Thursday, August 16, 2012

When is it Appropriate to Disarm Someone?

NPR reports

Timothy Courtois' family had been worried about him for weeks. They repeatedly told police in Biddeford, Maine, that the 49-year-old was off his meds for bipolar disorder. And police were also told he had guns. But still, because he wasn't doing anything that rose to the legal definition of imminent threat, police said their hands were tied.

"We're very limited — very, very limited to what we can do," says Biddeford Police Deputy Chief JoAnne Fisk. "Just because somebody has a hunch, we will investigate it. But everybody has rights, and you have the right to bear arms in this country."

It was both frustrating and a relief to police and the family when Courtois was finally arrested for speeding down the highway to what could have been a tragedy. Police found an AK-47, handguns and several boxes of ammunition in Courtois' car as he drove toward New Hampshire, he reportedly told police, to shoot a former employer.
This little story, which is being repeated in every city all over the country, perfectly illustrates a serious dilemma we're facing.

All people, including gun owners, have the right to privacy and should be able to conduct their affairs without outside interference.  This is basic.  But, when the public safety is at risk, something needs to be done.  What's the solution?

In my opinion, the criterion which is generally used now is not sufficient,  It says if a person has "ever been deemed by a judge to be mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed," only then would they lose their right to own guns. Even if the reporting of such cases were 100%, which it is not, that would be setting the bar too high. We have daily examples of people who qualify under this lenient ruling and yet wreak havoc with their guns.

The only way I can see to address this problem would require a major overhaul of our gun control policy and attitudes.  It would require licensing of  gun owners with a "may issue" stipulation by the local authorities.  When an obvious situation is developing, the license can be suspended and guns forfeited.  Many lives would be saved.

What's your opinion?  Please leave a comment.


  1. You should have read the whole article:

    "Some states do allow such intermediate interventions, and some also go beyond the federal law revoking gun rights, for example, of anyone who's ever been in treatment for mental illness. But given the small percent of mentally ill who commit gun violence, Bonnie cautions casting such a wide net could actually hurt more than it helps.

    "'The payoff in terms of preventing violence would be very little. Indeed, you probably would pay a very heavy price by discouraging people from treatment, which in the long run probably would result in more violence, not less,' Bonnie says.

    "And then there's the slippery slope. Even the deputy police chief in Maine, who was unable to take guns from a mentally unstable man until it was almost too late, concedes that no one wants police deciding someone shouldn't have a gun just because he's wearing a purple suit today."

    Get it? You're one of the few, the miserable few who think your way. Even an NPR reporter knows this. When I heard this report, I thought of you. I see that you've done your typical thing--pick out the bit that sounds good for your cause, while ignoring the conclusion that the source reaches.

    But keep doing what you're doing, Mikeb. My side is winning, in part, thanks to that.

  2. Sounds like you are just looking for a gun control opportunity rather than a solution for the reporting of the mentally disturbed. The man was just as much of a danger off his meds and speeding down the highway as hw was off his meds and speeding down the highway with guns.

    Looks to me like if you you were truly concerned with the man being a danger to society at large that you would want to find a way to remand him to care rather there are guns present or not.

    But then we all know the real idea behind gun control is the control part, not the guns. If it were, you would not spend so much time on silly assault weapons bans that involve a relatively small portion of guns used in crimes.

  3. Right after you report on the domestic left-wing terrorism that took place yesterday?

    Suspected Family Research Council gunman volunteered at LGBT center...... Media silent....

    Read more: