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A Short History of Mass Shootings in Outline by Thomas Wictor

Mass shootings are the result of multiple factors, the main one being untreated mental illness.

The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 began the process of closing government-run mental hospitals.

(19) Even the most severely mentally ill were released so that they could “find jobs or live at home.”

Their treatment was to take place at outpatient community mental-health care centers that were never built.This was the beginning the homeless problem.

“Kennedy said when he signed the bill that the legislation to build 1,500 centers would mean the population of those living in state mental hospitals — at that time more than 500,000 people — could be cut in half. In a special message to Congress earlier that year, he said the idea was to successfully and quickly treat patients in their own communities and then return them to “a useful place in society.””

(20) In 1965, the passage of Medicaid forced states to release patients from mental institutions because the program doesn’t cover the costs.

(21) In 1967, California passed the Lanterman-Petris-Short Act, which made it virtually impossible to hospitalize the mentally ill against their will. Every other state in the union adopted similar legislation.

(22) In 1980, Jimmy Carter signed the Mental Health Systems Act, which strengthened the social experiment of using community outpatient centers rather than government-run hospitals.

“I am convinced that these actions and the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act will reduce the number of Americans robbed of vital and satisfying lives by mental illness. I ask the Congress to join with me in developing a new system of mental health care designed to deal more effectively with our nation’s unmet mental health needs.”

(23) In 1981, the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act repealed the Mental Health Systems Act and replaced it with block grants to states, thus ending the federal government’s involvement in mental-health treatment.

” Only 650 community health centers had been built. That was less than half of what was needed. They served 1.9 million patients. They were designed to help those with less severe mental health disorders. As states closed hospitals, the centers became overwhelmed with those patients with more serious challenges. “

(24) As always happens with block grants, the money was reallocated, and most community mental-health care centers were never built. During the Great Recession, states slashed funding to ALL mental-health programs.

(25) By 2010, there were 14 psychiatric beds per 100,000 people in the United States. It’s the same ratio as in 1850.

 By early 2016, the state hospital bed population had dropped more than 96%, to 37,679 beds, or 11.7 beds per 100,000 people. Of these, nearly half were occupied by criminal offenders with serious mental illness; barely six beds per 100,000 people remained for individuals with acute or chronic psychiatric disease who had not committed crimes.

(26) Until we END the social experiment of deinstitutionalization, we will continue to have mass shootings.

How to Bring Sanity to Our Mental Health System:  The consequences of this failed experiment for mentally ill individuals, for their families, and for the public at large are legion. Mentally ill homeless persons live on our streets like urban gargoyles and expropriate parks, playgrounds, libraries, and other public spaces. Jails and prisons have become progressively filled with mentally ill inmates, thereby transforming these institutions into the nation’s new psychiatric inpatient system. Police and sheriffs have become the first responders for mental illness crises in the community and are fast becoming the nation’s new psychiatric outpatient system—“armed social workers” in the words of one law enforcement official.[3] Mentally ill individuals who are not being treated are responsible for approximately 1,400 homicides each year, 10 percent of the nation’s total, including rampage shootings such as occurred in Tucson in January 2011. To make matters even worse, we are spending over 100 billion mostly federal dollars on this dysfunctional system each year.

That’s just reality… Thread by @ThomasWictor

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Fred August 27, 2018, 11:12 AM

    Can you explain to me how mental health is measured, demonstrably, repeatably, in a laboratory environment with controls? In other words, provably? And show the correlation, I’m not even asking for causation here, just the correlation between mental health problems and the propensity toward violence please? Again, provably through scientifically repeatable processes in a controlled environment.

    The fact of the matter is that there is ZERO connection between mental health and a proclivity toward violence, none. Is every solider and police mentally unstable? Clearly they kill more than any other group on earth. Oh, they are servants of the State, so that doesn’t count, I see.

    Oh and, $500,000,000,000.00 service on the debt. That’s just the interest payment. Who pays to do the round ups? We are talking about government roundups here, right?

    I say we just start hurling our first born virgins into the volcano to appease the gods. That’s about as scientific a method as ‘mental health’ because both are idolatry and deny the only true cure for human maladies of the heart and mind. The American Church is dead. It has handed all of its responsibility before a Righteous God to people like Pelosi and Waters.

    This is your Church and these are your gods:

    How about convening government run fitness panels to determine who should have the weapons. Let me guess, dot guv -Yes, you and me -No. Maybe just rounding up all of the gun owners and bulldozing them into trenches would do it. Red Flagg my balls.

