We Hear You: Guns and How We Treat the Mentally Ill
Ken McIntyre /
Editor’s note: Amy Swearer’s commentaries on mental illness, gun control, and the anniversary of the Parkland shooting stirred responses from our audience. We lead off with some of them. Don’t forget to write us at [email protected]—Ken McIntyre
Dear Daily Signal: Amy Swearer hit the nail squarely on the head with her commentary article about the reduction of institutional beds for the mentally ill and its impact on society (“How Mass Deinstitutionalization Harmed the Mentally Ill”).
When we were younger, my wife and I adopted a son and brought him home when he was a day old. When he was 9, we noticed some very bizarre behaviors.
We had him seen by various psychiatrists and he was determined to be bipolar, rapid cycling, and likely psychopathic. By that time we had two other biological children.
It was a nightmare. Our son became so violent and out of control while we tried different medications that we put him in a private residential facility. Unfortunately, the facility was designed for behavior issues, not mental illness. After a year and over $60,000, they told us to come get him, that there was nothing they could do.
On his 18th birthday, he took what he could carry, had a friend pick him up, quit taking his meds, and chose to live a life of poverty.
Our son is now 25, has been in and out of prison several times, and uses drug rehab as an escape from drug dealers looking to collect. He stays for a couple of weeks and then gets kicked out for noncompliance.
Based solely on my 25 years of experience with him, I see several impacts on society that never are mentioned. Of course there are the crime, drug use, and theft to pay for the drugs, which then lead to violent drug dealer turf wars. Yes, our prisons are full of undiagnosed and/or unmedicated, mentally ill inmates.
What isn’t talked about, though, is that much of our poverty is a result of mental illness. The mentally ill have an irrational thought process; my son and his friends have no concept of the future. They live for today and the moment. If they have a job but a friend has a problem and needs help, they just don’t go to work and then lose their job.
When they get paid, they don’t save the money to pay bills or to buy groceries, it’s used for recreational purposes such as drugs, alcohol, eating out, buying gadgets. Then when they have to pay the rent, car payment, insurance, or the electric bill, they can’t. Eventually they lose where they are living and then quit their job to deal with life.
It’s a cycle that they repeat for most of their lives. It’s not a lack of education; you can’t teach a rational thought process. When our son was 12, he could describe trickle-down economics and how reducing taxes improves the greater economy. Yet when he has two nickels, he’s looking to spend a quarter.
The way we treat the mentally ill today is to give them free housing, utilities, food, clothing, a phone, cash, and maybe a job and means to get to work. We house them in compounds we call subsidized or government housing, and as long as they stay in their area, we really don’t care what they do.
They can do all the drugs and alcohol they can find, sit around watching TV and playing video games. But as soon as they slip out and interact with normal people, we put them in the system, giving them probation requirements that they can’t comply with, and then send them to jail and prison where they network and learn how to be a better criminal.
Over the years, we tried inpatient hospitalization. Beds are too few, and if the patient refuses to take his meds or to participate, he or she is kicked out.
Of course they are noncompliant. What I have seen is that they think there is nothing wrong with them; it’s the rest of the world that’s wrong.
Look at Eric Harris, one of the teenage shooters in the Columbine massacre. Upon reading the psychiatric evaluation from the FBI psychiatrist, our blood ran cold. Many of the basic behaviors Harris exhibited were also exhibited by our son and his friends.
I know all too well how expensive treatment is. But given the cost of incarceration, the cost of various social programs, the cost of crime, I’m not sure that actually treating the root cause would be any more expensive in the long run. And regardless, it’s the right thing to do.
While our son was incarcerated, we tried to get the judge to force him to take his medications. The judge said our son had rights, and the court couldn’t force him.
The system is horribly broken. At least some of these citizens could be somewhat productive and contribute to supporting themselves as well as society, if we were to treat the root cause and not the symptoms.
Thank you for the insight your articles provide.—Mark Smith, Manchester, Tennessee
Thanks for Amy Swearer’s excellent article on deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill. It would be nice if it got greater coverage. I will do my part by tweeting it.—John Jamison
The problem, it seems to me in reading Amy Swearer’s commentary, is that we as a nation are more interested in protecting the aliens who illegally came here instead of our own (“The Role of Mental Illness in Mass Shootings, Suicides”).
Treatment for the mentally ill has been ignored, same as the homeless here in the United States. If more treatment were provided to the mentally ill, the murder rate and suicide rate should drop.—Mary Brandeberry
Cliche: Guns don’t kill people, people do . Can we go deeper in the root cause?
The sanctity of life is at an all-time low. Many reasons and many answers—individual selfishness and a lack of fear of God among them.—Raymond Schrem
If the government would stop interfering with families and their disciplining of their children, things would be better.
