In the wake of any mass shooting, there’s a predictable and justified burst of public outrage and sorrow followed by a series of “do something now” legislative proposals meant to prevent similar tragedies from ever occurring again.
Depending on the political leanings of the politician or media figure offering the solution, the proposal often rests upon one of these twin assumptions: We must rid the world of the wrong kinds of weapons (i.e., “assault weapons”), or, we must keep guns away from the wrong kinds of people (i.e., “crazy people”).
“How many more copycats are waiting in the wings for their moment of fame from a national media machine that rewards them with wall-to-wall attention and a sense of identity that they crave, while provoking others to try to make their mark?” asked Wayne LaPierre, official lightning rod of the National Rifle Association, in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary shooting. “A dozen more killers, a hundred more? How can we possibly even guess how many, given our nation’s refusal to create an active national database of the mentally ill?”
Even the nation’s premier gun lobby believes keeping guns away from the mentally ill is a good idea. It’s a sensible-sounding proposal, a logical precaution. But some forensic psychiatrists, whose jobs include the task of identifying potentially violent individuals, say that targeting the mentally ill isn’t as simple as it sounds.
Watch the Reason TV video above, “The Truth About Mental Illness and Guns,” to hear more about flawed gun control policies and for the full story behind the Phillips’ gun confiscation experience.