  • Casey Klahn August 27, 2018, 11:34 AM

    I start thinking of the Soviets when I hear we need to control mental health vis: gun violence. Fred’s right: mental illness can be a self-harm track, and certainly those who murder are in a category of illness. But, it’s not the direction to look after a mass gun murder. I recall when homosexuality was in the psych books as a category of mental illness. It’s a shit show when politics gets involved.

    Next, conservatism will be in the DSM. Being a military veteran is another category at risk. Male? White? Capitalist? Mommy? American? Intellectual? Teacher? Artist? Christian? NRA member? The fucking list goes on.

  • ghostsniper August 27, 2018, 1:23 PM

    Can anybody point out the specific entry in that parchment under glass (It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!) that authorizes the gov’t to have anything at all to do with mental health issues? The first motherfucker that points to that “welfare clause” gets double tap punched in the face.

    Oh yeah, we’re talking about the gov’t here, you know, the entity that has fucked up more stuff on this planet than all other entities in world history put together, and has NEVER done even one single thing right. Not one.

    I submit that if anyone should be bulldozed then it shall be all the gov’t politicians, then all the gov’t employees, and finally, all the nitwits that empowered them.

    No one in this entire country has lived even 1 minute of true freedom in their life yet there are uncountable idiots running around out there claiming they will lay down their life for their country and what it stands for. Intentionally, negligently clueless.

  • John The River August 27, 2018, 2:27 PM

    Just a thought. How about simply removing the option of the “Legally Insane” defense. If they did the crime and are convicted. Put them to death or in prison for life without the possibility of parole.

    Same thing for lesser crimes. No burn down a warehouse and get 90 days observation. Do 10-20 years for arson.

    Maybe after a while the politicians would start to think changing the laws back to allow involuntary commitments isn’t such a bad idea.

  • Eskyman August 27, 2018, 4:59 PM

    From the comments so far it seems that everyone’s OK with hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people living & crapping on the street, harassing women & children who are trying to get by them, and endangering everyone’s health and safety; we sure wouldn’t want to lock them up for their own good as well as others, now would we?

    Oh, and LQBTF or whatever they are, they’re not mentally ill, no not at all. They chop off bits of themselves and think they’re things they’re not, but hey! It’s a free country, and if you want to be a rainbow pony then you certainly can, and it’s your God-given right to prance about with a pistol in each hand (or is that hoof?) Blaze away, pardner! (Just remember, your right to shoot me ends when the bullet touches my body; them’s the rules, right? Don’t forget, now.)

    There is a lot of evidence that those people have been molested as children. So what, it’s OK, right? Let’s all have a gay old time, and no age limits need apply. After all, who can say what mental illness even is, so whatever anybody does it’s pefectly all right, and besides: they aren’t your kids. Each and every child is a perfect snowflake who can decide for themselves what sex they are, if they want to have a sex at all that is; ask any baby and see what they tell you, that’s the ticket. They can also decide to sleep with old Uncle, who tickles them in funny places & likes to play with their pee-pee, but nothing’s wrong with that now is it. He gives them candy, or sometimes beatings, but that’s just normal. Everything’s normal, be cool, daddy-o.

    So that high school nutcase in the Parkland shooting shouldn’t have been locked up until he killed someone? Well, he did kill, lots of times, and now he’s locked up. I’m so glad that his civil rights were scrupulously guarded, and I’m not worried at all that some other nut will do the same thing; why, that would be as ridiculous as thinking that Congress may pass some gun control law, since we all know that would be unConstitutional, right? Why, locking up some nut who wants to kill people would be just like the Soviets! SMH.

    It’s too bad that so many libertarians live on some other planet somewhere, and don’t ever have to cope with reality. I’d sure like to live on that planet too, but I guess the drugs I take aren’t strong enough. That’s understandable, since they’re only for high blood pressure. Those I definitely need!

    Oh, and before I go: it isn’t the soldiers or police who are killing 50 to 70 black people each month in Chicago. I’m sure all those murderers are sane, normal folks, just going about their day, shooting other sane normal folks just like themselves just because it’s fun. Don’t even think that maybe there’s something wrong with any of them! No, they’re normal, just like you and me! Heavens, who would want to lock any of them up? Why, that would be just like the USSR!

    May God have mercy on us all.

  • Eskyman August 27, 2018, 5:12 PM

    Just received from my cousin, this important message:


    I talked with a homeless man this morning and asked him how he ended up this way. He said, “Up until last week, I still had it all. I had plenty to eat, my clothes were washed and pressed.

    “I had a roof over my head, I had HDTV and Internet, and I went to the gym, the pool, and the library.

    “I was working on my MBA on-line. I had no bills and no debt. I even had full medical coverage.”