Remember, the government through the public schools forbids any signs of Christianity, supports all kinds of sexual debauchery, forces the homosexual agenda on our children, violates children’s constitutional protections, and counsels children against their parents’ authority.
So, yes, I hold the government fully responsible for all these shooting incidents.—Bob Shoemaker
If we don’t include the increasing addiction of elementary school students to violent video games, in addition to older teens and other adults, we will be missing an important piece of the puzzle.
Check the profiles of young mass shooters, and you’ll find heavy use of violent video games. Elementary school kids are hooked for hours a day on the game “Fortnite,” and unsuspecting parents haven’t a clue what their vulnerable kids are watching on the family computer and at friends’ houses.—Marcy Thobaben
Schizophrenia was mentioned at least once in Amy Swearer’s commentary. Though not brought out here, schizophrenia has also been mentioned as a possible result (or probable, depending on the commentator) of the use of marijuana.
Increased occurrences of this illness need to be considered in light of the trend toward total legalization of marijuana, which was found back in the 1970s to be a risk to mental health.
Recent writings have explored the idea that legalization of this drug is not the result of later research concluding that earlier research was faulty, but the result of intense lobbying by entities with a financial interest.—Bob Robb
Regarding Amy Swearer’s commentary on the anniversary of the Parkland school shooting, one factor ignored by gun control proponents is the reality of evil in human nature (“A Year After Parkland Shooting, Gun Control Activists Still Misdiagnose the Problem“).
NPR recently interviewed Robert Runcie, superintendent of the Broward County school district in Florida where the Parkland shooting occurred.
A male who tries to kill someone for no reason is not a “gentleman” but an evil monster, and his shooting of the future superintendent’s mother was a criminal act of attempted murder, not a “hate crime.”
Until our society and leaders address the intrinsic evil in human nature and quit hiding behind mental health and gun violence as convenient excuses for sadistic acts, we will never be able to effectively cope with this problem.—Bert Chapman
Many children are addicted to their phones and don’t engage in actual conversation very much. Many parents are also addicted to phones and don’t talk to their children very much.
As a result, the children don’t learn empathy and morality. In addition, I read that use of marijuana can cause mental illness such as schizophrenia, especially in the concentrated form now in use.
Intelligent animals such as apes, dolphins, cats, dogs, and humans engage in play to wire their brains properly, according to a book I read. Our society and our schools are depriving children of play, and this can cause brain malfunction.
These factors of excessive phone use, drug use, and play deprivation can cause mental problems that lead young people to go on a shooting spree at a school. We should look to other factors rather than guns as the problem.—Gary Woodburn
A Letter to Fellow Americans
Dear Daily Signal: My father, P.R. Krantz, is 92 and deeply concerned about the security of our country. At his request, I have written a letter to our fellow Americans proposing a solution, a suggestion meant to prompt a favorable response.
I am hoping the letter will inspire an experienced individual to create a “Build the Wall” fundraising organization and encourage all citizens to donate. Here it is:
Our American culture is at risk. When so many nations are dealing with the same issue, we find hope only in what we can do for our homeland.
What a commendable idea President Trump had in proposing the border wall. Sadly, it has come to this, rather than Mexico and the United States embracing their individual cultures.
Mexico is such a beautiful country. The people and their traditions are so wonderful. It is difficult to comprehend this exodus from Mexico.
The United States is our home. How can we continue to stand proud if what we have is jeopardized? There are so many diverse nations on this earth. What an awful suggestion that we bleed into only one. All of the world’s beauty would then become extinct.
Imagine patriots remaining in and fighting for the improvement of their own native lands. This would be the moral answer. Not the act of invading other nations.
We must demonstrate allegiance to our nation. In this time of crisis, let us act to maintain freedom.
In a country of approximately 326 million people, surely some do subscribe to the concept of a border wall. If a decisive sum were sacrificed among supporters, could this structure be erected? I believe such a goal to be obtainable.
Purposefully combining public aid with federal resources is essential to construction costs. Through working in union as a people and a government, we can proceed to “Make America Great Again,” Mr. President.
Retaining independence as a nation requires diligence. By creating a trust fund to raise the protective wall, our heritage can prevail.—Christy Krantz, Krotz Springs, La.
Dear Daily Signal: Watching “Fox News Sunday” recently, I became absolutely incensed. The falsehoods, fallacy, and ignorance being passed off as facts, knowledge, and argument by host Chris Wallace and others opposing the president’s emergency declaration regarding the southern border are appalling.
The media are deliberately creating an unnecessary, divisive controversy by falsely reporting what has occurred and its constitutional implications. What’s being manufactured is the controversy, not the crisis.
Having practiced constitutional law for several decades in the federal courts, I perhaps have an edge in recognizing this. But it is hard to believe that Wallace and others are not acting out of deliberate indifference to the truth.
