The Right Opinion

Guns Don't Kill People, the Mentally Ill Do

By Ann Coulter · Jan. 17, 2013

Seung-Hui Cho, who committed the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007, had been diagnosed with severe anxiety disorder as a child and placed under treatment.

But Virginia Tech was prohibited from being told about Cho's mental health problems because of federal privacy laws.

At college, Cho engaged in behavior even more bizarre than the average college student. He stalked three women and, at one point, went totally silent, refusing to speak even to his roommates. He was involuntarily committed to a mental institution for one night and then unaccountably unleashed on the public, whereupon he proceeded to engage in the deadliest mass shooting by an individual in U.S. history.

The 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shopping mall shooter, Jared Loughner, was so obviously disturbed that if he'd stayed in Pima Community College long enough to make the yearbook, he would have been named “Most Likely to Commit Mass Murder.”

After Loughner got a tattoo, the artist, Carl Grace, remarked: “That's a weird dude. That's a Columbine candidate.”

One of Loughner's teachers, Ben McGahee, filed numerous complaints against him, hoping to have him removed from class. “When I turned my back to write on the board,” McGahee said, “I would always turn back quickly – to see if he had a gun.”

On her first day at school, student Lynda Sorensen emailed her friends about Loughner: “We do have one student in the class who was disruptive today, I'm not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go, so I talked to the teacher afterward. Hopefully he will be out of class very soon, and not come back with an automatic weapon.”

The last of several emails Sorensen sent about Loughner said: “We have a mentally unstable person in the class that scares the living cr** out of me. He is one of those whose picture you see on the news, after he has come into class with an automatic weapon. Everyone interviewed would say, Yeah, he was in my math class and he was really weird.”

That was the summer before Loughner killed six people at the Tucson shopping mall, including a federal judge and a 9 year-old girl, and critically wounded Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, among others.

Loughner also had run-ins with the law, including one charge for possessing drug paraphernalia – a lethal combination with mental illness. He was eventually asked to leave college on mental health grounds, released on the public without warning.

Perhaps if Carl Grace, Ben McGahee or Lynda Sorensen worked in the mental health field, six people wouldn't have had to die that January morning in Tucson. But committing Loughner to a mental institution in Arizona would have required a court order stating that he was a danger to himself and others.

Innumerable studies have found a correlation between severe mental illness and violent behavior. Thirty-one to 61 percent of all homicides committed by disturbed individuals occur during their first psychotic episode – which is why mass murderers often have no criminal record. There's no time to wait with the mentally ill.

James Holmes, the accused Aurora, Colo., shooter, was under psychiatric care at the University of Colorado long before he shot up a movie theater. According to news reports and court filings, Holmes told his psychiatrist, Dr. Lynne Fenton, that he fantasized about killing “a lot of people,” but she refused law enforcement's offer to place Holmes under confinement for 72 hours.

However, Fenton did drop Holmes as a patient after he made threats against another school psychiatrist. And after Holmes made threats against a professor, he was asked to leave campus. But he wasn't committed. People who knew he was deeply troubled just pushed him onto society to cause havoc elsewhere.

Little is known so far about Adam Lanza, the alleged Newtown, Conn., elementary school shooter, but anyone who could shoot a terrified child and say to himself, “That was fun – I think I'll do it 20 more times!” is not all there.

It has been reported that Lanza's mother, his first victim, was trying to have him involuntarily committed to a mental institution, triggering his rage. If true – and the media seem remarkably uninterested in finding out if it is true – Mrs. Lanza would have had to undergo a long and grueling process, unlikely to succeed.

As The New York Times' Joe Nocera recently wrote: “Connecticut's laws are so restrictive in terms of the proof required to get someone committed that Adam Lanza's mother would probably not have been able to get him help even if she had tried.”

Taking guns away from single women who live alone and other law-abiding citizens without mental illnesses will do nothing about the Chos, Loughners, Holmeses or Lanzas. Such people have to be separated from civil society, for the public's sake as well as their own. But this is nearly impossible because the ACLU has decided that being psychotic is a civil right.

