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Psychiatrists Can’t Stop Mass Killers (nytimes.com)
13 points by SREinSF 8 days ago | hide | past | web | 37 comments | favorite





In areas with strict gun control but access to a black market, mass killings still happen with firearms (see the November 2015 attacks in Paris or the 2017 Quebec City Mosque Attacks).

In areas with strict gun control but limited access to firearms, mass killings still happen with other modalities. A lot of things can effectively kill a bunch of human beings assembled in a restricted area: knives, machetes, bombs, trucks, etc..

The idea that restricting one modality of mass killing will prevent all mass killings is misguided. Would it reduce the frequency or the lethality ? That's debatable. Someone who has decided to pursue mass killing as systematically as the Las Vegas shooter will simply find another weapon to kill en masse.


> In areas with strict gun control but limited access to firearms, mass killings still happen with other modalities. A lot of things can effectively kill a bunch of human beings assembled in a restricted area: knives, machetes, bombs, trucks, etc..

If these things were as effective as suggested, why is it that in America, one of the prime examples of loose gun control, just about all the recent mass killings have been committed with guns?

The other modalities exist but they're less effective (knife/machete/truck) or are hard to manufacture and use (bombs).

To give an example in favour of reduced frequency/lethality, have a look at Australia. We just don't see many mass killings there.


A car attack killed 6 and wounded 30 in Melbourne in January of this year.

Granted, attacks are much rarer in Australia. Part of this is attributable to the population difference: all things proportional, you'd expect 13 attacks in the US for 1 in Australia if the rate is the same between the two countries.


"The other modalities exist but they're less effective (knife/machete/truck)"

No, they aren't. This guy in Las Vegas killed ~160. The 9/11 attackers killed ~3,000.

> or are hard to manufacture and use (bombs).

No, they aren't. The Happy Land Social Club attacker killed 87 with a dollar's worth of gasoline.


58 were killed in Vegas, as of today's count.

Thanks... I think I momentarily confused it with the number of wounded.

2016 Nice, France terror attack used a truck to kill more people than the Las Vegas killer in less time. 86 Dead, 458 injured https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2016_Nice_attack

Psychiatrists can't, because nothing can.

People don't want to internalize the reality that society relies on an overwhelming amount of trust and there will always be abuses of trust. There are thousands and thousands of systems to prevent abuses of trust, and establish trustworthy institutions in society, but they all come at a cost, and are all fallible.

https://www.amazon.com/Liars-Outliers-Enabling-Society-Thriv...


mental illness is more about isolation, stigma, guilt and shame than it is about the individual, mostly

The only way to stop mass killers is to ban and confiscate guns from the public.

The public should not be allowed to defend themselves with firearms. Only the government should have the monopoly on violence in a proper, respectable advanced society.


Again: governments have killed way more people than insane gunmen over the last 100 years.

Yes, America has seen a number of mass shootings. But you have not seen any Rwanda, Srebrenica or Birkenau on your soil.

I absolutely think there exist a better way (as seen in Sweden, Norway, Austria and a number of other countries with very many guns on private hands) but removing all guns from the population should't be what you are looking for IMO.

It's kind of like insurance: costly and totally pointless until your house burns down.


there's a good point that slavoj zizek makes, imo, about how you can't have a genocide without a poet (often, leading it); the case for all of those examples (rwanda, srebrenica, birkenau), for sure.

Yes, but how? 400 mil active firearms in the US alone. A huge chunk of the population that will vote against firearms being banned or taken away from them.

It's like saying "the way you stop war in the world is by making sure we all love each other". What's actionable about it? We have to work with the cards we've been dealt, not with hypothetical situations.


You do it the same way you enforce any other law. What's the issue? Are you saying laws don't work? Because society is built on laws.

Right now 50% of the guns are owned by about 3% of the population. That's your first law-enforcement target right there.


It's not that "laws don't work", although that is somewhat true. It's that any attempt to forcibly disarm the populace of the United States will (and philosophically probably should) trigger a civil war/revolution. The literal purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to ensure that the populace is armed against a tyrannical government, forcible disarmament is pretty tyrannical.

Side note: About 1/3rd of the US population owns a firearm.


> trigger a civil war/revolution

You act like that's a bad thing. A good chunk of the US would be modern social democratic countries if the south seceded. A good chunk of their fear of government likely extend from the last time they tried.

All to often the argument against things like gun control or universal healthcare is "the US is far too big and diverse" and yet no one wants to consider getting smaller and less diverse.


"You act like that's a bad thing."

It would be a very bad thing. I suspect that you don't have the faintest idea how bad it could be.

The previous U.S. Civil War was the war with the highest U.S. body count, by far, with somewhere between 700,000 and 1 million Americans dead (counting both military and civilians).

"A good chunk of the US would be modern social democratic countries if the south seceded. "

Wait: so you expect the side without any guns to win a civil war? How does that work?