    I felt sorry for him, so I asked, “What happened, drugs, alcohol, divorce?”

    “Oh no, nothing like that,” he said. “No, no….I was paroled.”

  • ghostsniper August 27, 2018, 6:37 PM

    “No, no….I was paroled.”

    I vaguely knew a guy (a friend of a friend) a long time ago that lost his job due to drinkin and knew it’d be some time before he found another so he opted to get arrested and sit in the shitcan for a spell. Never seen him again.

    I can’t do any serious jail. When I was single I got caught up in a downward spiral over “traffic stuff” and did 3 days in the county and I was bored to death. Read everything in the building, the TV was bullshit, and all the yammering all the time no sleep could get done. Had to stay on guard all the time especially when taking a shower. And this was in a brand new county facility that only had about 15 doods in it. Naw, I couldn’t live like that for long. Boredom ain’t my thing.

    “” Tag expired, I was between jobs, then insurance was canceled because of the tag, then I made an illegal left turn at an intersection where until recently had always been left or right turn legal, and a jackboot was watching. The next morning the judge said, “$150 or 3 days.” and I said “gimme the 3 days”. The fux didn’t even give me a ride back to my vehicle so I had to walk and when I got there it had a cable through the front wheels. I was parked in a beauty shop parking lot so I asked to use the phone to call a friend. He brought a bolt cutter and that cable was history. A month later I got a decent job, the one that launched me into self employment, and never again did I go that low.

    Forgot. About 10 years later I had a client that was doing a remodeling-addition to that jail that I was in and I went to the site to do a review. It seemed a lot smaller the 2nd time around. I guess it just depends on what side of the table you’re sitting on.

  • Terry August 27, 2018, 9:04 PM


    You should write an autobiography. Enough material in your life for a thousand page, cannot put down bed time reader.

  • Clayton E Cramer August 27, 2018, 9:39 PM

    I am guessing that some of the commenters above have never known a person suffering schizophrenia: hallucinations, delusions, depression, and paranoia. Yes, it is real. The Secret Service report on mass killings for 2016-17 noted that 64% had mental illness problems.[https://mentalillnesspolicy.org/wp-content/uploads/secret_service_64_attacks_MI.pdf] The Parkland shooter talked about voices telling him to do that. The shooter in Aurora had been recognized by his psychiatrist as schizophrenic and dangerous, but Colorado law, like many states precluded hospitalization until the chalk marks were around the bodies. See http://www.claytoncramer.com/scholarly/ColoradoMentalHealthReform-1.pdf. Patrick Purdy, who started the assault weapons panic in 1989, was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic after many convictions for felonies plea bargained down to misdemeanors by the DA who eventually wrote California’s AW ban. There are many other examples such as the Virginia Tech mass murder.

    ghostsniper: State governments like their colonial ancestors inherited the duty to care for the severely mentally ill both for their own protection and public safety. I am researching my 10th book, about the history of mass murder in the U.S., and this was a problem even then.

    Casey: The history Soviet psychiatric abuse is, I suspect, why the left went on a rampage against mental health care in the 1960s and 1970s; if a right thinking operation like Mother Russia could do this, then the evil U.S. must be worse. Their efforts, combined with the legislative mistake described in the above article, created the homelessness problem blamed on Reagan, and turned a fairly rare event, mass murder, into a very common one.

    Fred: A 1991 estimate was that schizophrenia costs the United States about $65 billion in direct and indirect costs. [R. J. Wyatt, I. Henter, M. C. Leary and E. Taylor, An Economic Evaluation of Schizophrenia-1991, 30 SOCIAL PSYCHIATRY AND PSYCHIATRIC EPIDEMIOLOGY 196-205.]
    The $19 billion in direct costs (as of 1991) included the criminal justice system dealing with a few spectacular and terrifying crimes (such as mass public shootings), and millions of infractions, arrests, and short periods of observation. A 1999 study found that 16.2 percent of state prison inmates, 7.4 percent of federal prison inmates, and 16.3 percent of jail inmates, were mentally ill.[Paula M. Ditton, Bureau of Justice Statistics, MENTAL HEALTH AND TREATMENT OF INMATES AND PROBATIONERS (1999), NCJ 174463.] As of 2002, about 13 percent of mentally ill state prison inmates nationwide had been convicted of murder. [Jason C. Matejkowski, Sara W. Cullen, and Phyllis L. Solomon, Characteristics of Persons With Severe Mental Illness Who Have Been Incarcerated for Murder, 36 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PSYCHIATRY AND THE LAW 74 (2008).] A detailed examination of Indiana murder convicts found that 18 percent were diagnosed with “schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder, major depression, mania, or bipolar disorder.” [Jason C. Matejkowski, Sara W. Cullen, and Phyllis L. Solomon, Characteristics of Persons With Severe Mental Illness Who Have Been Incarcerated for Murder, 36 JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF PSYCHIATRY AND THE LAW 74 (2008).]

