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From: "Clayton E. Cramer" <>
Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: Capitol Shooting
Date: Wed, 29 Jul 1998 14:27:04 -0700

The Polymath (Jerry Hollombe) wrote:

> Clayton E. Cramer wrote:
> > I hate to be difficult, but funding isn't really the issue -- it's the
> > mental
> > health committment laws.  This is a subject on which I have too much
> > personal knowledge, since I have an older brother who is a paranoid
> > schizophrenic, with a long history of violence.  (None of it to quite
> > this level, fortunately.)
> The laws say an involuntarily committed person has a right to have their
> case reviewed periodically and to be represented by competent counsel at
> those hearings.
> The funding part comes in when the attending doctors and pshrinks
> testify.  If they haven't got the budget to keep the loony locked up,
> they're going to be much more inclined to say, "He's not a danger as
> long as he takes his meds," instead of, "He has to be constantly
> medicated to suppress his violent behavior and is unlikely to remain so
> without continuous supervision."  Both statements are true, but have
> different likely outcomes.

My experience has been a bit different.  My brother has been locked upfor
observation about 20-30 times since he went psychotic in 1973.  In
just about every case, at the end of 17 days (72 hours initial observation
then 14 days afterwards), the psychiatrists told the judge that he was
a danger to himself and probably others.  (Heck, that's why he was
picked up the first place -- usually for unprovoked attacks on complete
strangers.)  The judges just about always overruled the psychiatrists.

> California's Atascadero State Hospital for the Criminally Insane has no
> problem keeping some very scary people locked up forever, in spite of
> the case review requirements.  Their funding comes out of the prisons
> budget, not mental health.

They are also holding people who have been convicted of very seriouscrimes.

> Note that this "least restrictive treatment" philosophy came into
> fashion shortly after the funding cuts hit the fan.  It's called "making
> a virtue of necessity" and probably salves a few hypocritical
> consciences.

I disagree.  The struggle over the woman living on the steam gratein New York
City a few years ago was STRICTLY an ACLU driven
show.  The psychiatrists considered her a hazard to herself (as she
clearly was).  The lawyers persuaded the judges involved that it
violated her inherent "dignity" as an individual to force her to stay
in a mental hospital instead of living on a steam grate, defecating
in her clothes.

The woman who shot up a mall in Pennsylvania several years ago
had a long history of run-ins with the law, and her mother, and
her doctors had repeatedly requested that she be confined against
her will.  They finally did -- after she killed one person and injured
several others.  Money wasn't the problem; the laws do not allow
committment until you seriously hurt someone.

My brother attempted to strangle my sister a couple of years ago.
The judge would not commit him.  (Oregon law is even more
absurd on this than California law, surprisingly enough.)  Last year
he tried to strangle my mother, and was interrupted by my
sister.  They finally confined him to a mental hospital for
several months.  (He's out now.)

From: "Clayton E. Cramer" <>
Newsgroups: talk.politics.guns
Subject: Re: [Politics] Allies in strange places: mental health advocates
Date: Mon, 03 Aug 1998 13:56:14 -0700

Steve Greer wrote:

> I haven't given it much thought before, but they have a strong
> case.  The Penn. law sounds very close to banning all guns from
> any household with a "mental patient".  It IS an unfair stigma;
> if a  member of your family every becomes a "mental patient" you
> will understand how unfair it is.

Especially if the time comes when you have to force that mental patient
to leave the house, because they have become too violent or scary to keep
around.  (And believe me, that's a very, very difficult thing to do,
especially for a parent.  I watched the agony it put my parents through
when my brother reached the point where it was too dangerous to have him
at home anymore.)

> Exactly how do they define "committed" and "mental institution"?

It depends on the state.  In California, the Welfare & Institutions Code
has very precise definitions on this.

> It is common that many of the "chemical imbalance" disorders do
> not surface until a person reaches adulthood.  A person can be
> perfectly healthy growing up, then one day,  ... boom.  It also
> is not unusual for a person to be admitted involutarily to a
> hospital when this happens, since they often refuse to believe or
> (in an altered state of mind) are unable to comprehend what is
> happening.

My brother went psychotic over a period of about six weeks.  For a short
while, he knew that there was SOMETHING wrong, but neither he nor my
parents understand what the patches of color on the walls meant.  Then,
he reached the point where he would no longer discuss it, because the
problem had taken over.  I wish we had known then what we know now about

> With the today's technology and drugs, most are released (under
> doctor's care and treatment) to a perfectly normal life.  They
> simply have an over/under production of some hormone controlling
> brain activity which can easily be fixed with medication, unlike
> years ago.

Most?  I don't think so.  A majority of paranoid schizophrenics stop
taking their medicine after leaving the hospital.  Many become your local
homeless person.

> Believe me, a lot of households could be affected by some
> gun-banner's loose interpretation of this law.

Yup.  All the more reason to reform the problems of our mental
health system.

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