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    Gun Violence Is A Mental Health Issue, Not An Awareness One
    By Hank Campbell | January 10th 2013 03:30 AM | 38 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Hank

    I'm the founder of Science 2.0® and co-author of "Science Left Behind".

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    Writing in JAMA, a group of researchers say the way to curb gun violence is to treat guns as a public health awareness issue, the way we do awareness campaigns against cigarettes and drunk driving.

    So media, celebrities and the public should "de-glorify" guns the same way, though the efficacy of the campaigns they list is suspect.  In movies, directors now make sure the edgy, rebellious person smokes, in order to show how edgy and rebellious they are. And marijuana use is actually being encouraged in lots of the same states that ban cigarettes in bars despite billions of dollars in awareness campaigns about the dangers of drugs.

    Regardless of the questionable success versus cost metric of prior campaigns, they state that a similar effort "could justifiably equate gun violence with weakness, irrationality, and cowardice" and reduce its glorification in movies, television, and video games.  Media certainly has a profound impact on culture, and that has to include violence. A Super Bowl ad spot isn't going for $4 million because the media doesn't influence people.  But not everyone runs out and buys a car because it was in a Super Bowl ad, just like not everyone who watches a movie with guns will kill people. Expensive Super Bowl ads about gun safety would be rather pointless, since there is no evidence that would keep evil sociopaths from killing someone.

    Yet the JAMA piece, for its misconceptions, is at least a refreshing change from the mainstream media efforts extolling new efforts to ban guns - journalists have gone out of their way to ignore the fact that every one of these high-profile shooters in the last 20 years has been on some kind of psychiatric medication, presumably because they don't want to demonize the mentally ill. Instead, the retreaded meme they provide for us has been 'a horrible tragedy occurred and you had nothing to do with it, but give up your guns'. Similar moralizing is being done by celebrities who glorify gun culture when someone cuts them a check, using the 'it is my job, it is art, not what I believe' hypocritical blanket. Here's an example of teary, somber celebrities telling us how evil guns are and reciting the tragedies, interspersed with scenes of them using guns in their movies (the movies these anti-gun actors make are pretty graphic, and so are the clips).



    Wouldn't it be revolutionary - shocking, even - if we took all the money we could be spending on lawsuits over pointless, feel-good legislation or awareness campaigns that guns can kill people if we let sociopaths have them, and instead actually used it to help the one demographic that is consistent in every one of these shootings; the mentally ill. That seems like a no-brainer. With more money devoted to the real public health aspects of violence - mental illness - we wouldn't need to pretend a .223 is an "assault weapon" or that more background checks will cure evil.

    But the authors aren't doing themselves any favors, or us, by massaging the statistics to make their case - they note 30,000 'deaths' per year involving guns but don't point out that gun use in suicides is 160% of gun use in homicides.  It is charming to think that gun awareness campaigns will stop suicide but that is not going to pass muster among an intelligent audience - an intelligent audience goes right back to mental health funding. Almost as many people suffocate themselves to death as are murdered involving guns and 'gun homicide' statistics include criminals who are shot by the police, which is not really the same thing as murder due to  Hollywood gun culture.

    Some gun deaths are accidents so lumping those in with 'deaths due to guns' feels vaguely dishonest. Maybe awareness can lessen those, but again, at what cost?  Would not the same money save far more lives doing awareness campaigns for poison, where there are 3X as many accidental deaths as there are gun murders each year?  Or automobile safety, 3.5X as many each year as gun murders?  Even alcohol kills 2.5X as many people as guns, without even including drunk driving deaths.

    Why are the lives of people lost to gun deaths so much more important than people who die due to cars and poisoning?  If we want to save lives, all murders combined are way down at number 15 of the greatest mortality issues people face each year, a paltry 0.7 percent of the ways Americans die annually. And guns are a fraction of that.  The rifles that politicians and activists want to ban kill fewer people each year than hammers and even fists. Yes, we could save more people by banning hammers than we could by vilifying rifles. Are people who club someone to death not mentally ill?

    Regardless of the real data,  lead author Dariush Mozaffarian, associate professor in the Department of Epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health, said in their statement,  "Gun violence is a public health crisis, and addressing this will require a comprehensive, multi-dimensional public health strategy"  

    No, a multi-dimensional health strategy is actually a terrible idea, because it siphons money from efforts that could actually help into feel-good fallacies for political soundbites, like 'gun awareness' initiatives politicians can take credit for. Spend the money on mental health care.

    The rest of their paper is the kind of thing you expect from out-of-touch academics. Slap a new tax on guns and ammunition, they say, to more accurately reflect the true societal costs of gun ownership. What are those costs compared to the millions of other ways people die each year?  There is no metric for 'true societal cost of guns' ... the Newtown shooting was done by a mentally ill man whose single mother had weapons for home defense.  What is the societal cost of single mothers being helpless against criminals?  One of the authors is funded by the Joyce Foundation, which lists gun control as one of its goals. But they must realize shooting spree gun violence would be prevented by addressing mental health. Psychiatric medication, as noted, has been a common denominator.

    Other recommendations are common sense - better safety.  Is there any safety issue that has not been addressed that can be addressed by a top down approach?  Putting a whole bunch of new taxes on people to pay for safety measures some people are not going to use is just silly.

    "For common products like cigarettes, cars, and guns, many individuals, groups, and institutions need to become involved. As 'friends don't let friends drive drunk,' similarly friends should help ensure that a friend going through a psychological crisis doesn't have ready access to a firearm until the crisis is over," economist David Hemenway, author of "Private Guns, Public Health" and professor of health policy at Harvard School of Public Health who co-authored the editorial, said in their statement. He also once blamed the 'road rage' epidemic we once had on gun ownership. So California's gun violence plummeting while gun sales doubled in the last 10 years must really be puzzling him. 


    And we need an economist to tell us someone having a mental crisis should not have access to a gun?  Why isn't this economist instead adding up the 'true societal cost of mental health' rather than using a tragedy to advance his pet cause? 
     
    I imagine the advertising heads are spinning with ideas right about now, especially with the prospect of billions of dollars in 'awareness' taxpayer dollars flowing to them.