Consequently, whenever a psychopath with a million gigantic warning signs commits a shocking murder, the knee-jerk reaction is to place yet more controls on guns. By now, guns are the most heavily regulated product in America.

It hasn't worked.

Even if it could work – and it can't – there are still subway tracks, machetes, fists and bombs. The most deadly massacre at a school in U.S. history was at an elementary school in Michigan in 1927. It was committed with a bomb. By a mentally disturbed man.

How about trying something new for once?



Lee in Phoenix said:

OK, here's something new: this time, let's not assume the problem is being addressed by new executive orders, as that only assures we won't be looking for other, better solutions. Instead we can maybe find someone in congress who wouldn't mind starting impeachment proceedings against Barry for his repeated defiance of the constitution.

Then we can try locking up the mentally schmerped.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 9:01 AM

wjm in Colorado said:

the ACLU has decided that being psychotic is a civil right

The liberals won't lock up the insane, they would all be locked up for their insane embrace of failed Marxist Ideology. Impeach, prosecute, and lock up the traitors.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 9:34 AM

Orf in Pittsburgh replied:

Libtards won't lock up the nuts for several reasons. One, that would mean imprisoning most of their own kind. Two, libtards love to see the "homeless" ones they have let out from the various asylums. They can identify with their form of insanity. And it gives them a warm feeling to drop a coin in a cup or to "make friends" with one of these unfortunate released patients. Three, libtards believe the insane are "persecuted" when they are behind locked doors, even though psychiatrists and psychotropic drugs are the best hope for these people.

We live in a society now that has degenerated greatly from the early Americans who had a sense of unity, common culture, religion, and goals. As all civilizations have a beginning and an end, so we are witnessing the decline and fall of Western Civilization. The communist in the White House has a good start in transforming America into its last stage of fascism/communism when ALL power is in the hands of the tyrant and his appointed czars. Gun confiscation, not protecting children, is the key to total control of the sheeple.

Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Tony in Texas said:

Way to carry the message Ann. Logic, don't leave home without it.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:24 AM

rab in jo,mo said:

the real dilemma is punishment for these individuals (assuming they don't do society a favor and voluntarily withdraw from the gene pool).

It is obvious through their actions that they are insane,but what to do about it? The criminal justice system in most states doesn't provide an option besides Guilty or Not Guilty by reason of Insanity. If judged to be insane, the individual is committed for treatment, then released back into society once they have been "cured" (or medicated). Years ago, Ohio had a third option: Guilty, but Insane. If convicted under this verdict, the individual was remanded for treatment to a state mental health facility. Once "cured" (or at least medicated), the individual would be sent to prison to serve the remainder of their sentence. I don't know if this option still exists, but it would help keep some of the whackos off the streets if all states allowed such a verdict.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:31 AM

Bob in MN replied:

The insanity plea is an escapist trick designed to keep psychopaths alive. Our foolish sympathy for the "mentally ill" is terribly misplaced. There is no excusable reason to commit cold - blooded murder. The solution to some of these events is to allow law-abiding folks to go armed and make it known that schools are not soft targets. But also address the behavior if the case gets to court. The reason for the behavior, if it is to open fire at a public gathering and indiscriminately kill kids, is not an issue... not at all. The consequences of the behavior need to be a swift execution in every case. The liability imposed on society by the very existence of these animals is an unconscionable assault on everything that is good and right. Kill them.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 7:53 AM

Lee in Phoenix said:

Actually, Rab, that's very close to a verdict advocated by Vincent Bugliosi (prosecutor in the Manson case). He thought "guilty by reason of insanity" would provide a blend of incarceration and/or treatment that could last as long as it 1) fits the crime, 2) is commensurate with the needs of the felon, and 3) could be adapted to the changing circumstances of the inmate/patient's condition.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:15 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA said:

