Prague Twin

Friday, April 20, 2007

Guns and Healthcare

Yesterday I mentioned that I would address some gun-control measures that I don't agree with. Without getting into too much detail, I don't think that nit-picky measures that say you can't have this or that gun, or that limit the amount of cartridges a magazine can hold do anything to prevent crime. Does it make a difference if I have 3 magazines with 10 rounds each, or if I have 2 magazines with 15 rounds each? Not a bit. I can't own an M16, but I can own an A15 and it is the same damn thing. Does the fact that I have to have a permanantly fixed magazine on my A15 prevent me from sniping people from a fourth story window? No, it just makes it a little bit harder to load.

At issue is not what weapons were used in the Virginia Tech massacre, but who used them.

Reality-based Educator sent me a very good article by Michael Isikoff from Newsweek. The basic point made is that Seung-Hui had no business buying the guns he used. He lied on the form, and the system in place should have prevented him from buying them. This bit of the article jumped out at me....

...groups like the NRA have long supported adding all relevant mental-health records to background check databases. "We have no problem as long as one is adjudicated mentally incompetent [in denying gun purchases] and we have no problem with mental health records being part of the NICS," the source said. "The problem is not with the gun community. The problem is with the medical community" that has traditionally opposed making such records available on privacy grounds.

Yesterday, I reviewed the Czech system for acquiring guns, and I highlighted the point that I need a note from my doctor that I am both physically and mentally fit to own a gun before I can purchase one. As I mentioned before, I think this system is preferable because unless I choose to purchase a gun, my medical records stay private and are not part of a national database.

Let me put that another way; if I am certifiably crazy, I can keep that a secret between me and my doctor unless I want to buy a gun. Under the American system, every time someone has an episode, their files should go into a a national database that is probably less than 100% secure, and as we have seen, much less than 100% complete.

So why can't there be such a system in the United States? "The problem is with the medical community." How many people don't even have a doctor? If you don't have a primary physician, who would issue the note? Here in the Czech Republic, everyone has a primary physician, and if you receive treatment elsewhere, your primary physician will know about it. But in the United States, with over 10% of the population uninsured, I'm sure many people don't even have a primary physician.

This is another way that the lack of comprehensive healthcare affects all Americans. Add to this the fact that psychological treatment is quite expensive, hard to come by (especially since the Federal Government absolved itself from funding it), and as was the case for Seung-Hui, not required for clearly insane people. It is clear to me that the lack of comprehensive healthcare affects all Americans, not just the ones without insurance.

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  • While the system of having a doctor deem the potential gun buyer physcially and mentally fit prior to purchase makes some sense, it has faults. For one, it is often not the primary physician who diagnoses someone as mentally ill. That job is almost always place upon the actual psychiatrist or psychologist. So I could be diagnosed as mentally unstable by a doctor in one city, then move, have the desire to buy a gun, fake my way through another evaluation, and still be deemed fit to purchase a gun. My records with the other doctor would be private and unavailable.

    By Anonymous Fonduta, at 4:10 PM  

  • Yeah, that is why it probably can't work in the U.S. You would need a primary care doctor that refers you to the psychologist, is it is done here in the Czech Republic.

    Therefore, one's primary physician would have that information.

    But like I said in the post, if you don't have a primary care physician......

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:22 PM  

  • By the way Fonduta,

    What are you doing in Prague?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 4:25 PM  

  • Perhaps it could be made workable. There are several tests available, one being the old standby MMPI. It was used extensively in a substance abuse rehab I work at and it was pretty accurate at identifying our real crazies. With all the technology available today, I imagine that a similar test could be developed for those wishing to buy a gun. They can be much harder to fool than another human being.

    By Anonymous rockync, at 5:37 PM  

  • the gun lobby here is too strong. They honestly believe that everyone should carry a firearm wherever they go.

    By Blogger Graeme, at 6:58 PM  

  • If the federal government got involved in health care it would be as messed up as our gun laws are now.

    God Bless America, God Save The Republic.

    By Blogger David Schantz, at 9:43 AM  

  • Rockync,

    Interesting idea. The only problem I see with it is that the truly psychopathic tend to be intelligent, and intelligent people are good at reading into tests.


    I think the debate is going to come around again. The NRA doesn't want crazies with guns because it hurts their cause.


    I don't have a lot of faith in government health care either, but at some point it will probably have to be done. Necessary evil?

    By Blogger Praguetwin, at 6:27 PM  

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