“As I watched President Trump blathering to a group of governors on Monday about
throwing people who have not committed a crime into mental hospitals to prevent mass shootings at schools, I recalled a country where I once lived in which the government had that power — the Soviet Union.
From the mid-1960s until the fall of Soviet Communism, the Kremlin employed the notion of “sluggish schizophrenia” — dreamed up by the Mengele-like psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky — to imprison people on the ground that they were on their way to becoming insane.
Rejected by most civilized nations as a transparent fraud, sluggish schizophrenia was used against dissidents and other citizens who simply dared to seek exit visas. When I worked in Moscow as a reporter in the mid-1980s, I knew an Estonian man who was committed twice for refusing to enter the Red Army during the war in Afghanistan, an act of sanity. It was a literal Catch-22.
Now comes Trump, urging the nation’s governors to return to a time when he said the states could “nab” people and throw them in a padded room because “something was off.”
In fact, the law has required court-ratified findings of actual mental illness for involuntary commitment since around 1881, said Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor at Columbia University’s medical school. “It was never the case that people could be involuntary committed for being a little odd, or even for that matter thought to be dangerous to other people unless they had evidence of mental illness,” he said.”
via Gun Smoke and Mirrors – The New York Times
Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it was a school shooting in Florida on Wednesday that left at least 17 dead at the hands of 19-year-old gunman and his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn’t be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.
So let’s not just mourn the dead, let’s not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let’s also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence — a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.
via Opinion | How to Reduce Shootings – The New York Times
It’s hard to imagine a worse distinction for a country to hold. A recent study in the journal Health Affairs concluded that the United States has become “the most dangerous of wealthy nations for a child to be born into.”
via The Truth About the Florida School Shooting – The New York Times
PARKLAND, Fla. — A heavily armed young man barged into his former high school about an hour northwest of Miami on Wednesday, opening fire on terrified students and teachers and leaving a death toll of 17 that could rise even higher, the authorities said.
Students huddled in horror in their classrooms, with some of them training their cellphones on the carnage, capturing sprawled bodies, screams and gunfire that began with a few shots and then continued with more and more. The dead included students and adults, some of whom were shot outside the school and others inside the sprawling three-story building.
The gunman, armed with a semiautomatic AR-15 rifle, was identified as Nikolas Cruz, a 19-year-old who had been expelled from the school, the authorities said. He began his shooting rampage outside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in this suburban neighborhood shortly before dismissal time around 2:40 p.m. He then made his way inside and proceeded down hallways he knew well, firing at students and teachers who were scurrying for cover, the authorities said.
“Oh my God! Oh my God!” one student yelled over and over in one video circulating on social media, as more than 40 gunshots boomed in the background.
via Death Toll Is at 17 and Could Rise in Shooting – The New York Times
There are excellent comments after this NYT piece. Here is one I chose to repond to.
When the world looks at the United States, it sees a land of exceptions: a time-tested if noisy democracy, a crusader in foreign policy, an exporter of beloved music and film.
But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?
Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.
These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.
The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.
via What Explains U.S. Mass Shootings? International Comparisons Suggest an Answer – The New York Times
“The central question to ask about President Trump’s latest travel ban, which he issued on Sunday, is: Will it make Americans safer?The answer, as best as anyone can tell based on publicly available information, is no.Starting Oct. 18, the United States will permanently bar entry to most citizens of seven countries — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea. Certain citizens from Iraq and Venezuela will face restrictions and heightened scrutiny.
Mr. Trump justified these restrictions — which target countries that either failed or refused to meet new vetting standards — by saying he was acting “to protect the security and interests of the United States and its people.” Americans should be skeptical. While it may appear more modulated, Sunday’s proclamation is a direct descendant of a central plank of Mr. Trump’s campaign — his call for a “total and complete shutdown” of Muslims entering the United States, which he made in 2015, and which remained on his campaign website as late as May.”
Yes, and here is a comment I really liked.
“A terrorist hoping to buy an antiaircraft weapon in recent years needed to look no further than Facebook, which has been hosting sprawling online arms bazaars, offering weapons ranging from handguns and grenades to heavy machine guns and guided missiles.The Facebook posts suggest evidence of large-scale efforts to sell military weapons coveted by terrorists and militants. The weapons include many distributed by the United States to security forces and their proxies in the Middle East. These online bazaars, which violate Facebook’s recent ban on the private sales of weapons, have been appearing in regions where the Islamic State has its strongest presence.”
Source: Facebook Groups Act as Weapons Bazaars for Militias – The New York Times