Here's the problem as I see it. Your rights and mine doesn't matter as long as the ACLU and liberals continue to push their Socialist agenda. That is why in our deluded world today, criminals have more rights than the victim of the crime. Psychotropic drugs may work but when the individual stops taking them is when the trouble starts. These people need to be confined under careful watch to preclude them from stopping taking their medication. These people are not rational and and without medication are a threat to themselves and others. Political correctness completely out of control.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Tex Horn in Texas said:

Thanks for throwing a little logic into this debate, Ann. As Rick Perry says, "It takes a finger to pull the trigger." Think of the millions of law-abiding gun owners in America. They are being punished because of two sets of idiots: the insane persons who pulls the trigger in these massacres, and the government who passes inane laws that's have nothing to do with the real problems. It would be great if we could get both sets of idiots off the streets.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:25 AM

Tex in Oklahoma in Oklahoma said:

I'm far from liberal. I'm much more likely described as a far-right conservative who is very anxious about my eroding liberties. In that context, I have a concern about the preceding comments - and a question: Who decides a person is out of 'normal' sanity range and should be confined?

Is anyone looking at that aspect? It is a natural attack on a political adversary if such laws get into the books. I mean, committing people is historically a political tool! In my understanding, psychiatry is just not that much of a science. I'm not trying to offend the professionals - and I know very competent people who are responsible for many other's happiness including my own with marriage, children, and loss of a wife - but aren't I right that the profession in general does not call homosexuality something to cure anymore? Isn't it true that the majority of people who seek marriage counseling get a divorce anyway because counseling didn't help? You work on other examples and I'll bet you can think of some.

My point is I don't know an effective, trustworthy way of identifying those that mut be confined without that process quickly becoming widely abused by today's courts and politicians! Don't you know how the FBI identifies potential terrorist and that many who comment on these articles qualify themselves? Can't you imagine the document from such Federal sources defining how you should be confined 'until cured'? I'm old enough that I don't plan to be here by the time such laws might be enacted but the rest of you better get to thinking and considering what's been happening!

What I definitely would support is a rollback of all the privacy laws that are not working. If my wife or dependent 18 year-old goes into a hospital, and unless they remember to sign some blasted privacy form, I cannot find out what happened!! Wasn't that privacy stuff the work of arch-liberal Ted Kennedy? Typical part of a liberal's heritage, I'd say.

Be careful what you wish for. Please.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

rab in jo,mo replied:

I understand your point, but in many cases, the insanity is obvious, such as deciding to kill a bunch of schoolchildren or open fire on the audience in a crowded theater (after dying one's hair bright orange). Each of the recent incidents were perpetrated by individuals that were obviously disturbed/ill for quite some time before they acted. Others like Ed Gein, Ted Bundy or John Wayne Gacy were also obviously nuts and had been for a long time. I'm not saying phychiatry is perfect (many "therapists" are more disturbed than their patients). What I'm advocating is that there be another option besides letting an insane person off the hook for their crimes, throwing some meds at them and turning them loose in society after a 90day stay.

The scenario I described in my first post involved punishment after the fact. This, at least would allow the individual to get treatment, but still pay for their crime(s).

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 2:14 PM

Dioneikes in Colorado said:

I found this on Red State and it is very precise in its content. Barry would do well to remember this.

'Regardless, as the President announces how he will curtail the freedoms of the second amendment, we should remember Justice Robert Jackson’s opinion in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624 (1943)'

"The very purpose of a Bill of Rights was to withdraw certain subjects from the vicissitudes of political controversy, to place them beyond the reach of majorities and officials and to establish them as legal principles to be applied by the courts. One’s right to life, liberty, and property, to free speech, a free press, freedom of worship and assembly, and other fundamental rights may not be submitted to vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections."