    To save time, here are some campaign suggestions for them:

    Only Guys Who Wear Mullets Like To Use Bullets

    Raise Ugly Daughters. Dads With Pretty Daughters Shoot More People 

    I Won't Say Yes If You Own An SKS

    "I Know You're Upset" Works As Well As A Gun For Self-Defense

    Owning A Gun Makes You Dangerous, Just Like Owning a Guitar Makes You A Rock Star

    By all means add your own in a comment.

    Citation: Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH; David Hemenway, PhD; David S. Ludwig, MD, PhD, 'Curbing Gun Violence: Lessons From Public Health Successes', JAMA. 2013;():1-2. doi:10.1001/jama.2013.38


    Comments

    Wow, Hank.

    There's a lot I felt was totally wrong in this article. A .223 not being an assault weapon? The British Army standard assault rifle fires a 5.56mm round, that's even smaller than .223! Lots of other countries have 5.56mm assault rifles as standard too! Granted the .223 is slightly slower but not much. How has calibre got anything to do with being an assault rifle?

    Problems equating death numbers. You point out that only 0.7% of deaths are firearms related? How is that relevant as to whether they should be banned or not? Maybe more people do die from road traffic accidents, and indeed other accidents, but remember driving is essential for a huge number of people, guns are not. Also, alcohol as a drink has enjoyment as a primary purpose, most guns apart from target rifles and sports pistols are primarily designed to injury or kill. Why else would you need semi-auto, burst, or automatic firing? In general, I think accidents should be removed from pretty much all death figures when doing this kind of comparison.

    Take an extreme example, a unique product which is somehow designed purely to kill one person per year, guaranteed. No other purpose. Should it be banned or allowed? The way I've interpreted your logic is: The death toll is tiny so why ban it? I'd argue instead that such a product is harmful and not useful and should be banned. Firearms are closer to this extreme than cars or alcohol, so should be higher up on the priorities to address.

    Finally, about single mothers being helpless against criminals unless they have a gun. I won't even get into the argument of whether it's better to kill a burglar or let them get away with some stuff and have a chance of being caught later. I don't disagree that sometimes pulling a gun will spook a criminal and they will bolt, but really I think you are just raising the stakes in a game you don't really want to pay - how many single mums would hesitate less than a criminal when it comes to pulling the trigger? If it were up to me, I'd recommend people let criminals take stuff, and claim on insurance. Do whatever you can to help the police, but a society designed so people can just slay people outright if they are trying to commit a crime probably isn't one I'd choose to live in. Doesn't seem very civilised to me.

    Hank
    Hi AG,

    Well, the metric for an assault rifle is simple.  Has anyone on actual assault teams ever used it? I hope British assault teams use something with a little more power than the infantry, which needs a reliable, fast-shooting, light weapon. Calling something 'assault rifle' is just marketing, as are cosmetic modifications to make them look more dangerous. That is why so many gun companies use the term - and why anti-gun activists do as well.  A .223 is illegal for hunting not because it is unfair due to being an 'assault' rifle, but because it is too small and would lead to a lot of injured animals. 

    The rest of your points are completely valid - I am not saying the government should mandate 200 round clips any more than guns should be banned.  But I broke those numbers out precisely because anti-gun activists are being dishonest in how they are using them. 

    On home defense, your assumption is that the criminal is only there to take things and not harm anyone.  That is a bold risk to take with someone else's children and you already have the option to take that risk for your own, by not owning a gun - dictating that no one be able to make a choice different than yours is social authoritarianism.  Why get more social authoritarian in America to try and stop crazy maniacs from being crazy maniacs?

    The money, as I said, would be better spent on mental health than on penalizing normal people who happen to own a gun.




    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Wouldn't it be revolutionary - shocking, even - if we took all the money we could be spending on lawsuits over pointless, feel-good legislation or awareness campaigns that guns can kill people if we let sociopaths have them, and instead actually used it to help the one demographic that is consistent in every one of these shootings; the mentally ill.
    Yes, it would be revolutionary and good. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't also tighten up the laws on who can have access to assault guns does it? That's what we did here in Australia in the nineties, after the Port Arthur massacre which is still one of the deadliest shootings worldwide committed by a single person. 
    Australians reacted to the event with widespread shock and horror, and the political effects were significant and long-lasting. The Federal Government led state governments, some of which (notably Tasmania itself and Queensland) were opposed to new gun laws, to severely restrict the availability of firearms. While surveys showed up to 85% of Australians 'supported gun control', many people strongly opposed the new laws.....Under federal government co-ordination all states and territories of Australia banned and heavily restricted the legal ownership and use of self-loading rifles, self-loading and pump-action shotguns, and heavily tightened controls on their legal use. The government initiated a "buy-back" scheme with the owners paid according to a table of valuations. Some 643,000 firearms were handed in at a cost of $350 million which was funded by a temporary increase in the Medicare levy which raised $500 million.[18] Media, activists, politicians and some family members of victims, notably Walter Mikac (who lost his wife and two children), spoke out in favour of the changes.
    Since then there have been considerably less mass murders and gun deaths and injuries taking place over here, so why shouldn't the same kind of gun policy work in America? 

    I read somewhere that every 5 minutes in America someone is shot with a gun and that 80% of all gun shootings and injuries worldwide occur in America. So an American will probably have been shot while I was typing this comment and another will be shot every time it is read. The gun politics in Australia still allows 5.2% of Australian adults (765,000 people) to own and use firearms for purposes such as hunting, controlling feral animals, collecting, and target shooting and the gun death and injury toll has reduced enormously. That means that there are now hundreds of Australians, both adults and little children who are still able to enjoy their lives but who would have been killed in the last decade if the Australian gun laws hadn't been improved.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    UvaE
    I read somewhere that every 5 minutes in America someone is shot with a gun...
    There were  14,612 murders in the US in 2011, not all by guns. But let's just pretend that they were all gun-homicides. In a year there are 365.25 days * 24h/day*60 minutes/h =  525960 minutes, which is equal to 14,612 murders/525960 minutes or an average of 0.02778158035 murder per minute . Multiply that by 5 minutes, and you only get 0.14 murders per five minutes, not one!


    So why do people keep quoting that number? It's not even close to the truth. There were 6 times as many rapes as homicides. So there's almost 1 rape every 5 minutes, but 83 425 rapes /311 591 197 population * 100 000 people = 27 per 100 000 of population. There are similar rates in Belgium and Britain and much higher rates in Sweden and South Africa, but apparently the Swedes record rape incidences differently, distorting their stats.
    Returning to homicides, certain urban areas in the US inflate the averages. But there are entire states like New Hampshire, Vermont, Maine and South Dakota that are much safer than any major Canadian city, which rarely get a bad rap from the media.
    Gerhard Adam
    While I'm not defending the use of such statistical anecdotes, the problem is that you're assuming that "someone is shot with a gun" is the same things as "murder". 

    So, if someone claims that every 5 minutes, someone is shot with a gun, you would need to include accidents, suicides, murders, and non-fatal injuries.  It's certainly misleading in what it implies, but that's likely where that quoted number comes from.
    Mundus vult decipi
    UvaE
    True. She did write "shot" and not "shot and killed", so I'll be right back with the number of actual shootings!
    UvaE
    from http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/homicide.htm I was able to get 2009 stats. There were about 11000 firearms homicides and about 18 000 people who shot themselves to death. Non-fatal gun injuries amounted to about 78 000 (prior year). So that's an average of  (11000+18000+78000)/525960.00= 0.20 per minute or 1 per five minutes! There you go!

    That's where it comes from; they are including suicides and non-fatalities, which include accidental shootings.
    'So that's an average of (11000+18000+78000)/525960.00= 0.20 per minute or 1 per five minutes! There you go!That's where it comes from; they are including suicides and non-fatalities, which include accidental shootings' Still, If you didn't have such slack gun laws one American would not be being shot every 5 minutes, regardless of whether some kid is accidentally shooting his mother or another is deliberately shooting himself or someone else who dared to walk into his house after he's smoked a spliff and gone completely paranoid.
    .

    Controversial and thought provoking. I tend to agree with the JAMA researchers though. Even countries with a similar gun marketplace to the US' has don't have our gun crime rate. I think the reason is self obvious: Americans like shooting each other. If we didn't like it, we'd stop doing it. It's stylish, like bell bottomed jeans, starched collars, petticoats and men removing their hats when walking indoors were all once stylish. Prohibition should have taught us that you can't legislate morality. Drunk driving laws weren't the genesis of the campaign to reduce DWI, social pressure was. The laws get slapped on by politicians looking to get brownie points. People obey laws for the most part not because there's a law, but because the law corresponds with their internal moral compass.

    The way to reduce gun crimes then (if I'm right) is to make gun crimes as cool as a starched collar.

    AmateurGeologist,

    Clearly, the news and politicians disagree with your notion that the mortality rates from guns are irrelevant, for if they truly believed that then they wouldn't be so eager to quote the inflated numbers.

    Not only are they implying that the (wrong) number is too high, but they are trying to lower the number.

    However, they're not taking into account the number of lives that weapons save. In your example your machine killed one person a year. What if the same machine killed one person, but saved 1000 people a year? Would it be a good machine, or a bad machine?

    Take for example, if I asked you how many people died from the Atomic explosions in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you could spend about 5 minutes on wikipedia, and give me a number. It's easy to determine fatalities (for argument's sake, let's say 140K from the blast, and an additional 2M from nuclear fallout for a total loss of 2.14M people).

    However, if I asked how many people are lived because of the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki prevented a land invasion, you couldn't answer that question. However, if you could quantitatively say 3M, then you would actually have the whole equation. Was nuclear action net positive for society as a whole, or net negative on society as a whole?

    Likewise, quoting the number of deaths is incorrect (especially when it is artificially inflated to push your own political agenda) because it only tells half of the story. Unless you can determine how many lives are saved by weapons each year which you can't.

    Gun control lobbyists like to point out gun fatalities in UK are lower than gun fatalities in the United States; yet they fail to point out that a robber in United States is significantly less likely (13%) to rob an occupied residency than a robber in the UK (50% of home invasions are done while resident is home).

    How many home invasions didn't happen, because the would be perpetrator was unable to determine whether or not the homeowner was armed?

    How many lives were spared because the perpetrator thought there might be a weapon in the house, so he/she waited until it wasn't occupied to commit the robbery?

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Gun control lobbyists like to point out gun fatalities in UK are lower than gun fatalities in the United States; yet they fail to point out that a robber in United States is significantly less likely (13%) to rob an occupied residency than a robber in the UK (50% of home invasions are done while resident is home). How many home invasions didn't happen, because the would be perpetrator was unable to determine whether or not the homeowner was armed? How many lives were spared because the perpetrator thought there might be a weapon in the house, so he/she waited until it wasn't occupied to commit the robbery?
    ...and how many home invasions and burglaries didn't happen in homes with barking dogs and/or highly visible security alarms? How often have Americans accidentally shot their own family members and friends when they mistakenly thought a home invasion was taking place and how many of the home owner's guns have been used by the home invader to shoot the occupants after overpowering them?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    ... "How often have Americans accidentally shot their own family members" . I actually can't find that statistic, I'm pretty sure if it was as high as you think it is it would be readily available. There are approximately 15500 accidental shootings a year.

    Surprisingly, hunting accidents account for only 150 accidental shootings a year. Why so low? Because hunters are familiar with the weapons, have taken safety courses, and are fully aware that they are dealing with a loaded weapon.

    This is opposed to approximately 4.7M dog bites requiring 800,000 hospitalizations a year from "dog bites". By your own philosophy dog aren't exactly a safe alternative.

    In addition, I have no idea what you're trying to prove with your dog comment. Even if act B does a good job performing task C, that does not refute that a claim that act A is also very effective at performing task C.

    Unless you are trying to say, someone that is too irresponsible to treat a gun like it is loaded at all times, would be responsible enough to take care of a living being.

