billie Oaks, who runs a literacy program here in Breathitt County, a poor part of Kentucky. “It’s heartbreaking.”

This is painful for a liberal to admit, but conservatives have a point when they suggest that America’s safety net can sometimes entangle people in a soul-crushing dependency. Our poverty programs do rescue many people, but other times they backfire.

This is what medicalization of behavior can do.

The recovered memory fad was quickly ended when a psychologist and a hospital in Orange County lost a lawsuit filed by a father who had been accused of abuse. Once the suit was lost, psychologists could not get malpractice insurance for this therapy. The diagnosis vanished.

Psychotic patients have not been as lucky as innocent fathers. They are still suffering because of the Freudian delusions of psychiatry before the 1980s.

UPDATE: The medical examiner gave a press conference and said the victims were shot with a rifle. The early reports said the rifle was still in the shooter’s car. This will have to be clarified. The .223 round is a high velocity round and causes terrible wounds.

31 thoughts on “The Connecticut Massacre”

  1. The question remains – who decides that someone is a danger and ought to be confined. It’s not an easy answer, really, although it seems that from the little that has actually credibly leaked out about the Connecticut shooter that he was a very odd person indeed. Not that there is anything against odd, you understand – but Gerald Loughner (the Gabby Giffords shooter)was so far off plumb that he scared the heck out of a lot of people that he came into casual contact with. And the theater shooter (whose name escapes me) was also descending into a very frightening and dangerous state. So who gets to decide when to call out the nice men with white coats and butterfly nets to remove a percieved danger from the public? Darned if I know – but the theme running through the last mass shooting incidents is not so much gun posession but untrammeled craziness and a willingness to go out in a blaze of news coverage and blood.

    My parents lived two streets over from a neighborhood nut-case in the 1970s-80s. This person never did cut loose with heavy arms and obliterate half the neighborhood – but no one who lived nearby would’t have been the least surprised if he had.

  2. “My parents lived two streets over from a neighborhood nut-case in the 1970s-80s. This person never did cut loose with heavy arms and obliterate half the neighborhood – but no one who lived nearby would’t have been the least surprised if he had.”

    My lady friend knew a guy in high school in Orange County who was a bit odd but everybody attributed the oddness to his weird mother. He later became a house painter and painted a lot of doctor’s houses in the community.

    About ten years ago, a young girl disappeared on her way home from a concert. Her car was found with emergency lights flashing on the freeway in Irvine, not far away. Her parents put up billboards but she was not found. Several years later, this same guy ran an ad in an Arizona paper for paint for sale.

    The guy’s name was John Famalaro and the paint he had for sale was at his parents’ home. The potential buyers found it odd that a large U-Haul truck was parked in the driveway with an extension cord running to the parents’ home. The buyers thought the truck must be stolen since it seemed to be there permanently. They called the cops who followed the cord into the truck body and found a freezer. In the freezer, was Denise Huber, the girl who was missing. She had been frozen and kept as a trophy by Famalaro for three years.

    He wasn’t psychotic but odd people are worth keeping an eye on. By the way, his brother is in prison for child abuse.

  3. Tyouth, the first rule of Media, way before you get to issues of bias, is to worry if they can even get the facts straight. The Media, at large, is a clown car with a sober and serious paint-job.

  4. There have been several incidents over the years of early adult onset schizophrenia, and every single time the family, if they survived the final breakdown, has told all of us that the system for dealing with mentally disturbed people is broken and unworkable.

    And each time this scenario plays out, the same activists who defend the collapse of the mental health treatment system into nothing more than magical wishes, drugs that aren’t taken, and powerless families who watch their loved ones spiral into psychosis, start chanting the gun control mantra in order to distract everyone from the obvious fact that mentally ill adults are nearly immune from confinement and treatment unless they first commit a serious crime.

    As long as we allow every fool who claims to be a selfless activist, and every lawyer with an axe to grind and money to make, make the rules, we will see this same tragic scene played over and over again.

    My suggestion has been the same for many years—anyone who fights against mental commitment as a potential method of controlling dangerous mental illness should be assigned the selfless joy of providing a home for one or more mentally ill people with their own family and loved ones.

    Let’s see some of that selfless activism at work…

  5. The question remains: how to protect our schools and the kids in the schools from mass murderers. The last four massacres were done by people labeled by the press as ‘mentally ill’. They all were liberals, registered democrats, who favored gun control, and gave money to Obama.

