#alcoholism

Mental Illness = Gun Violence?

As ever, the mainstream media are sensationalizing “mental health” and the connection to gun massacres. Let’s not forget that mental health can be categorized in a broad variety of ways – from mild anxiety, ADHD to PTSD and full blown bi-polar or schizophrenia. The mainstream media would have us believe that Trump wants the keys to the gun cabinet handed over to certified crackpots to go on white supremacist fueled mass rampages. It is easy to say that those who commit these atrocities must be mad. How easy is it to fall for that assumption? Yet the stats say otherwise.

First, what is this bill that has been repealed by Trump? Why is the media making such clickbait hyperventilating news of something that was already enacted c.2 years ago?

The previous Obama bill allowed gun retailers to get access to “mental health” related social security benefits paid to potential buyers. There are nine categories of mental disorders covered in the Social Security Blue Book. These include:

Affective disorders

Anxiety Disorders

Autism and related disorders

Mental retardation

Organic Mental Disorders

Personality disorders

Schizophrenia, paranoia, and psychotic disorders

Somatoform disorders

Substance addiction

The idea is that if one had claustrophobia or similar mild anxiety, it would be unlikely to be a factor in causing someone to shoot up a Walmart. In order to get mental health disability checks, the applicant must prove compliance to prescribed medication and that they seek regular treatment from professionals. Why do we automatically assume that mental health status is a direct trigger to mass murder? Simply because it is easy to categorize these events to unhinged crazies and presume that there was ‘illness’ involved.

A study conducted by the National Institute of Health (NIH) in America showed,

Thirty-four subjects, acting alone or in pairs, committed 27 mass murders between 1958 and 1999. The sample consisted of males with a median age of 17. 70% were described as a loner. 61.5% had problems with substance abuse. 48% had preoccupations with weapons. 43.5% had been victims of bullying. Although 23% had a documented psychiatric history, only 6% were judged to have been psychotic at the time of the mass murder. Depressive symptoms and historical antisocial behaviors were predominant. There was a precipitating event in most cases–usually a perceived failure in love or school–and most subjects made threatening statements regarding the mass murder to third parties. The majority of the sample clustered into three types: the family annihilator, the classroom avenger, and the criminal opportunist.”

Recall Cuban Parkland, Florida student Emma Gonzalez admitted she’d bullied the shooter Nikolas Cruz. It doesn’t excuse his actions. Nor hers.

Take cyber bullying stats from the Association of Psychological Science in the US. In 2015 more than 16,000 young people were absent from school daily because of bullying. 83% of young people say cyber bullying has a negative impact on their self-esteem. 30% of young people have gone on to self-harm as a result of cyberbullying. 10% of young people have attempted to commit suicide as a result of cyberbullying.

So the stats tell us in 3 out of 4 cases, mental illness was not the culprit in mass shootings. A violent/bullying, substance abuse based environment was.

As mentioned in the previous post, how is it we can find out about the history of shooters within hours of the terror? Surely the powers at the FBI, NSA etc can monitor the traffic of hate – death lists, death threats etc and use that as the basis of background checks rather than rely on whether someone received mental health related disability cheques? Perhaps someone who is fully healed from a mental illness as a child poses no threat if wanting to hunt or fire at a supervised gun range. Perhaps that individual wants to be a security guard?

Dr Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral science at the Duke University School of Medicine believes that in the event of unlawful use of a firearm by those with mental illness, 95% likely to turn the weapon on themselves than commit homicide.

He also believes that those who are violent or been charged with assault make far better predictors of homicidal behavior than the outcome of a mental health diagnosis.

In Connecticut, almost 23,300 people were diagnosed with a history of serious mental illness. 7% were disqualified from owning a gun because of that mental record. 35% were banned based on a disqualifying criminal record that wasn’t necessarily linked to the mental illness.

Dr. Swanson closed with,

We need to think of violence itself as a communicable disease. We have kids growing up exposed to terrible trauma. We did a study some years ago, looking at [violence risk] among people with serious mental illness. The three risk factors we found were most important: first, a history of violent victimization early in life, second, substance abuse, and the third is exposure to violence in the environment around you. People who had none of those risk factors ― even with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia ― had very low rates of violent behavior…Abuse, violence in the environment around you ― those are the kinds of things you’re not going to solve by having someone take a mood stabilizer.”

Sadly such is the state of lazy journalism that ‘respected media outlets’ simply infer that those that commit mass murder are simply head cases and giving them access to guns will somehow create a bigger problem. That’s how the mainstream media is portraying a 2-yr old bill to whip up more misunderstanding.

Beasts at the border?

A lot of negative noise has been made about the actions of the Customs & Border Protection (CBP) employees in the US. Notably, the arrest statistics across the entire staff of 59,178 totalled 254 people. Only 2 people were arrested for sexual misconduct. Two-thirds of the crimes that led to the arrest of CBP staff were alcohol or DV related. The Annual Report published in 2018 notes that the trend fell marginally.