I think that pretty much sums up the whole mess! But keep yore powder dry anyway as Obummah won't pay any mind to settled law.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Kurt.S in Missouri said:

I see the day when our illustrious emperor writes, or causes to have written, a second two thousand plus health care tome describing how mental illness is to be diagnosed and treated. It will also have a LOT of pork written into it and further increase the numbers of his IRS minions. In the end, being Republican, conservative and/or gainfully employed will probably be considered signs of dangerous mental deviancy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 12:55 PM

Jim in USA said:

Let's see here...there are nutcases running around with guns killing sane people and evil people running around with guns robbing and raping and killing innocent people. But trying to control them might involve interfering with their rights. So we'll stand on a soap box and shout "We're gonna do something about this for the children!" And then we'll take all the guns from the sane and innocent people (since they're so much more agreeable) and that'll solve the problem.

Forget about the merely violent. They affect such a small part of the population. We need to lock up those poor people who are suffering from this kind of anti-rational neurosis. They affect all of us. I really think that may be our last chance. The Commies have had great fun with their re-education camps. Why can't freedom lovers round up the left loons and put them in a padded cell with lots of lollipops and patiently try to teach them the Principals of Reason.

I know the teaching part would never work, but I'm sticking by the padded cell suggestion.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

Why are not the school psychiatrists,mingling with the students, to identify the psychos? After I.D. comes notification. After notification comes recommendations and treatment. While this is ongoing, for Christians, there is prayer, and more prayer.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 5:11 PM

Nor'Wester in Gone to pot said:

I heard a story from a bud one time about a friend of his who married a gal who had a 10 year old son. Their pets would always end up missing; cats, hamsters,etc. He finally saw the kid killing a hamster one day. He woke up one night and the kid was standing over him with a butcher knife aimed at his chest. Winter came and he took the kid ice skating on a lake. The kid fell through the ice and drowned. It's just a story I heard. Too bad the potential murdering types like Cho, Laughner, Holmes and Lanzas of the world didn't have someone take them ice skating.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 5:36 PM

tdrag in South Carolina replied:

I'm with you Nor'Wester. Sooner or later you have to do some thing about the rats and roaches.

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 8:14 PM

M Rick Timms MD in Georgia said:

Three Wide-Eyed Nut Jobs and a Radical Islamic Jihadist.
The first three are already seeing a Psychiatrist, and the fourth Guy - is One!

All the mass shooting happened in Gun Free Zones, except Gabby Gifford's shooting. She was outside, surrounded by Democrats, essentially a gun free zone. One good guy with a good could have stopped all of these, including the one at Ft Hood---A Gun Free Zone!!!

If Obama wants to do everything he can to help - why not even discuss eliminating Gun Free Zones?

Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 9:53 PM

Bob in MN replied:

There is no doubt that the issue of gun free zones will come up... The Federal position will continue to be one of incrementally reducing the capabilities of private citizens to protect themselves. That includes the continued use of dead children to forward the position that guns kill kids. The fact is, Liberal kill kids. They kill them in the womb and they get them killed in the schools because they insist on removing protection from the premises. They insist on having their own valuables and kids protected, but they insist that you not be able to protect your own... Gun Free Zones are one of the dearest tools of the Liberal politician. They gleefully anticipate the next mass killing of children knowing that it will be one more nail in the coffin of the Second Amendment. They are ghouls, feeding on the corpses of our children. Gun Free Zones feed these monsters.

Sunday, January 20, 2013 at 8:17 AM

BJ in St. Cloud, MN said:

Son Of Liberty;
I agree with you about the purpose of the Bill Of Rights.
The U.S. Constitution is a limitation on the govt, not on private individuals.It does not dictate the conduct of private individuals, only the conduct of govt. It is not a charter for govt power, but a charter of the citizens protection against the govt. Therefore, the last entity we should allow having input on amendments to the Constitution is the govt. Why would we allow the rule book limiting govt to be changed by the govt especially when it comes to the only amendment dealing with our ability to actually defend our God given rights.


Friday, January 18, 2013 at 4:59 PM