    The best way to protect school children is not to ban guns. This guarantees that only felons and the mentally ill will have guns. Connecticut has the toughest gun laws in the country but these laws failed utterly. The school was a gun free zone. The school had very tough procedures to prevent mass murderers from entering the schools.

    The only solution is to close all the schools, fire all the teachers, and let the children take classes over the internet. No longer will there be targets with 100s of small kids in one place. Even if classes were held inside a police station inside a military base, the school would still be a target. Remember one of the massacres was a major on a military base.

    Of course, if we close down all the schools, small groups of children might still get together to play, study and learn under the watchful eye of heavily armed non-union Israeli style teachers. Parents can arrange this privately on their own.

    If the schools are closed and the kids are educated over the internet the kids will get a better education. The best teachers will be hired by private schools. School taxes will be eliminated. Everyone wins except the mentally ill killers.

  6. Groups of students here and across town want to be able to bring guns to class. Most of the faculty is opposed. Throw into the mix the fact that my friend down the hall is not only stable but a sharp shooter and that the counselors tell us there are several severely deranged people on campus (I had someone who was clearly disturbed this semester – I’d guess Asperger’s – but never one I feared). Surely, an armed secter of the faculty/staff and armed campus police seems a sensible (even minimal) first step. (There’s no tenure here, so really strange behavior of faculty/staff is not much tolerated.)

    No answer is simple but while my heart goes out to the schizophrenics I’ve known (and several have been in academia and are quite bright when they are on their meds), I can’t imagine living with them. But some were “parked” in mental hospitals in earlier decades.

    I’m thankful someone as thoughtful – and with historical perspective – as Kennedy is guiding us through this history – but it isn’t an easy or pleasant one.

  7. Interesting article, Dr Kennedy.

    Something I have often wondered – besides all of these people who would have been institutionalized on the streets – is the undocumented side effects of some of these drugs. When it is becoming knowledge that some anti depressant drugs foster thoughts of suicide – combined with this army on the streets – it is no surprise that we have what we have.

    I too was wondering about the mother – there was some mass shooting some years ago (15-20?) in OR or WA where the parents enabled through their easily-accessed gun collection their psychology unbalanced child to violence. Can’t remember the incident – there seem to be so many of them these days.

    I agree too on so much of the psychological profession – I think it could be rightfully called a “pseudo-science – and I think too the profession is far too exuberant in prescribing drugs (with their side effects) than actual psychoanalysis. This assertion of course does not include such problems as schizophrenia .

  8. I do not like putting people in prison/hospital because they behave abnormally. In Minnesota Stillwater is the name of the most famous ‘asylum’. People were sent to Stillwater for political reasons in the 30s, 40s and 50s.

    I think we should only put people in jail for crimes they commit, not for crimes they might commit. My religion says people can change. Some religions say they are born evil and can’t change. My opposition is religious/irrational.

    Put differently. We are a nation descended from immigrants. Imigrants are people crazy enough to leave the safety of an existing life so that they can find a new life in a new land that will probably be hostile to them.

    However, if we decide to put people in asylums for having crazy, dangerous ideas, lets start with the White House and the TSA.

  9. “Imigrants are people crazy enough to leave the safety of an existing life so that they can find a new life in a new land that will probably be hostile to them.”

    Most immigrants did not leave a sense of safety for a crazy leap into a hostile unknown, but rather left an untenable poverty for the promise of a glittering ideal. Not crazy at all.

    But I do agree with your general sense of the asylums of the past. They needed to be blown up. As Kennedy mentions, the potential of non-institutionalized care was never realized because the (conservative) politicians refused to allow the funding to follow the patient, but rather realized that the money could be saved for the taxpayers by simply dumping the patients on the street and washing ones hands of the matter.

  10. I agree that on the mental health front there is a lot to be done but there is also a lot to be done on the gun front. The actual structure of civilian firearms ownership is that sane, sober, law abiding civilians will self-select and carry arms for the benefit of us all in the unorganized militia.

    The unorganized militia didn’t work in Connecticut. Why didn’t it work? Were there legal barriers that kept it from working? Was the shooting done in a gun free zone? Has the concept of firearms ownership been culturally beaten out of Connecticut residents so bad that the percent of gun carriers has dropped below a critical level there? Was it just the luck of the draw?

