Guns and dementia

From WebMD: “A new survey looks at access to guns by people with dementia.It finds that caregivers images-1and family members of people being checked for problems with thinking didn’t consistently remove guns from their homes or keep them locked up.The study underlines the need for doctors to ask caregivers if they have guns in the home and, if so, advise them on safety measures to take, the researchers say.In the United States, there is “a significant presence of firearms in the homes of patients with dementia, and many of these patients suffer from delusions and hallucinations, some of which can be paranoid, persecutory, or hostile,” says Jason Hsieh, a medical student at Cleveland Clinic Lerner School of Medicine.The results were presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) 2014.

“In the U.S., 27% percent of people over the age of 65 own a firearm, Hsieh says. “In general, almost 40% of households in the U.S. contain a firearm, and surprisingly, in households with a firearm, the average number of firearms is 6.6,” he says.The elderly have the highest suicide rate of any part of the population, and firearms are the most common, as well as the most fatal, method of suicide. Data from the National Trauma Databank show that as people get older, the proportion of gun injuries that are self-inflicted rises. Other data show that as they age, people are less likely to survive a gunshot and less likely to return home after recovery.

“In addition to suicide, elderly individuals can be the victim of homicide, and this often happens from their caregiver,” Hsieh says. “Most of these events happen at home, and again, just like suicide, using a firearm is the most common method.”Also, it’s been shown that caregivers, families, and loved ones with dementia often don’t remove guns from the home as the dementia gets worse, he sayThe concern comes from the fact that people with dementia more frequently behave aggressively than those without it. Increasing dementia is linked with worsening agitation and aggression, along with delusions – particularly, mistaking a person for someone else, he says.Included in this analysis were 495 people, with an average age of nearly 80. Most of the patients were women (63%).Of the group, 378 (77%) qualified for a diagnosis of dementia, and 64% were already diagnosed with depression or qualified as depressed, the researchers say. Continue reading “Guns and dementia”

Guns and mental illness

imgresLawmakers who refuse to support effective gun safety measures often prefer to talk about better screening of the mentally ill to identify deranged would-be perpetrators before they can carry out mass shootings. As a New York Times Op Ed entry today reads:

“This is, of course, a political dodge. Even in the handful of states where law enforcement agencies are trying to confiscate the guns of unstable individuals, state and federal laws too often enable the mentally ill to reclaim their guns as a right under the Second Amendment.

“In Connecticut, which has gun confiscation laws that were tightened after the Newtown school massacre, an angry man who was off his medications for paranoid schizophrenia threatened to shoot his mother and the police if they confiscated his weapons. The police managed to seize his 18 rifles and shotguns and seven high-capacity magazines. But the man expects to reclaim his arsenal in April, asserting he is back on his medications and has had no further police incidents (although he told Michael Luo and Mike McIntire of The Times that he has experienced paranormal activities).

“Similar cases from other states and cities show that seriously troubled individuals are able to reclaim their weapons, despite serious concerns about the threat to public safety. “There is no common-sense middle ground to protect the public,” a law enforcement adviser in Ohio warned.

“Most mentally ill persons are not violent, though The Times’s analysis of 180 confiscation cases in Connecticut (dealing with people posing an imminent risk of injury to themselves or others) found that close to 40 percent of those cases involved people with serious mental illness. The common denominator in gun violence, however, is not deranged individuals; it is the easy access to assault rifles and other high-powered weapons afforded all Americans. A few determined states are attempting to deal with this issue, but real solutions must involve federal legislation and national standards, which are nowhere in sight.”

More at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/29/opinion/sunday/when-the-mentally-ill-own-guns.html

Guns and freedom

The day after this week’s elections, the National Rifle Association got exactly what it wanted: a front-page New York Times story about Colorado results that supposedly send “lawmakers across the country a warning about the political risks of voting for tougher gun laws.”images-1  In These Time writes that the article, and many others like it, “came after the gun lobby mounted successful recall campaigns against two state legislators who, in the wake of mass shootings, voted for universal background checks, limits on the capacity of bullet magazines and restrictions on domestic abusers owning firearms.
“Despite the recalls being anomalously low-turnout affairs, the national media helped the gun lobby deliver a frightening message to politicians: Vote for modest gun control and face political death.
“For all that reductionism, though, there are more nuanced lessons from these elections. First and foremost, with statewide polls showing that most Coloradans support modest gun control and opposed the recall campaigns, the elections prove that in low-turnout situations, a relatively small group of pro-gun voters can still win the day.
“Additionally, with gun extremists issuing threats of violence against pro-gun-control legislators, Colorado Democrats stopped explaining why their gun legislation was so necessary. In light of that, the election results are a reminder that when politicians don’t stay on the message offensive, they quickly find themselves on the electoral defensive. This is especially the case when, as a Pew survey documented, voters who oppose gun control tend to be more motivated single-issue voters than those who support gun control. That intensity gap, of course, is the most significant story of the Colorado elections because it reveals how different people ascribe different meanings to the gun debate.   Continue reading “Guns and freedom”

A boom market for assault rifles

imgres-1Now that the post-Newtown nation has suddenly woken up to the breakout popularity of the AR-15, a host of questions are being asked, especially about who is buying these rifles, and why. Why would normal, law-abiding Americans want to own a deadly weapon that was clearly designed for military use?

