Harvard Psychiatrist: We Can’t Stop Mass Shooters – Victims Must Be Able to Defend Themselves

June 3 2014
by GSL Staff
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Following the recent Isla Vista mass killings (notice I said killings, and not shooting), there has been a lot of talk of gun control and even more talk about mental healthcare. However, just what can be done outside of knee-jerk, feel-good reactions that has been proposed so far?

According to Arthur Berg, a former associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, not much outside of making sure that potential victims can defend themselves.

The following excerpts are from an article written by Mr. Berg and Dr. John Lott in the NY Post (emphasis mine),

With the Santa Barbara killings, mental health is again the central focus. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) is pushing for more resources on mental health “to make sure that these kinds of horrific, insane, mad occurrences are stopped and the Congress will be complicit if we fail to act.”

But the killer, Elliot Rodger, had already been receiving top-quality mental-health counseling for years. One of his psychiatrists, Dr. Charles Sophy, is nationally known and medical director for the LA County Department of Children and Family Services.

Rodger had, in fact, been seeing multiple psychiatrists. Some blame the sheriff’s deputies for not doing more to investigate an initial complaint, but Rodger’s psychiatrists ultimately had the responsibility to ensure he had the proper treatment. It’s not obvious how more money would have helped.

There are no cheap or easy answers. If someone poses a true danger to others, why not lock them up? Or provide outpatient care-givers to monitor them?

No one wants a dangerous person to have a weapon. But our mental-health system simply can’t be the last line of defense. There are just too many mistakes. Potential victims need to be able to defend themselves.

The options seem pretty clear – we would either have to go back to the involuntary commitments to asylums that we saw back in the first half of the 1900’s in which anyone who exhibits any form of mental illness is simply locked away (which is not the most desirable solution) or we allow potential victims to defend themselves from these crazy people. Berg points out that these types of violent spree killers are exceedingly rare, with less than 1 in 100,000 schizophrenics ever committing crimes such as these. Doesn’t defending ourselves from these exceedingly rare occurrences make the most sense?

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