    I welcome calls for a real conversation on firearms. We are badly in need of one. I suspect it is not one that Michael Moore and his allies will be very comfortable with.

  11. TMLutas, the Oregon shooting was stopped by a passerby who ignored the “no guns ” sign and had his own. He pulled it out in sight of the gunman but did not fire, fearing to hit innocents behind him. When the shooter saw another gun, he killed himself. The link is above at 10:16

  12. There’s a big difference between people acting oddly and someone like the son of sam, or maybe this connecticut guy, who are hearing voices and commands from their neighbor’s dog telling them to kill people.

    I am a radical individualist, but when someone’s loving family comes to a hospital in tears saying their adult child is talking about demons and killing people and various delusional, violent things, it might be better to have some methodology available to detain and evaluate the person for potential violence rather than just blow everyone off with a prescription and a “good luck with that”.

    This is a serious issue, and demands more than knee-jerk political responses, although I understand that’s all some trolls here can muster.

    I have family scattered all over the country, and would just as soon not hear about some of them being slaughtered because it was just too ishy to actually consider doing anything serious and proactive about mentally ill people who desperately need help, especially when their families are often every bit as desperate for someone to help them through these attacks.

    The are dozens of people dead over the past several years who were killed by mentally ill people who could not be touched under the current rules because of feckless activists and “compassion snobs” who think their pet causes are more important than anything else in the world.

  13. Mike_K – I would say that it is poor public policy to depend on people violating the law with regards to guns in order to save people from mass murder.

    Veryretired – I hope that you aren’t putting me in that category. I’m just not qualified to delve deeply on the mental health front. I just know that it is quite easy to twist mental health to political ends and would urge sufficient safeguards to avoid soviet style psychiatry. There are a lot of people in the US who would seize on that in order to make political incarcerations.

  14. Veryretired,

    I agree with you that this is a serious issue that needs more than knee-jerk political responses. Unfortunately, that is all that you manage to muster, especially in your last sentence. You revert to a tired accusation against “activists” while you ignore the fact that the overwhelming reason why our care for the mentally ill in this country has stagnated at a very low level for a long time now is that there has been constant opposition to spending any real money on addressing the problem.

    No doubt the “activists” have probably come up with a lot of bad ideas over the years, but that is how things go in the real world. We don’t know the answer to the problem, so we need to engage in an extended period of trial and error in order to hone in on the best suite of policies to care for the sick, to protect society, and to uphold our values, hopefully all at the same time.

    But this takes a commitment to 1) acknowledging the existence of the problem, 2) accepting the responsibility of the government to play a significant role in finding the solution 3) spending the money necessary to research and experiment with solutions until the best ones are found, understanding that some of that money will be “wasted” on ideas that do not turn out as well as imagined.

    The conservatives in this country have never been willing to do any of these three steps, for this problem, and for many others. The attitude is to keep taxes as low as possible – as a first principle – for the government to do as little as possible – to agree to expend collective resources only when a problem is so blatant and overwhelming that it cannot be ignored. The mentally ill homeless population can be ignored, and so they are.

  15. Money on programs buys the results those who grant the money want. If it doesn’t, future grants are less forthcoming and other studies are instituted. Let states experiment; let the government observe. If we want an example, let’s look at the academy’s awards to Belliselles until even they admitted he lied.

    I used to be for gun control (that was the culture in which I swam and I’m not an original thinker); the experiments of gun-free zones, the gun control policies of places like Washington, D.C. and Illinois (yes, I’ll grant Virginia is close to Washington, but other countries border ours) has convinced me that such controls don’t work (as reading this and other blogs like it have slowly made me see constitutional issues in a different way). And if anything would sour me on gun control it would be Fast & Furious, which seemed implemented to make an argument for gun control, the 300+ Mexicans and smaller but vital number of Americans that died be damned. We can see what an administration either incompetent or manipulative with complete control over force is not good.

    On the other hand, surely Kennedy brings the longest and closest perspective – and he sees any solution as difficult. Institutionalization has its flaws, but forcing parent to either imprison their children or leave them free to roam the streets is not a useful model.

  16. “Let states experiment; let the government observe.”

    States are run by governments.