    Gerhard Adam
    Kids and guns don’t mix, especially when those guns are carelessly left in unlocked cabinets or even in plain view. Accidental shootings resulted in 642 deaths in 2009, placing them seventh on this list. Firearms are the second-leading cause of non-natural deaths for kids, typically from a gun the kid finds somewhere around the house, .... About two-thirds of accidental shooting deaths happen in the home, with the kid shooting himself to death in 45 percent of the cases and friends or family members pulling the trigger in the remainder. More than 50 percent of American households have a gun in the house, and, in one survey of evidently careless families, 10 percent said they had loaded firearms in unlocked locations that were easily accessible to kids.
    http://listosaur.com/miscellaneous/top-5-causes-of-accidental-death-in-the-united-states.html
    Surprisingly, hunting accidents account for only 150 accidental shootings a year. Why so low? Because hunters are familiar with the weapons, have taken safety courses, and are fully aware that they are dealing with a loaded weapon.
    While you're correct that the accident rate is quite low, given the number of hunters, let's also recognize that there are some irresponsible people out there.
    http://ihea-usa.org/_assets/documents/Incidents/HIC2007Mar08.pdf
    This is opposed to approximately 4.7M dog bites requiring 800,000 hospitalizations a year from "dog bites". By your own philosophy dog aren't exactly a safe alternative.
    Well, let's not overstate the case.  800,000 dog bites require medical care, NOT hospitalization.  This means nearly 4 million "bites" that required no medical attention, which suggests that they weren't very significant [probably dependent on what qualifies as a bite].   This is especially relevant when one considers that often small dog bites may not even penetrate the skin.  Using those statistics would be like including pellet gun statistics in evaluating firearms.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    But the authors aren't doing themselves any favors, or us, by massaging the statistics to make their case - they note 30,000 'deaths' per year involving guns but don't point out that gun use in suicides is 160% of gun use in homicides.
    Does no one actually read any more?  From the JAMA article:
    Each year in the United States, more than 30 000 individuals are killed by guns1 (homicides, suicides, and unintentional fatalities)—85 deaths per day plus many hundreds of nonfatal injuries. Gun homicide alone causes 11 000 deaths each year,...
    http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1556167
    Massaging statistics?  Not pointing out the homicide versus suicide rates? 

    Then let's talk about a "feel-good" argument.  Focusing on mental health is certainly a requirement, but what's the point if background checks aren't required in every gun transaction?  Since federal law only requires a background check be conducted by a licensed gun dealer, that leaves plenty of opportunities for guns to be purchased without any check at all.  If we're really concerned about keeping guns out of the hands of felons and the mentally ill, then we need to stop this kind of nonsense.

    From the NRA we get this:
    Previous federal studies have found few criminals using gun shows. A 2000 BJS study, “Federal Firearms Offenders, 1992-98,” found only 1.7% of federal prison inmates obtained their gun from a gun show.6 Similarly, a 1997 National Institute of Justice study reported less than 2% of criminals’ guns come from gun shows.
    http://www.nraila.org/news-issues/fact-sheets/2008/the-gun-show-myth.aspx
    Well, that's a relief.  It's only a few.

    Of course, we also have 74,000 guns reported stolen during a three year period [2008-2010], with 23% of those recovered, so that only leaves 50,000+ weapons unaccounted for.  Unfortunately such reporting is only required for licensed dealers, so there are no figures available for stolen weapons from private citizens.
    http://www.atf.gov/statistics/ffl-theft-loss-reports/FFL-theft-loss-statistics-01122012-update-ii.pdf

    Whether anyone wants to dispute the statistics associated with gun theft, the problem isn't that guns are stolen.  It's the complete lunacy of not requiring a gun owner to report the theft.  The individual that shot firemen responding to a fire he had set, allegedly obtained his weapons from a woman that originally claimed they were stolen, but she neglected to report that. 

    It should be obvious that weapons cannot be banned.  It is both unconstitutional in the U.S., and physically impossible from the general distribution of these weapons.  It simply wouldn't work, regardless of whether anyone finds the idea attractive or not.

    However, let's not pretend that we can do anything about mentally ill individuals if we don't actually do anything to identify such individuals, and do something to control the ease of access to guns.  Similarly, we don't have to ban guns to disallow large capacity magazines.  Despite the NRA, no one is going to use a rifle with a large capacity magazine to defend their home.

    We also need to stop rationalizing our love affair with guns, and then claim that it's only the "other guy" that is irresponsible.  The fact of the matter is that the Newtown shooting occurred because we had a mentally ill individual that had legal access to these guns [through his mother] and if we accept the argument that these guns were for home defense, then we can confidently state that they were NOT locked up.  This is simply unacceptable.

    If an individual proposes to keep a weapon for defense, then they must either have it with them, or be capable of accounting for its whereabouts.  Every soldier or police officer has such a requirement when they are issued or responsible for a weapon, and it should be no different for civilians.

    In short, if you don't need it immediately, then it should be secured.  If you need it for protection then it should be in your possession.  Leaving an unsecured, loaded weapon lying about for anyone to have access to [or steal] is not responsible gun ownership.

    If you can't be bothered to get a concealed carry permit for protection, then I'm not particularly interested in hearing about how you need it for your home.  There is no reason why we can't have gun ownership with rules and ensure that we enforce the need to take such a responsibility seriously.

    So, if everyone is serious about the mental health angle, then it requires more than lip service and throwing money at it.  Even a mentally ill adult cannot be compelled to take medications, nor be locked up.  As we saw in Newtown, if the people around that individual aren't also responsible, then it makes little difference whether gun laws or controls are in place. 

    As with anything, some gun owners are responsible, and some are idiots.  In addition, if we're going to realistically talk about home defense, and how many lives may be saved by the presence of guns.  Consider the following statistics.

    Of all the homicides, only 14% involved strangers [although about 30% were of undetermined relationship].  This means that for all the proverbial protection offered by guns, the reality is that you have a 50% change of being murdered by someone you know or are related to.
    http://bjs.ojp.usdoj.gov/content/homicide/relationship.cfm


    Mundus vult decipi
    We cannot "confidentially" say the mother was not responsible. How do you know he did not spy on her to find the key or combination? Seems a more likely explanation.

    Also the single mom angle is a little overdone. The shooter was an adult of 20. They were married until he was nearly 18, and the father continued to live nearby and completely supported his son financially.

    Hank
    I admire your impartiality. Most people who are anti-gun also would be pretty angry if someone blamed the female victim and excused the male criminal that way. 
    Sorry, I meant "confidently", not "confidentially". Hank, I don't understand your comment. I am not impartial, I think it is wrong to blame the mother, since we don't know the whole story. He was super smart, he may have tricked her, deceived her to get access to the guns. By all accounts she was a responsible person in every other way. As far as mental health awareness, well yes, we need it but not this focus on labeling people. We need to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, rather than create new reasons to hide it.