These somewhat unsettling questions are taken up in Danger Room: “Why are existing AR-15 owners buying as many of these rifles as they can get their hands on? Are these people Doomsday preppers? Militia types, arming for a second American Civil War? Or are they young military fantasists whose minds have been warped by way too much Call of Duty?

“In the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, the AR-15 has gone from the most popular rifle in America to the most scrutinized and, in some quarters, vilified. Also known in its fully automatic, military incarnation as the M16, the rifle was racking up record sales in the years before Sandy Hook, but now, in the midst of a renewed effort to ban this weapon and others like it from civilian hands, the AR-15 market has gone nuclear, with some gun outlets rumored to have done three years’ worth of sales in the three weeks after Newtown.

“Preppers, militia types, and SEAL Team 6 wannabes are certainly represented in the AR-15′s customer base. But fringe groups don’t adequately explain the roughly 5 million “black rifles” (as fans of the gun tend to call it) that are now in the hands of the public. No, the real secret to the AR-15′s incredible success is that this rifle is the “personal computer” of the gun world.

“In the past two decades, the AR-15 has evolved into an open, modular gun platform that’s infinitely hackable and accessorizable. With only a few simple tools and no gunsmithing expertise, an AR-15 can be heavily modified, or even assembled from scratch, from widely available parts to suit the fancy and fantasy of each individual user. In this respect, the AR-15 is the world’s first “maker” gun, and this is why its appeal extends well beyond the military enthusiasts that many anti-gun types presume make up its core demographic.”

 

Full story at: http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2013/02/ar-15/

Majority back Obama on guns

imgresSurvey results just in say the majority of the U.S. population supports President Obama’s wide-ranging proposals to reduce gun violence

“Americans’ immediate reaction to President Barack Obama’s proposals for new laws designed to reduce gun violence is more positive than negative, with 53% saying they would want their representative in Congress to vote for the set of proposed new laws, while 41% say their representative should vote against them,” says the Gallup organization

“These results are from Gallup polling conducted Thursday, Jan. 17, the day after Obama’s announcement. The question asked Americans about the “set” of new laws, even though in reality, to the extent the House and the Senate pursue these proposals, it could be on a one-by-one basis. The results suggest that Obama begins his campaign for passage of the laws with a majority — but not a supermajority — of the public behind him.

“The question explicitly identified the gun proposals as those that President Obama announced on Wednesday, making it not surprising to find that the strongest support for the proposals comes among Democrats and liberals, and the weakest support comes among Republicans and conservatives. Additionally, groups that traditionally lean more Democratic — nonwhites, Easterners, and those with postgraduate educations — are significantly above average in support. Continue reading “Majority back Obama on guns”

Difficulties in predicting violent acts

Only a severely disturbed individual marches into an elementary school or a movie theater and guns down innocent people.

But how can society stop such people in time to avert tragedy?This question now “drives the public longing for a mental health system

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that produces clear warning signals and can somehow stop the violence.And it is now fueling a surge in legislative activity, in Washington and New York,” reports a story by Benedict Carey and Anemona Hartcollis in today’s New York Times. The piece continues: Continue reading “Difficulties in predicting violent acts”

Newspaper publishes names of gun owners

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Hundreds of gun-toting residents in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties were surprised to find their names and addresses listed on a map posted by The Journal News on Sunday.

Users can click any dot on the map to see which of their neighbors has a handgun or pistol permit. As reported on ABCNews Online,

“The map sparked more than 500 comments from readers within a day of its appearance on the website, many of them voicing outrage at the paper’s decision to make the information public. Continue reading “Newspaper publishes names of gun owners”

Top games link to gun makers

This is terrible news for video game makers – but they brought it on themselves. images-1Apparently, Electronic Arts and other developers of some of the most violent shooter games employ a form of product placement in which the “real” guns depicted can be found through links to gun manufacturers from within the games themselves.

“Among the video game giant’s marketing partners on the Web site were the McMillan Group, the maker of a high-powered sniper’s rifle, and Magpul, which sells high-capacity magazines and other accessories for assault-style weapons,” reports a front-page story in the Christmas Day edition of the New York Times Continue reading “Top games link to gun makers”

Mental illness creates disability around the globe

Mental illness is the largest contributor to worldwide disability, according to a report card on the health across the globe. The seven papers comprising storyimages_braininheadbwlthe report and two commentaries will be published in a collection entitled “The Global Burden of Disease” (GBD) in The Lancet. As reported in Bioscience Technology:

“GBD 2010 is a collaborative project led by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington (UW) in the US and involves 302 institutions across 50 countries. This is the first report since the inaugural study was published in the early 1990s. Continue reading “Mental illness creates disability around the globe”

This time, the right kind of moral panic

At last we may be entering what sociologists call a “moral panic” over guns. While the term may sound ominous, moral panics historically have been behind may progressive (and conservative) social changes.

According to Stanley Cohen, author of Folk Devils and Moral Panics (1972) and credited as creator of the term, a moral panic occurs when ” condition, episode, person or group of persons emerges to become defined as a threat to societal values and interests”.Those who start the panic when they fear a threat to prevailing social or cultural values are known by researchers as moral entrepreneurs, while people who supposedly threaten the social order have been described as “folk devils.” Continue reading “This time, the right kind of moral panic”