    “..if anything would sour me on gun control it would be Fast & Furious”

    How does that work? Prosecutors try to use guns as a means to track up a drug cartel hierarchy, and they screw up by losing track of the guns, and this has implications on how you think about gun control???

    And you really think that without those specific guns the drug cartels would have been unarmed, and those people who died would not have died? Seriously?

  17. Joe—don’t bother trying to engage me in any conversation. You have no credibility with me, and this is the only occasion I will respond to your blather in any way.

    You are a dem talking point hack and nothing more.

  18. The best system I have seen in action was the one George Harrington set up at Sawtelle VA in 1961. That was very early in the story of the drugs. The only ones were had were thorazine and stelazine. They had the Parkinson’s type side effects but these could be treated with drugs that were used for Parkinson’s disease.

    Harrington had a step-wise program on the ward which held 200 men. The patient was allowed to assist man who ran the floor polisher by holding the cord. When he had treatment conferences, everybody, including the floor polishers were included. They were all part of the team. The patient might be on the more restrictive second floor where they were not allowed outdoors. Their chores went from the floor polisher to cleaning water faucets and other trivial chores. If they did this well, they were allowed to move to the next small . Eventually, they were allowed to go to the PX for candy and cigarettes. If all that was handled well, they were allowed passes for a weekend with a half-way house or family.

    If they showed anxiety or misbehavior, they would be returned to step one. Then they would be allowed to start again but move up faster if they did well. This was probably the most important part of the therapy. They learned that if they felt bad they had immediate relief available by simply messing up some small task. It was not necessary to go crazy.

    Eventually, he got most of the ward out in board and care facilities with trained caretakers who knew when to call the hospital for help. Before him some of these men had been there since World War II.

    He was one of one or two of the greatest men I ever met in medicine. One of his residents wrote a book based on his ideas. At one time in the late 60s an 70s it was recommended reading for LA school teachers. THose days are long gone.

  19. TMLutas,

    I agree that gun-free zones are generally bad policy. However, the intervenor in Oregon was not violating any law by carrying his concealed pistol in a mall posted “No Firearms”. These signs have no force of law in OR (nor do they here in WA, either.) The only thing the carrier was guilty of was rudeness in not respecting the mall owners’ wishes. If they had discovered his carrying and asked him to leave and if he refused or returned later armed, then he could be charged with a crime, but that crime would be “trespassing” and not “carrying in a prohibited place”.

  20. Grey Eagle,

    Connecticut has the toughest gun laws in the country…

    This kind of statement really hurts your credibility. While this is a matter of opinion, not strictly fact, I would so no person who was actually acquainted with the general shape of state firearms laws would make such a claim.

    We can argue whether IL, NJ, or MA are worst, or maybe some others, but really CT is not in the running for this “award”.

  21. Joe Citizen – It is somewhat concerning that you conflate the state with its servants, the government as if they are the same. This is a distinction that should matter to any patriot regardless of party. Here, sir, the people are not mere subjects of the government.

    Fast & Furious violated a significant number of basic law enforcement principles that had been good sense and effective in keeping the innocent body count down. Again, the law enforcement activity associated with Fast & Furious is not a partisan issue for those who are not in the tank hacks. If the Federal government is this incompetent at following basic rules, how can we have confidence that they can be trusted to control guns justly and properly?

    Kirk Parker – Courting a class A misdemeanor is (164.265 criminal trespass while in posession of a firearm) that carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and $6250 in fines seems to be force of law to me. That it’s difficult to prosecute should not encourage CCW holders to take a cavalier attitude towards them. Ignoring firearms laws when they do not suit is something we should discourage. It sets up a dynamic that is not good public policy. The cure is to restrict their use socially with laws that make it clear that discrimination against businesses who post such signs shall have a safe harbor in state law.

  22. TML,

    “It is somewhat concerning that you conflate the state with its servants, the government”

    How did I do that? I said, “the states are run by governments”. I think that makes it rather clear that they are two different things. Maybe you have a little trouble with the reading comprehension thing? Ginny said that states should experiment with ways to treat mental health. I agree. I made an explicit mention of the process of trial and error that needs to be followed. But she then also added that “government should observe”. Which makes no sense. Because when states experiment (with governmental policy options), it is the state governments that are doing the experimenting. That was my (rather obvious) point, sir.