Secession doesn't have to mean war. They declare independence, every one else says "that's ok let's negotiate terms", no war required.

The whole civil war was avoidable.


> Secession doesn't have to mean war.

Perhaps, but historically that's not the way to bet. I can think of maybe two or three cases of peaceful secession, and dozens of cases where it resulted in a bloody civil war.


It's basically a tautology to say that things would look different today if things had gone differently in the past. I don't think it's true that a "good chunk of the US would be modern social democratic countries if the south seceded". Three US states together make up over a quarter (30.92%) of the total national GDP, one of those states is in the South. It's not a simple matter to simply say that the US should break up into smaller countries.

Whether that's a desirable outcome or not is something I'm not even really going to touch.


Actually I guess one of the reasons it is so hard to get accept for any good idea to reduce gun violence is because gun owners sees it as a first step towards banning guns.

Why? Because some people tell them - loud and clear - that this is the goal.

Do I advocate being sneaky about taking away guns? No.

Instead I argue that US won't get rid off all guns and should instead focus on reducing the damage.

Why? Because it might actually work.


There are a few problems:

- The 2nd Amendment to the US Constitution enshrines the right to bear arms. To revoke that right would require either the states or congress to trigger a referendum _and_ the populace to vote in favor of revoking the right to bear arms. This would never happen.

- Even if it did happen, the kind of people who care about gun rights are the kind who'd fight for them. I honestly don't think it'd take long for riots to break out. It'd start with firearm-equipped protests, police would come, confrontation would happen and ultimately it just takes one pull of any of the numerous triggers to set off a whole lot of violence.


What he's saying is that your cure might be worse than the disease.

Nobody knows what the effects of mass-confiscation would have on American society, but the range of possibility includes civil war and massive unrest. Most people would surrender their firearms peacefully but there's a strong minority that would not do so peacefully.


Everybody already knows exactly what will happen under mass confiscation: the gun owners will gladly give up their guns.

Anyone that knows gun owners know this is exactly what will happen.

The kind of person that owns a gun are fearful people. They have absolutely no interest in fighting against and armed government when it comes to take away their guns.

I LOL whenever delusional people claim there will be some kind of "civil war" if gun confiscation happens. So much lolz.

Sure there will be some irrational people that might fight back at first, but that number will only be a handful and will be not be statistically different than the number of people that go on shooting rampages right now. Eventually the guns in society will go away.


"Anyone that knows gun owners know this is exactly what will happen."

I know dozens of gun owners. I know full well that there would be no "gladly" about it.

"Eventually the guns in society will go away."

Yep, because declaring a law totally causes all the criminals to take a step back and say "hey man this is illegal so we shouldn't do it".

Black markets will always exist. Smuggling will always exist. There will always be some way for someone to obtain a firearm. Hell, in this day and age of 3D printing and DIY projects we're already starting to see folks working toward homemade firearms.

Gun control in this day and age is - at best - a temporary solution. Actually figuring out why people are so motivated to kill other people and addressing those reasons is much more viable as a solution that's actually somewhat permanent.


You seem very sure of yourself. I'm going to be generous and attribute your confident demeanor to a lack of imagination.

> gun owners will gladly give up their guns

If you believe this, you're clearly delusional. The United States is not Australia.


Right. For example, so-called "assault rifles" were banned outright in California in 1989. One estimate I've seen is that about 10% of them were turned in, which of course leaves 90% of them still out there. A law that only manages to eke out 10% compliance in California is highly unlikely to be effective anywhere else in the country.

How to get the law passed in the first place where there are so much people that againts it and will fight it hard.

Those people seem to have strong influence in government too.


It should be the same as any other cultural change, like gay marriage or civil rights - you just keep at it until it happens.

The last thing you do is say "oh it will never happen" and stop. You just keep doing it, whether it takes one year or a hundred.

Cultural change is all a function of the effort you put in.


I upvoted this comment before I realized you wrote this completely unironically.

Arguably though, if we invested in way better mental healthcare for all, we might save lives / improve the quality of life for enough individuals to offset the cost off mass shootings. That being said, I think we need to restrict access to guns in general. If the government wanted to take you out, an AR15 is not going to save you from a predator drone or whatever we have in our arsenal.

Take Mexico as an example of a Country where nobody is allowed to have guns. People are regularly abducted from their houses & cars without any means of defense. More have been killed by OC than by mass-shooters.

Take Australia as another example of a country where nobody is allowed to have guns (well they are but they need a good reason). The intentional homicide rate is 1/5th of what it is in the US.

Cherry picking examples doesn't really bring much to the discussion.


The anti-gun side cites Australia all the time. You don't get to accuse him of "cherry picking" for citing a counterexample.

If you pull up the list of countries with the highest murder rates, you'll discover that virtually all of them have stringent gun control laws.


...and strangely enough they have less than 1/10th the population as the US. There are more people in the greater-Los Angeles area than there are in the entire continent of Australia

The rates I'm comparing are per 10k people, so they take this into account.



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