    I can recommend my book _My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill_. Reality doesn’t fit libertarian fantasies.

  • Clayton E Cramer August 27, 2018, 9:46 PM

    Also, for more detail on the mass murder and mental illness connection, this Connecticut Law Review article might be enlightening. http://claytoncramer.com/scholarly/MentalIllnessAndTheSecondAmendment.pdf We aren’t saving money by refusing to provide care. Instead of hospitalizing them, they are occupying space jails and prisons.

  • Casey Klahn August 27, 2018, 10:29 PM

    Clayton, it sounds like you have a good work going there. Please let us know about it when published.

    What you detect in my comment is some pretty hefty experience with the mental health environment, as a one time small psych hospital intern, and as the son of a bipolar mother. No, I am not convinced that mentally handicapped are universally, or even mostly, dangerous. By definition, the ones institutionalized now show proof of harm, and the ones outside of the system, or minimally touched by the system, are supposedly not a risk. Of course, that doesn’t play out that way. I have no idea of whether things are better decentralized, or centralized; that’s a call for someone well above my pay grade. More money? To be sure. But politicization and federal interest in mental health is patently the wrong direction to go.

    Back to my joking (sort of). Democrats want to criminalize guns ownership, but the percentage of mass shooters from the left is almost complete 100. I say we criminalize democrat gun ownership. Everything would change overnight.

    On mental health: state run and also get the churches involved. No wall between the two: what does that serve? My kids laughed at me for locking the car doors when we drove through the Catholic Relief district in the city this evening, but those are the population we’re talking about, here. Damn. When you think about it, a huge percentage of the general population are on mood drugs! What are we going to do about that??

  • ghostsniper August 28, 2018, 4:30 AM

    OMG! Somebody DO something!

    I’m gonna do something. Today is going to be sunny and hot and I’m going to do a lot of somethings.

    The algae on the white siding 2 story wall on the north side of the house is going to get immersed with a cleaning agent from the pressure washer. It has been driving my wife crazy for 2 years. She’s doing lunch today at the messican joint downtown with 2 of her life long gurlfrenz and when she comes home her crib is gonna look like the day it was born. Everythang for my baybay!

    Then the lawn tractor is gonna get doused too. Right out in the middle of the front yard. Sudsy from stem to stern. Then it will be maintenanced and prepared for the long sleep ahead that awaits. Then the Blazer will be doused properly. Then a pair of hikers ensconced in dense mud that have been drying for a week will be wire brushed to within an inch of their lives. And then the shotgun.

    Yes, the shotgun. 12ga, Remington 870 marine magnum. Stainless with a magpul stock system. Magnificent. I put a custom side saddle on it but each socket is way too tight, can’t get the shells out. So the side saddle is coming off and each of the 6 sockets will be reamed out with a small barrel sander on a drill. Nice and easy, can’t go to far. Sand for 20 seconds then try a shell. Over and over til done. Then reassembled and my brand new Barska reflex sight will be installed and set up. Loaded up and hung on the hook next to the front door of the office where it belongs.

    Then me and Shannon are going to walk all the way up the road to a neighbors house to pick up my 300X spotter scope he is camo’ing for me. I’ll be carrying a 12pk of Stella’s in bottles to act as partial compensation though he said he doesn’t want anything – he just likes doing it. It was gray and black and chrome and that just won’t do. Everything camo all the time. Hail yeah!

    By then my baybay will be home and we’ll sit on the porch and she’ll tell me all about it. In between dodging the baby humming birds. Seems the adult males have hauled ass and the moms are still here training the babies. The babies are slightly smaller and the male babies are lacking the red on their necks. The young’ns are rather naive and reckless. Couple times each day they almost run into us. And chatter? They just run them jibbers continuously. mee-mee-meeeeeee-meeeee……

    At some point today I’m gonna try to start building my new router table. Been conjuring it in AutoCAD off and on for a couple months and it’s time to make sawdust. It’ll be nice, even have a gooseneck LED lamp where it’s supposed to be, storage for hundreds of bits and accessories, and a retractable reel with 50′ 10ga cord. Dawgeez!