    John Hasenkam
    How about some mental health awareness? People assume that mental illness is confined to some specific set of individuals. Look at the data: 1 in 5 people will experience problems with depression in their life, 46% of USA citizens will experience significant anxiety events in their life. Mental health is variable, it can become a problem for a great many people. 
    What frustrates me is how the analysis stops at "he has a mental illness". How about some consideration for why so many mentally ill people are going postal over recent years? Here's one consideration. Some months ago I looked up some data on suicides and economics: the pattern is clearl, in one Aus study it held from 1910-1990: the worse the economic conditions, the higher the suicide rate, and the fact is many of these mass murderers are engaging in "revenge suicide". The USA has the widest distribution of wealth, by far, than any of the developed nations, which means those struggling struggle more in the USA than other countries. No, not advocating more welfare but suggesting that there are cultural issues here that need more consideration. I know many people won't go down that road because apparently if you are on USA soil you imbibe some "exceptionalism" which makes you so unique as to be beyond questioning that dynamics of your culture. Maybe the USA should adopt some Aussie cynicism, we are more than happy to have a go at ourselves. 
    Hank
    Americans have plenty of loathing, we just do it about other people. ha ha

    These are good points, but that is why I encourage not going after the feel-good fallacy and a whole lot of money wasted to do little and tackling what may work - fixing a disease and not a symptom.

    Certainly our bad economy is a factor in crime but this latest bit was a 20 year old guy who was just unbalanced. That is straight up mental health. His mom was worried about him, she home schooled him because she believed the school district was wrong about him - so she got a kid who stayed home all day resenting when she left at all. 

    It isn't a problem that was just invented by guns. It's also the plot of "Psycho" from the 1950s.
    "In short, if you don't need it immediately, then it should be secured. If you need it for protection then it should be in your possession. Leaving an unsecured, loaded weapon lying about for anyone to have access to [or steal] is not responsible gun ownership."

    That sounds good... in theory... "Just carry it with you IF you need it... *evil laugh*" The problem is, the gun control lobby makes it very difficult for a lot of citizens to carry a weapon with them. (My sister was working at a nuclear plant.... can't take her weapon to work... when her house was broken into and her 9mm was stolen)

    "If you can't be bothered to get a concealed carry permit for protection, then I'm not particularly interested in hearing about how you need it for your home. There is no reason why we can't have gun ownership with rules and ensure that we enforce the need to take such a responsibility seriously."

    Concealed carry... is for... wait for it... concealed carry. That's like saying, if you don't have a driver's license, you shouldn't be allowed to ride the bus... they're different things. That's aside from overlooking the fact that multiple states are starting to use unjustifiably large "concealed carry" licensing fees to discourage people from "concealed carrying"... just another backdoor way the anti-gun lobby is trying to infringe on the second amendment right.

    If anything, you should make an argument for hunters safety training, not concealed carry; because to be quite honest, most concealed carry is about the legal obligations of concealed carry, and less about safe operation.

    "We also need to stop rationalizing our love affair with guns, and then claim that it's only the "other guy" that is irresponsible. The fact of the matter is that the Newtown shooting occurred because we had a mentally ill individual that had legal access to these guns [through his mother] and if we accept the argument that these guns were for home defense, then we can confidently state that they were NOT locked up. This is simply unacceptable"

    Actually, he didn't have "legal access", just check the atf website.

    http://www.atf.gov/firearms/faq/unlicensed-persons.html

    Gerhard Adam
    Whatever the present laws are, isn't particularly relevant, since the point is to discuss what should be done to try and avoid issues like this in the future.  Clearly there is an effort to evaluate the laws and conditions of gun ownership, so regardless of the pro or anti-gun lobbies, these are still issues that can be addressed.
    Actually, he didn't have "legal access", just check the atf website.
    Now you're splitting hairs, because the point is that since his mother had a legal right to the firearms.  So, the point is that the guns were legal in her household and consequently despite being mentally ill, there would have been no means for anyone to do background checks or ensure that he couldn't get a weapon.

    There are no conditions listed on the ATF site that suggest anything illegal in accessing these weapons.  I don't believe he was adjudicated as being mentally defective, so under what criteria are you claiming that he didn't have legal access?
    Concealed carry... is for... wait for it... concealed carry.
    Yes ... it is intended for those individuals that wish to carry firearms.  If you are separated from your weapon, for whatever reason, then it must be secured and obviously cannot serve as protection.  It also becomes more clear how preposterous the notion of an AR-15 for personal protection is.  Even more importantly, it is difficult to rationalize how multiple weapons serve the purpose of "protection", nevertheless, it appears that they weren't very well secured.
    ...when her house was broken into and her 9mm was stolen.
    Obviously one can't stop all thefts, but I won't ask where the 9mm was when it was stolen.  Presumably she reported the theft.

    So, we encounter one of the obvious contradictions regarding responsible gun ownership.  Supposedly, Nancy Lanza had a gun safe in the basement that she used to secure her guns.  However, it is equally obvious that a gun locked in a safe isn't much protection, so I expect [like many gun owners], the weapon(s) were not properly secured.

    We can't have it both ways.  If guns are intended for protection, then they must be available to the individual for use.  In which case, the individual has a direct responsibility to be in possession of the weapon at all times.  If they are not using it, then it should be secured.  It's really not very complicated.  The problem is that too many gun owners simply want to have loaded weapons readily accessible for protection, which obviously requires that the weapon cannot be secured.
    Findings indicate that ∼1.69 million (95% confidence interval: 1.57–1.82 million) children and youth in the United States <18 years old are living with loaded and unlocked household firearms.
    http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/116/3/e370.full?maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&fulltext=Gun+Storage+and+Children&searchid=1126214241140_16213&stored_search=&FIRSTINDEX=0&sortspec=relevance&journalcode=pediatrics
    This provides a strong indication of what the problem actually is.

    In response too many gun owners talk about how responsible they are by ensuring their children don't access the weapons without permission, and how they've trained their children to use weapons responsibly.  This is clearly irrelevant, since these shootings are not the result of incompetence with guns. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    How do you make the quotes?

    Yes she reported the theft, and her weapon was recovered.

