suntimes
CHOPPY 
Weather Updates

Mona Charen: Obama wrong on preventing gun violence

President Barack Obamright puts his arm around former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords D-Ariz. before he speaks Rose Garden White House WashingtWednesday

President Barack Obama, right, puts his arm around former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., before he speaks in the Rose Garden at the White House in Washington, Wednesday, april 17, 2013, about measures to reduce gun violence. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

storyidforme: 47980656
tmspicid: 17803971
fileheaderid: 7998559

Updated: May 22, 2013 6:44AM



President Barack Obama doesn’t care about dead children. He’s indifferent to the suffering of their parents. There isn’t a single coherent argument on his side of the case. He lies about the issue. It’s pure politics.

That’s the way the gun dispute would be presented if Obama’s opponents deployed the kind of demagogic language he slips on like comfortable loafers.

Sounds harsh, doesn’t it, possibly even racist? Funny how touchy everyone is about the way Obama is criticized but how indifferent most are to his low accusations. His opponents are always guilty of bad faith, whereas he is concerned about preventing children from being mowed down by crazed gunmen.

Except he isn’t. The gun control measures the president worked so hard to pass and which the Senate voted down last week would have done nothing to prevent the next Newtown.

Adam Lanza did not obtain his guns through the gun show loophole. More rigorous background checks would not have prevented most of the mass shootings we’ve suffered in the past 15 years.

Nor does the president’s outrage at the Senate’s failure to pass his trivial reform really hold up as a genuine expression of policy disappointment. As Allahpundit observed, the president responded very differently to the Aurora, Colo., shootings than to Newtown. Could it be because Newtown was more heinous? It’s possible. It could also be because Aurora happened before the election, and Obama chose not to embrace an unpopular issue like gun control while his name was on the ballot. Yet when four Democrats from pro-gun states declined to place their own re-elections in jeopardy, Obama in effect called them “shameful.”

A sincere reformer would have given more than lip service to the problem of the mentally ill. The mentally ill commit an estimated 10 percent of the homicides in America, but they commit a much larger share of mass killings.

Unlike gun policy, America’s handling of the severely mentally ill has changed profoundly over the course of the past 50 years. The deinstitutionalization movement emptied the mental hospitals. Even for the few psychiatric beds that remain, laws severely limiting involuntary commitment make it nearly impossible to get treatment for those who refuse. HIPPA and other federal privacy regulations make it impossible for family members of the mentally ill above age 18 to exchange information with treating physicians. And Medicaid and SSDI have enabled the mentally ill to subsist without contact with families or communities that might get them the help they need.

As Dr. E. Fuller Torrey of the Treatment Advocacy Center has noted that assisted outpatient treatment, which ties government benefits to compliance with treatment, has shown success in reducing hospital admissions, criminal behavior and homelessness among the mentally ill.

Family members of the mentally ill report the frustration of being unable to get treatment for their loved ones even when they have threatened violence. Reform of civil commitment laws to permit 72-emergency interventions, even over the objections of the patient, would correct this. Our laws have swung way too far in the direction of libertarianism when it comes to mental health treatment.

If Obama were sincere about Newtown, he would consider these overdue reforms. But apparently he doesn’t care about dead children.



© 2014 Sun-Times Media, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be copied or distributed without permission. For more information about reprints and permissions, visit www.suntimesreprints.com. To order a reprint of this article, click here.