    “Again, the law enforcement activity associated with Fast & Furious is not a partisan issue for those who are not in the tank hacks.”

    Well, I would agree. I would just point out that for the last 3 years the activities associated with F&F have been made a partisan issue by the legions of in-the-tank hacks on the right.

    “If the Federal government is this incompetent at following basic rules,”

    Utter nonsense. It was not “the federal government” writ large. It was a bunch of prosecutors on the front lines of what is essentially a war with large, murderous criminal organizations. They tried a tactic to get the goods on some of the higher-ups, and it failed. Thats what happens when you go out into the real world and try to accomplish difficult tasks in dangerous and uncertain conditions. We should certainly do an evaluation of what went wrong, as I am sure they have done, but that should be the end of it.

    “how can we have confidence that they can be trusted to control guns justly and properly?”

    I don’t think that prosecutors in the drug wars would be the ones to run the gun control regime, whatever form that might take.

  23. Bill: You’re probably thinking of Kip Kinkle in 1998:

    Kipland Philip “Kip” Kinkel (born August 30, 1982) is an American spree killer. In May 1998, at the age of 15, he murdered his parents and engaged in a school shooting at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon that left two students dead and 25 others wounded.[1] He is serving a 111-year sentence, without the possibility of parole.

    I can’t find the piece, but Vin Suprynowicz, writing about it years ago in the LVRJ, noted that the boy who tackled Kinkel and ended his spree did so BECAUSE of his familiarity with firearms. He heard the gun make the tell-tale “click” it made when out of ammo, so he knew he had a brief moment to tackle him before he could re-load or switch weapons. Thanks to his quick action, it’s likely more were not injured or killed.

    This piece, claiming to transcript a CNN interview with the family, has the family claiming that one reason their son did not panic was, again, the fact that he wasn’t a stranger to firearms.

  24. TM,

    You misunderstand–ORS 164.265 only applies in the “after” part of the scenario I describe.

    No one who merely enters a place open the the public has “enter[ed] or remain[ed] unlawfully in or upon premises”. That’s why the prior specific revocation of the person’s welcome to be in the place generally-open-to-the-public is required before he’s guilty of a criminal offense.

    And of course I mean to contrast this to the situation with, e.g., Texas where Texas Penal Code Section 30.06 gives signs (of a proper size and shape) the legal weight of prior notice.

    Not that I want to have a big argument about this. I certainly agree it’s not an ideal situation; just pointing out that for those of us in some states it’s not quite as bad as presented. The annals of are full of accounts of WA folks (and maybe OR too, I don’t routinely read that section) being asked to leave anti-gun establishments w/o ever being charged with any crime.

  25. Joe Citizen – How do you do it? By implication. The distinction was made between the states and the government. You replied that the states are run by government. If you would care to share an interpretation of those words that preserves some reasonable reason to utter them at all without conflating the state and its servants, the government, then you should share it. You haven’t yet.

    Kirk Parker – We agree that simply carrying did not violate the law. What I was trying to get at (and really should have checked better before I submitted) was that ignoring such signs are deeply imprudent (as Erik Scott’s family could tell you) and encouraging or expecting such imprudence is unwise with regards to anything touching on firearms. I was probably unclear.

  26. TM,

    Good point about Eric Scott. You definitely have to know your location situation; Las Vegas police have a very bad reputation, whereas Seattle (despite the federal interference and a few nasty outliers like the guy who was just acquitted) has a very good reputation regarding both concealed and open carry.

    Or remember how the Police Chief of Milwaukee responded after the WI Supreme Court ruled that some means of carry was constitutionally required? At least that evil man was open about his intent to flout the law of the state, so reasonable citizens could take warning.

  27. “You replied that the states are run by government. If you would care to share an interpretation of those words that preserves some reasonable reason to utter them at all without conflating the state and its servants, the government, then you should share it.”

    Every state has a government, TM. It is the institution made up of our representatives who write the laws, and the executive we elect to enforce them. These laws, and their enforcement, define how public policy is carried out in the state. That is what we native English speakers mean when we say that the states are run by government. Of course the government is elected by the people and works to carry out the people’s will, or is supposed to. And of course the government runs only those governmental functions. Most of us kinda think that is obvious. Do you actually have some kind of a point here?

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