    "Whatever the present laws are, isn't particularly relevant, since the point is to discuss what should be done to try and avoid issues like this in the future. Clearly there is an effort to evaluate the laws and conditions of gun ownership, so regardless of the pro or anti-gun lobbies, these are still issues that can be addressed."

    The current laws are relevant. We don't re-evaluate the speed limits or the legal BAC requirements every time there is a DUI lethality. These situations raise the question, "what is being done and what should be done". In order to know what should be done, you need to address what is already being done.

    Gerhard Adam
    We don't re-evaluate the speed limits or the legal BAC requirements every time there is a DUI lethality.
    You're not serious in making that comparison.  DUI's also do not result in national news coverage and pressure on politicians to do something.  So, regardless of what happens to DUI's, you can be assured that these gun issues are going to be re-evaluated.

    As a result, it is germane to consider whether laws should be changed, to potentially resolve some of the issues you raise, or to set standards, etc.  That's why I indicated that in the light of such a discussion, one can't simply complain about how things currently are and presume that they can't or won't change. 
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    How do you make the quotes?
    Not sure what you mean?  Do you mean the indentations?
    Mundus vult decipi
    Quentin Rowe

    Great Article Hank.

    I need some feedback to help me understand the effect of Hollywood and guns in the USA'in physocology. For example, when I see a locally made movie here in little 'ol New Zealand, one that involves violence that is, I have quite a different response to that of an equivalent Hollywood production.

    If there is a car chase it strikes me as reckless, obviously illegal, and very dangerous, to the point where I can easily assess the likelihood of death or injury. Afterall, I can walk or drive down the very street they are filming in and therefore know all the dangers present. When it comes to Hollywood movies, I feel no such concerns, as it is somewhere else, or more importantly, no-where else other than pure fantasy.

    Local movies involving violent murder disturb me deeply, making me feel very uncomfortable. It seems to me as though it could happen to me because it is 'closer to home' so to speak.

    In Hollywood, they have mastered the art of trivializing murder. My favourite example would be Mr & Mrs Smith, in which the body count was horrendous, but managed to be pulled off in a light hearted & romantic manner. Imagine one of the goons from this movie returning home to his wife after a hards days shooting:

    'How was your day, honey?'

    'Oh, terrible! John, Billy, Scott, Rodger, Reg and Darryn got shot & killed. All 12 members of 'B' squad are dead, but I didn't really know them that well, so I guess it doesn't matter. I know the pay's good, but I'm really starting to get de-motivated. I'm sick of the boss underestimating our opposition! To top it off, I've got to get another new suit - the 9th one this year.'

    'That's a shame dear - perhaps you should start looking for a job in banking instead?'

    OK, I digress, but what I would like to know is: Most Hollywood movies are portrayed in a California setting, so when you see such movies, do they feel as 'close to home' to you as they do to me?

    Hank
    No, but when I lived in Pittsburgh I did, for the same reason you describe - it was more intimate and real. In California, you see so many of the same locations you can recognize them.  The same goes for New York City.

    Like I say in the article, clearly media has an effect; guitar companies advertise rock stars in their ads because they want young people to think a guitar will make them a rock star and gun companies market too. But movies and video games are a different animal, and we can't blame guns for deaths any more than it was right to blame Dungeons&Dragons for deaths in the 1980s, even though gaming was implicated then too. We didn't outlaw swords.

    We spend a lot of effort curbing the rights of sane people to stamp out deviancy, but you can't legislate away evil any more than you cure it.

    The reason sensible gun laws are met with resistance are the same reasons sensible abortion laws are. America is the only developed country that allows late-term abortion on demand, for example. Australia doesn't have it, no country in Europe does. But pro-choice advocates are entrenched on any sensible abortion measure (at the federal level) because they worry about a slippery slope to a ban. So it goes with federal laws on guns. Individual states have plenty of restrictions on guns but a federal ban on high-capacity ammo clips is going to be fought for those same slippery slope reasons.
    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Australia doesn't have it, no country in Europe does. But pro-choice advocates are entrenched on any sensible abortion measure (at the federal level) because they worry about a slippery slope to a ban. So it goes with federal laws on guns. Individual states have plenty of restrictions on guns but a federal ban on high-capacity ammo clips is going to be fought for those same slippery slope reasons.
    Well. if other countries can put in place sensible abortion and gun laws, not without a struggle of course, then so can America and I would say that now is the time. You just have to imagine those poor little kindergarten children's bodies riddled with bullets and what was going through their minds as they died and I think you will agree that this is a fight worth fighting. Tightening up American gun laws would help to protect future innocents from such appalling deaths and injuries caused by mentally ill people with assault rifles and guns, so how can any sane person argue with that? Recently Gun politics in Australia brought about the following :- 
    Current Australian firearm laws 
    State laws govern the possession and use of firearms in Australia. These laws were largely aligned under the 1996 National Agreement on Firearms. Anyone wishing to possess or use a firearm must have a Firearms Licence and, with some exceptions, be over the age of 18. Owners must have secure storage for their firearms. 
    Before someone can buy a firearm, he or she must obtain a Permit To Acquire. The first permit has a mandatory 28-day delay before it is first issued. In some states (e.g., Queensland, Victoria, and New South Wales), this is waived for second and subsequent firearms of the same class. For each firearm a "Genuine Reason" must be given, relating to pest control, hunting, target shooting, or collecting. Self-defence is not accepted as a reason for issuing a license, even though it may be legal under certain circumstances to use a legally held firearm for self-defence. Each firearm in Australia must be registered to the owner by serial number. Some states allow an owner to store or borrow another person's registered firearm of the same category. 

    Firearms categories

    Firearms in Australia are grouped into Categories with different levels of control. The categories are:

    • Category BCentrefire rifles (not semi-automatic), muzzleloading firearms made after 1 January 1901. Apart from a "Genuine Reason", a "Genuine Need" must be demonstrated, including why a Category A firearm would not be suitable.
    • Category C: Semi-automatic rimfire rifles holding 10 or fewer rounds and pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding 5 or fewer rounds. Category C firearms are strongly restricted: only primary producers, occupational shooters, collectors and some clay target shooters can own functional Category C firearms.
    • Category D: Semi-automatic centrefire rifles, pump-action or semi-automatic shotguns holding more than 5 rounds. Functional Category D firearms are restricted to government agencies and a few occupational shooters. Collectors may own deactivated Category D firearms.
    • Category HHandguns including air pistols and deactivated handguns. This class is available to target shooters. To be eligible for a Category H firearm, a target shooter must serve a probationary period of six months using club handguns, and a minimum number of matches yearly to retain each category of handgun.
    Target shooters are limited to handguns of .38 or 9mm calibre or less and magazines may hold a maximum of 10 rounds. Participants in certain "approved" pistol competitions may acquire handguns up to .45", currently Single Action Shooting and Metallic Silhouette. IPSC shooting is approved for 9mm/.38/.357 handguns that meet the IPSC rules, but larger calibers are not approved for IPSC handgun shooting contests. Category H barrels must be at least 100mm (3.94") long for revolvers, and 120mm (4.72") for semi-automatic pistols unless the pistols are clearly ISSF target pistols: magazines are restricted to 10 rounds. Handguns held as part of a collection were exempted from these limits.
    If gun owners in America are really so scared of a slippery slope towards a complete gun ban, then they just need to be very proactive during the new gun laws legislative process, to protect the rights of responsible gun owners to still own and use their guns. Maybe the American gun laws don't need to be as stringent as these current Australian gun laws but surely most people would agree that they definitely do still need tightening?
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    miles

    In the Philippines there is revival of the cry for total gun ban by a group who pushes for a gunless society.  This revival is due to series of death incidents involving guns. During the new year's eve a stray bullet took the life of a child and  more stray bullets were found that injured some, then there was this rub-out shootings on criminal suspects, a random gun firing in Luzon that killed a number of innocent people.  In spite of these incidents and the cry for a total gun ban, the Philippine President ,who is a gun enthusiast ,expressed his disagreement. I agree with the president on this matter in line with the argument that it will be unfair to those law abiding people to deprive them of guns for self-defense.
    camilo



    But the authors aren't doing themselves any favors, or us, by massaging the statistics to make their case - they note 30,000 'deaths' per year involving guns but don't point out that gun use in suicides is 160% of gun use in homicides. It is charming to think that gun awareness campaigns will stop suicide but that is not going to pass muster among an intelligent audience - an intelligent audience goes right back to mental health funding. Almost as many people suffocate themselves to death as are murdered involving guns and 'gun homicide' statistics include criminals who are shot by the police, which is not really the same thing as murder due to Hollywood gun culture."

    Well, although it is true that somebody who wants to commit a suicide will commit a suicide even without access to a gun, the same does not apply to homicides. A gun is much more efficient than a knife, for example, so somebody with mental illness can kill more people before being made inoffensive, if he/she has a gun instead of a knife. So, making the purchase of guns in the US as complicated as it is in most of Europe, for example, would decrease the power of the specific category of mentally ill to do harm. You point out correctly that targeting the mentally ill would be more effective, but you can never find them all out in time (in several cases, nobody had hints that they were mentally ill until they shot people in their school).
    You mention death by being shot by police: maybe you will be surprised to know that in Europe this is extremely rare (at the point that when this happens the national media give prime time to the episode for quite a long time), and the reason is quite evident: police has to shoot first when the criminal has a high probability to have a gun. Sure, our criminals have guns quite often too, but if you see somebody breaking into a house in the middle of the night in Europe, the chances are high that the guy has no gun (although he/she may have some other kind of weapon, usually less lethal) so there is no need to shoot him down; I suppose that in the US it is a fair bet for a policeman to assume that the "bad guy" has a gun.
    A frequent anecdote told by Europeans traveling by car through the US is a variant of the following: after trespassing the speed limit, being forced by police to stop, and noticing that the policeman has his hand on his gun (this scares the hell out of anybody who is not used to that; I would shit my pants, for example). Years ago I even read the story of such a European tourist who was shot by a policeman because, upon request to show the driving license, he made a gesture that the policeman interpreted as reaching a gun (he was instead just reaching the wallet with the driving license).
    I know that several advocated of free access to guns argue that it is convenient for the "good guys" to have guns to avoid that only the "bad guys" have them, but I can assure that living in a place where there are less guns around, and almost only bad guys and police bother to use them, is not bad at all.

    Hank
    Hi Andrea,

    I don't know where you live so I can try to put America in context. The Swiss have a terrific number of guns and little gun violence - they had a shooting a short while ago and it made news because it is rare.  Italy bans guns and yet is #2 in Europe in gun violence.  The UK bans guns and leads the developed world in violent crime, holding the top 3 spots with England, Wales and Scotland.  But they think America has a violence problem because people own guns.

    500 people a year die here due to rifles. Let's assume 'assault rifles' are not worth banning for a country of 300 million people just due to that, we can save a lot more lives banning plenty of other things. But there are a lot more deaths using handguns and those require both a registration and a waiting period for citizens.  Criminals can't legally buy them.
     
    And that is the sticky part. Criminals will apparently get them anyway, so will eliminating a local supply stop them?  The cities with the highest gun rates of gun crime ban guns - New York City and Chicago - while California, the most populated state, had a 25% drop in gun violence despite having 2X as many guns in 10 years.  Culture may be a factor more than gun availability.

    So clearly criminals in Chicago are going somewhere else to get handguns but they are not buying them legally. Perhaps they are buying them at a gun show, ans tighter controls there may be a way to curb gun crime.  What seems obvious is that if we just ban them, criminals will still get them (from Mexico or wherever). Making criminals have to work a lot harder would seem to be worthwhile.

    For the non-career criminals, like the school tragedy in Connecticut, that is a mental health issue. Yes, the guy in China, where guns are banned, who attacked a school the same day used a knife and killed fewer people, but he could have killed them easily. Kids are small and therefore tragically easy to kill with a knife or anything else.  Had he wanted to kill them, he would have.

    So giving the same attention to mental health we give to the flu would make sense - instead, we went through a period where we acted like mental health is just harmless depression because we did not want to demonize mentally ill people. But the fact that all of these sociopaths had mental health issues that warranted medication says there is a solution that makes sense using the public health system.
    (Sigh, I failed the quoting.)