    There ya go. Stay busy with stuff that matters and all the weerdness just sort of fades away, doesn’t matter. There’s always been ample grotesque motherfuckers running around out there but now we invite them to invade our space via the “pixel port” sitting on the desk. There’s a little button under the right front corner that vanquishes all of them to the hell where they belong and that’s where they’ll be most of the day. Later this evening I may let them out on their leashes for a spell and slap them about the head and shoulders as they so richly deserve. Or maybe not. wutevah

  • Maxine Wrenn August 28, 2018, 4:36 AM

    Maybe psychotropic drugs should be included in this outline as almost every mass shooter was taking such.

    One day people will realize pumping powerful drugs with known horrific side effects for years on end into the little known brain is not a good idea. Just the modern equivalent of beating the devil out of someone, lobotomies, electrocuting a patient into a stupor.

  • Clayton E Cramer August 28, 2018, 6:35 AM

    Casey: _My Brother Ron_: https://amzn.to/2wnAb3S
    Certainly, only some people with severe mental illness are dangerous to others. Many are only dangerous to themselves. The unwillingness to recognize this is part of the problem.

    I agree this is primarily a state matter; federal courts are the usual venue for screwing this up.

    “a huge percentage of the general population are on mood drugs!” And few are dangerous to others.

    It is true that many of the mass shooters are on the left; paranoia causes some to see every organ of power as after them, like the guy who shot up the Capitol in 1999. There was the Ruby satellite controller he needed to get to, so he could turn back time. Yes, a history of involuntary hospitalization.

    Maxine: psychotropics are common because crazy people have often been treated in the past without success, or have chosen to discontinue treatment. The history of electroconvulsive therapy is a bit more complex than most people realize; it is still used for severe forms of depression that are otherwise resistant to treatment. Lobotomies are one of those tragedies that made some sense for controlling violent patients in the era before chlorpromazine. The alternatives were physical restraints. My book examines the history of all sorts of what today seem barbarous procedures, but were the best available a century ago.

    ghostsniper: Everyone needs a hobby, but disconnecting from the world doesn’t solve the problems of homelessness and murder. Part of why murder rates have fallen so quickly in most developed countries (including the US) is removal of lead from gasoline. Lead causes mental retardation in children, increasing adult criminal behavior, and increases violence and aggression in adults who are poisoned.

  • k August 28, 2018, 7:26 AM

    Those who try to implement the law of Good Intentions eventually discover the law of……….unintended consequences.

  • ghostsniper August 28, 2018, 10:42 AM

    Clayton, if I had to associate with that world out there everyday I would probably be a murderer. I lived in that horrendous environment for 40 years, and back here in the sticks for the past 12. Most of those 40 years were spent in irritation, almost all of the 12 years have not. What’s better than a hobby? Why, 20 hobbies, of course. Try it!

    One more thing, I’m not concerned much with murderers as long as they don’t try that shit around me. I’m one of those rare people that is prepared for it. But I mostly practice Remus’s technique: “Avoid crowds”. Glad you’re teaching your own kids. Go U!

  • Clayton E Cramer August 28, 2018, 4:17 PM

    Avoid crowds is a good idea, not only for insane mass murders, but terrorists as well. Unfortunately, failure to fix this creates all sorts of problems even if you live in the boonies.

  • ghostsniper August 28, 2018, 6:54 PM

    Well Clayton, I’d say the problem was ALREADY created – mentally imbalanced people running loose – and I suspect what you believe to be the fix – more gov’t interference in people’s lives – will create even more of it. MORE gov’t is never the cure, it is it’s own problem.

    Was there ever a time in world history when mentally imbalanced people did not exist?
    Maybe it was meant to be that way.

  • Maxine Wrenn August 29, 2018, 5:30 AM

    @Clayton: Consider the barbarism of telling a pre-teen his brain is defective and he will have to take powerful psychotropic drugs with horrific side-effects for the rest of his life . . . such as a general stupor and suppressed libido. It is remarkable there are not more mass shootings by hopeless zombified husks of humanity.

    Now consider psychiatrists make such fatal diagnoses as a matter of course everyday when thete are no blood tests or any other physical test to determine a patient is ADD, depressed, schizophrenic, etc. A single mom brings a young boy & complaints to a psychiatrist and fifteen minutes later the boy has defective brain chemistry, a label, a script for powerful psychotropics, amd a range of horrific side-effects that make life easier for those around him.

    Barbaric is barbaric, regadless the method or century.

  • Nori August 29, 2018, 7:55 PM

    Let’s not forget the influx of women into psychiatry. Doping up young males to impede damn near every normal drive is unconscionable. The medical arts have been turned inside out and upside down with the feminizing of what was once basic reality.