Wallace began by peppering White House aide Stephen Miller with false-premise questions, then rudely and repeatedly interrupting to prevent Miller’s delivery of accurate responses.
Wallace insisted, for example, that Congress has refused to appropriate funding for additional border barriers. That is obviously false, and Wallace certainly should know so. Congress passed, and never repealed, legislation requiring additional barriers.
Congress just passed an additional appropriation for barrier construction. That Congress has failed to fund a project completely or adequately is neither the factual nor legal equivalent of denying funds or prohibiting completion.
Wallace then argued that uncontrolled drug smuggling cannot justify a need for remote border barriers when most seized drugs are interdicted at ports of entry.
Contraband seized at ports of entry is only a tiny fraction of the total coming across the border; drug abuse would otherwise be virtually nonexistent. It is obvious that far greater amounts of contraband and human smuggling evade interdiction because they pass through uncontrolled parts of the border.
Every crossing of the border other than at a port of entry is a crime, and a large percentage of those illegal entries are felonies. Barriers are needed to impede those crimes and divert that illegal traffic to ports of entry.
Minutes later, another journalist claimed that the president cannot resort to the statute authorizing construction by the military when the work will not be on or around a military base. Has no one bothered to read the statute (10 U.S.C. §284)? It specifically authorizes emergency military construction, not to protect military bases but to aid civilian law enforcement in suppressing smuggling and transnational organized crime.
This statute plainly authorizes exactly what the president proposes. It also shows a congressional determination that transnational crime that isn’t controlled by civilian law enforcement constitutes a national emergency. The current emergency has grown by increments, but it is no less an emergency because gross negligence allowed it to fester.
Wallace later interviewed Rush Limbaugh and tried to equate President Obama’s illegal establishment of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program with President Trump’s declaration.
Does Wallace really not recognize that executive action that actually makes new law, and overrides what Congress actually enacted, is very different from the use of already-appropriated funds for purposes expressly authorized?
If there is any confusion, it exists mostly because the current declaration, unlike most prior declarations, actually identifies an emergency close to the core of what the National Emergencies Act of 1976 was meant to address. Journalists are acting like some folks who long have been using a hammer as a doorstop, and no longer can recognize it is meant for driving nails.
At the heart of Wallace’s apparent discontent is basic ignorance of, or disagreement with, how Congress delegates authority to the executive. Article I of the Constitution does not support micromanagement by a committee of over 500. Those who drafted and approved it were not such fools.
The Supreme Court and its subordinate courts have consistently recognized that Congress must vest the executive with discretion to determine how policy is put into effect and how funds will be spent.
The National Emergencies Act provides that an emergency, once declared, shall continue until the president declares it at an end, or Congress has passed a joint resolution terminating it. There is no provision for review by courts.—Lyle D. Aldridge, Tucson, Ariz.
Two Views of High-Speed Rail
Dear Daily Signal: Responding to David Ditch’s commentary (“California’s High-Speed Rail Failure Shows the Insanity of Green New Deal”), until five years ago we lived most of our lives near Portland, Oregon, where they built a 60-mile light-rail system over 31 years.
At $50 million per mile, the Portland MAX System (Metropolitan Area Express) is known locally as the Crime Train because every community in which its tracks are laid incurs a soaring crime rate.
The Portland metro population when we left was barely over 2 million. Ridership then was 2.44 percent and supported by 97.6 percent of a highly taxed population that never rides that Crime Train.
Which begs the question: Why is it fair that the majority of working Americans fund cheap transpiration for a minority of our population? Would it not be better to encourage that population to improve their standard of living enough to become self-sufficient citizens?
Communities in that area resist with a vengeance having tracks laid in their communities, as no one wants increased crime reducing property values and personal safety. As we moved away, the Clackamas community received tracks after politicians who had lost re-election bids secured deals financing the project just before their terms expired.
Referring back to your article, it’s counterproductive for any community to receive light-rail tracks with increased personal taxes to support their existence. Elected representatives who choose to promote personal agendas versus insuring better community standards need to be held personally liable.
But how does one do that when they have created laws protecting their secret deals, ultimately removing their accountability to the voters who elected them?
Remove the laws protecting crooked politicians and watch the values of common sense—best for our nation and its communities—return.—Ron Dale, Boise, Idaho
From a physics perspective, travel by rail represents the most efficient means to move people and goods (“Trump Demands California Pay Back Federal Government for Canceled Bullet Train Project”).
In a day and age of climate change caused by the unfettered burning of fossil fuels, coupled with the increasing challenges to extract these dwindling fuels, it would seem that developing high-speed rail would be the best path forward. It is also an excellent means to reduce traffic congestion on our overused and clogged highways.
Many other nations such as China and Japan are far ahead of us in implementing high-speed rail as a practical alternative to long-distance mass transit. For the world’s superpower not to have advanced high speed rail is shameful and embarrassing.
It’s high time for our leaders to revitalize and update our railroads for the 21st century to help save our planet and our economy.—Michael Pravica, Las Vegas
Editor’s note: Michael Pravica, Ph.D., is a professor of physics at the University of Nevada.
This and That
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., along with other socialists and left-wing politicians, have been on a “seek and destroy” mission to demonize capitalists in our country.
They are using their power to attempt to redistribute other people’s wealth by progressively taxing the rich. According to the socialists and others, wealthy capitalists are enemies of the state. Before we trade in our American capitalist system for a socialist regime, do we know if we’ll be getting a bargain?
Socialism is an economic system of collectivization and government centralization of the production and distribution of goods. Ocasio-Cortez’s Green New Deal is a perfect example of socialism.
The Green New Deal would centralize government control of our health care, energy use, business, homes, travel, technology, labor, finance, education, including social engineering projects.
This government control would cost us higher taxes, the loss of private businesses, property rights, and free markets, slow economic growth, and a decrease in the standard of living. It would bankrupt our economy.
Capitalism is an economic system that allows trade and private ownership of business and industry for profit. Our capitalist system encourages innovation and competition, and creates jobs.
Throughout America’s history, “wealthy capitalists” like Ben Franklin, George Washington Carver, Jonas Salk, and Bill Gates were the entrepreneurs, philanthropists, inventors and scientists who, given freedom from government interference, made our country the envy of other nations.
Russian chess great Garry Kasparov wrote in 2016: “A society that relies too heavily on redistributing wealth eventually runs out of wealth to redistribute. … Once you give power to the government it’s nearly impossible to get it back, and it will be used in ways you cannot expect.”—Marcia Brunelli, Havertown, Pa.
The socialist wing of the Democrat Party rolls out the Green New Deal for the future of America, and those who have thrown in their hats for the 2020 election stomp all over each other to sign on to a plan that will doom the country once and for all.
The greatest country on the planet, purposely flushed right down the drain. Not that we shouldn’t be seeking energy-saving technologies. But to think this can be accomplished in 10 years is a plan hatched by those who have their own branch reserved for them, way up there on the stupid tree.
This country is run on carbon technology and will be for quite some time. Those who think otherwise should seek medical help. This plan is totally unworkable, and it is surprising that so many people are so willing to jump on an inevitable train crash.
This would devastate the country, and about two to three years from now people should have wrapped their little pea brains around the absolute fact that this is impossible. Getting Ocasioed or Bernied will be a national disaster. Everything in its time, and that “Star Trek” time is many years away.
OK, enough of all of this. And since I have planned to take my wife to Hawaii in 10 years, we better make our reservations on that high-speed train that these socialists plan for us.—Robert Patrick, McCormick, S.C.
I just found out that Prager U videos were being restricted on YouTube. I am appalled that morally bereft videos of gyrating, half-clad women are not restricted, but PragerU’s videos are.
I have watched many of the videos and although I am an atheist, I find nothing that offends me but much which I am thrilled is being put out there.
I am planning to use PragerU videos to help me bring some reality to my grandchildren when they are old enough to comprehend the concept. I worked in the public education system for a time, but left because I couldn’t stomach what was and was not being taught to children as young as 5.
Thanks to Dennis Prager for all he and his team are attempting to do for children and adults who stumble upon the videos and get an alternative view. As a result they are able to question, research perhaps, and get an opportunity to make their own informed decisions about their beliefs.
I applaud this one giant step for free speech.—Erin Martin
After two years of this nonsense, the time finally has arrived for cable, network, and print media to give President Trump some breathing room.
The president is desperately fighting for the nation. He is battling to deal with a drug scourge, human trafficking, and an invasion of illegal immigrants.
Yet media types never tender the slightest element of favor toward the man for his efforts. Which makes one to pause to consider whether the nation’s media monolith is controlled by a cabal of anarchists.
Prior to Trump’s presidency, politicians ran to the man with their greedy little hands out, crying for campaign money. The media sucked up to, idolized, and followed the man around like little puppy dogs, begging for a minute of his time. But now, their daily missions involve incessantly trashing the man and his family.
Given his wealth, the president could have bypassed the White House by remaining in New York’s Trump Tower. He chose instead to attempt to restore some semblance of order to Washington’s rat-infested swamp.
But as strong as the president is, he will never clean out this political cesspool. Washington’s state of affairs has gone not only beyond the point of no return, but also redemption.—Earl Beal, Terre Haute, Ind.
Sarah Sleem and Courtney Joyner contributed to this edition of “We Hear You.”