    Hi Hank, thanks for replying.
    You are right in making a very sharp distinction between the case of murders by sociopaths (which are anyway extremely rare in any society) and the case of normal crime.
    About the latter: you are certainly right in saying that other aspects drive crime rates much more than gun control.
    I was born and lived the first 23 years of my life in Italy (even worse, in Sicily, which is one of the worst regions in terms of crime) and it is true that we have a problem with crime. I currently live in France but at the border with Switzerland (essentially in the suburbs of Geneva) and it is true also that in Switzerland one feels very safe, despite (and not because of) the presence of a rifle in every house with an adult male (because of the peculiar military service system).
    In case you are interested in how different cultures react to the same problem, I can tell with some confidence that although people in Italy (according to the polls) feel generally that there is a big problem with crime, and it is indeed one of the leading points in most electoral campaigns, almost no people in Italy propose to solve the problem by encouraging "good people" to defend themselves, while consensus is that the State should do something. This is close to the typical Swiss way of thinking (defense is police's job), despite many cultural differences between the two countries (not to mention a huge difference in wealth, which is probably the leading reason for the difference in crime rates), and might hint at some deep cultural difference between America and at least part of Europe in the psychological relationship between individuals and State. Which is something that is often mentioned although it strikes me as weird, because I don't think that the State is so bad in the US (but of course I might be wrong, I never lived there).
    About the completely different case of sociopaths and other outliers (which is the topic of your post), I stand on my point that having less lethal weapons around a sociopath (e.g., a smaller probability that the mother of a sociopath, by totally legal ways and for legitimate reasons, has a gun in the house) would do more good than bad, and would not disrupt society in the process. True, people killed by sociopaths are way less than people killed in car accidents, or drowning in their pools while swimming, etc., so there are other priorities. Indeed I would not advocate tighter gun control because sometimes a rare murderous event happens; I totally agree with you that policy should not be driven by the headlines of the newspapers.
    I advocate gun control (more or less at the same level as it is in several European countries, including Italy despite its crime rate) because I bet that the following are not so rare:
    1) accidental killing of innocents (e.g. children finding dad's gun and playing with that)
    2) intentional killing of innocents by scared individuals (policemen are specifically trained to recognize the bad guys even under stress; normal citizens are not)
    3) intentional killing of criminals who were anyway not intentioned to do any physical harm (which is bad too; excess of self defense is indeed a crime in most modern countries, and again policemen are better trained to avoid that).
    Still, this may be less frequent than car accidents; but while somebody thinks about how to decrease car accidents, it may not hurt if somebody else in parallel thinks about how to decrease gun accidents.
    (Again, just for the sake of mentioning cultural differences, it is likely that in some European countries some proposal like "to decrease car accidents, we should encourage people to take public transportation" has been already made...)

    Maybe arms use can't be banned.

    what about banning ammunition???

    Hank
    Either way, it will never pass the Supreme Court. The obvious solution is to amend the Constitution. If all those people that activists say want guns banned want guns banned, it should pass quickly.
    Gerhard Adam
    I expect that there is one major cultural difference in the U.S. versus most other countries, and that is the notion that guns are necessary to protect themselves from the government.  Although home protection is an important ingredient, if you scratch the surface of many of the gun enthusiasts, you find a fantasy notion that guns are to protect themselves from tyranny.

    Even hearing some of these advocates pursue that kind of logic, often makes one wish to extend the definition of mental illness.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Hank (a bit off topic but it's hard to contact you)
    i.e. no response to email or phone message

    Science 2.0 seems to be advocating suicide.
    See Sascha Vongehr's Science 2.0 blog Alpha Meme.

    Read Sascha post New-Year Resolution: Should I Kill Myself In 2013
    I would be less concerned if he allowed my comments (as OKThen) to stand but Sascha deleted both comments as well as his own response.

    As well follow the links from Sascha's profile to his post Global Suicide: No Singularity, Just Evolution of Deadly Rationality
    follow Sascha's link Inst. Ethics Emergent Tech

    Despite Sascha's intellectual pretentions regarding both articles; I believe that on first and second glance both articles encourage and trivialize suicide. Thus I have two concerns:
    1) Sascha (i.e. all suicide talk must be taken seriously)
    2) Sascha's influence includes young students such as those he teaches at National Laboratory of Solid State Microstructures (first link on his science 2.0 profile). Just scroll down until you see the picture of Sascha and his young students.

    According to Science 2.0's terms of use (for e.g. Sascha Vongehr alphe meme) Prohibited Use of the Site includes:
    "You further agree that You will not... (iii) transmit any.. threatening, or harmful material of any kind... that encourages conduct that could... give rise to civil liability..."

    Hmm, I think trivializing and encouraging suicide (of oneself or others) is "transmitting harmful material" and "could give rise to civil liability"!

    I'm not a lawyer; but if were the founder of Science 2.0; I would not tolerate posting and linking to such articles on my site.
    Please remove both post and link.

    Gerhard Adam
    You're precisely the problem in this type of discussion.

    First, you presume that people are so irrational that they can be talked into committing suicide, while completely failing to recognize that those seriously contemplating such a course aren't likely to be reading about it.

    Suicide isn't the problem.  If the issue is people that are mentally ill or unbalanced, then the issue is to afford treatment to those people.  Simply behaving as if suicide isn't on anyone's radar is the height of irresponsibility.

    While I don't know your specific position, I find it ironic that people can balk at controls aimed at reining in violence against others, so there's apparently no conflict in talking about guns or weapons in the commission of violence.  However, when the topic is suicide [despite it's overwhelming influence on such violence] then the links and posts should be deleted as if the topic doesn't exist.

    Once thing that is clear, is that you have completely failed to understand the nature of Sascha's posts, but more importantly that you have failed to recognize the importance of the topic.

    Suicide is not, by definition, an irrational choice.  To suggest otherwise is an intolerable form of tyranny over another individual's choices.  To suggest that there are topics that are beyond the ability of science or philosophy to address .... well, the mind boggles.
    Mundus vult decipi
    Gerhard Adam
    One thing notably absent from this discussion, is the presumption that the violence is a specifically targeted act instead of a secondary consequence.  In short, I'm proposing that many of these acts are simply outrageous suicides, since it appears that most of the perpetrators expected to either be killed or kill themselves.  As a result, it may well be an effort to simply make their own suicide more media worthy.
    Mundus vult decipi