The CBP Standards of Conduct state that in order to fulfill its mission, CBP and its employees must sustain the trust and confidence of the public they serve. As such, any violation of law by a CBP employee is inconsistent with and contrary to the Agency’s law enforcement mission. CBP’s Standards of Conduct specify that certain conduct, on and off-duty, may subject an employee to disciplinary action. These standards serve as notice to all CBP employees of the Agency’s expectations for employee conduct wherever and whenever they are.

Rep Jerry Nadler is calling for CBP officials to face ‘child abuse’ sanctions. Substantiated ‘crimes involving children leading to arrest numbered only 6. Six too many one might say but hardly a sign of widespread child abuse. 

We can see the total number of formal disciplinary warnings and sanctions against staff as follows over the past 3 years.

CBP.png

Note that under Trump, an 18% increase in drug testing of CBP employees (13% of the total were tested in 2017) led to a fall in positive responses to narcotics in 2017 over 2016.

A total of 12 people, or 0.02% of CBP staff, tested positive in 2017 to illicit substances.

Looking at allegations made against CBP staff, 3,806 of the 7,239 claims made were dismissed as unsubstantiated in 2017. This is down from 3,828 out of 7,740 in 2016. There were 8,253 claims in 2015. in 2017, 1,279 employees required counselling. 1,074 received written warnings. So the idea that CBP employees are merely Nazis bullying people with no consequences, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Statistically, the quarterly reported nature of the data suggest very little seasonality with respect to punishment – i.e. it is consistent.

Breaking it down by department within the CBP, 4% of the 20,954 US Border Patrol (USBP) staff were disciplined, 3% of the 29,321 Office of Field Operations (OFO) employees were cracked over the knuckles. These represented 90% of all disciplinary actions in CBP.

The highest number of CBP OFO sanctions in 2017 vs 2016 caused in the Laredo Field Office (441 -> 378), followed by the San Diego Field Office (398->408) and Tucson Field Office (328 -> 200). These figures were out of a total of 3,129 sanctions issued.

The highest number of CBP USBP sanctions in 2017 vs 2016 were caused in the Tucson Sector (809->701), followed by the Rio Grande Sector (704->568) and the El Paso Sector (317->332). These figures were out of a total of 3,168 sanctions issued.

Each year, CBP receives and reviews hundreds of allegations pertaining to use of force incidents. Authorized employees may use objectively reasonable force only when it is necessary to carry out their law enforcement duties. When these cases involve excessive force or civil rights abuse allegations, and prosecution is declined by the U.S. Attorney’s Office or the local prosecutor, the matter is then subject to an administrative investigation to determine if an employee’s actions, although not unlawful, violated Agency policy or procedure.

In FY 2015, CBP implemented a new process for reporting, tracking, and investigating use of force incidents. Under this new process, use of force cases are evaluated to determine whether the amount or type of force used was excessive or outside of Agency policy. CBP’s National Use of Force Review Board (NUFRB) reviews all lethal use of force incidents, including the use of firearms and uses of force that result in serious injury or death. The Local Use of Force Review Board reviews all less than lethal use of force incidents not addressed by the NUFRB. If there is a determination that an employee’s use of force was outside of Agency policy, the case returns to HRM for potential disciplinary action.

The remaining cases involving alleged use of force that are not handled through the NUFRB or Local Use of Force Review Boards, including allegations of excessive force, are referred to OPR or component management for review and consideration of disciplinary action.

In conclusion, CBP noted,

All CBP employees are guided by these principles of the public trust both on and off-duty. Those who breach it are held accountable for their actions.

Although the number of CBP employees arrested for misconduct on or off-duty declined for the second year in a row, the number of employees arrested continues to be a concern. CBP is addressing employee arrests through its ongoing efforts promoting education and resilience services to employees and their families, reducing the use of administrative leave or indefinite suspension when employees are subject to a criminal proceeding, and by ensuring appropriate discipline is applied.

CBP will continue to increase its transparency efforts with annual discipline overviews, publication of National Use of Force Board results, and through public engagement on our policies and operations. Finally, CBP’s internal complaints and discipline systems will remain focused on systemic improvements to reduce case investigation and administrative processing timelines and increase consistency in handling misconduct allegations and more timely arrive at discipline case decisions.”

Judge for yourself. Things are not exactly rosy, but the idea that border forces are unhinged and unaccounted is simply unfounded. To that end, steps taken to improve the situation are not limited to the following:

Improving Use of Force instruction for law enforcement personnel by extending basic training of new recruits to include a 35% increase in less lethal and 58% increase in use of force judgement/firearms related training; Adding mandatory live and computer-assisted scenario based Use of Force training for all.

Continuing release of information to the public immediately following use of force incidents and publishing monthly use of force statistics on CBP.gov

Implementing CBP’s Policy on Zero Tolerance of Sexual Abuse and Assault

We await the FY2018 figures due shortly to see whether the Trump administration has added a layer of Nazi stormtrooper to the data. CM guesses the statistics will prove otherwise.