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May 26, 2014

"Disarming the Dangerous: Preventing Extraordinary and Ordinary Violence"

The title of this post is the title of this new paper by Mary Fan now available via SSRN. Though posted on line a few weeks ago, this piece strikes me as distinctly and depressingly timely in the wake of the mass shooting in California a few days ago. Here is the abstract:

Recent mass shootings at Navy Yard, Newtown, Aurora and elsewhere have jolted Congress and the states into considering gun violence prevention.  More than 1,500 gun-related bills have been introduced since 2013, after the slaughter in Newtown of twenty elementary school children and six adults.  Current legislation and debates are shaped by the specter of a heavily armed, mentally ill individual hunting in public places such as schools, businesses, and workplaces.  In the states, the most successful type of legislation involves firearms restrictions for the mentally ill.  In Congress, the legislation that garnered the most debate was a ban on assault weapons and large-capacity magazines.  While the national attention to firearms violence prevention is salutary, for law and policy to tackle the core of the problem it is important to address two empirical questions: Who are the dangerous individuals committing most firearms homicides and why do the law’s current screens miss them?

This article draws on data from the National Violent Death Reporting System to answer the crucial foundational questions of who poses a danger and why the dangerous slip through existing legal screens.  Presenting data on the most prevalent place of shooting, victim-shooter relationship, and the shooter’s prior history, the article shows that prevention of extraordinarily devastating firearms violence calls for attention to how the nation addresses “ordinary” violence.  By ordinary violence, this article means violence that is often viewed as mundane, such as altercations between family members, friends and intimates in the home.  Many perpetrators of firearms homicide have a history of such prior events -- yet a substantially smaller proportion of these violent episodes have been adjudicated, thereby slipping through existing screens for firearms restrictions.  Based on these findings, the article discusses how discretion in dealing with “ordinary violence” can improve detection of the dangerous regardless of whether proposed firearms restrictions survive the gauntlet for new gun laws.

May 26, 2014 at 10:08 AM | Permalink


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Thank the Supreme Court for these maniacal rampage killings. Before 1976, involuntary treatment was based on medical necessity. After the lawyer took over psychiatry, there has to be a hearing employing three lawyers, a prosecutor, a defense lawyer and a magistrate, and one must prove the patient has done something dangerous. Now, the rampage killer qualifies for involuntary treatment. Imagine withholding treatment for breast cancer to only after it has proven dangerous by invading the lungs and causing shortness of breath. That is what the Supreme Court is saying about psychiatric treatment.

Prior to this devastating decision, a cause of 100,000 of deaths by suicide and murder, there was so much recourse in torts and in criminal law for any bad faith or false commitment, that it was virtually impossible to pull off. Two physicians who did not know each other would have to lie for a fee of $25. Then the accepting treating psychiatrist would also have to be in on the conspiracy, or else he could immediately discharge a patient not needing treatment.

The Supreme Court killed thousands so that 3 lawyers could have lousy, government make work jobs.

Posted by: Supremacy Claus | May 26, 2014 11:40:23 AM

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