published Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Cook: Guns kill, not autism

Do not blame mental illness. Don't even dare.

Doing so is a cop-out, a duck-and-cover attempt to dodge and divert attention away from something finally being done about gun violence to vilifying a population of folks already suffering from stigma, misunderstanding and stereotypes.

"I do think that addressing mental health issues is much more the preventative way to address this," Gov. Bill Haslam said on Monday, in response to the Connecticut shootings.

In other words: the .223-caliber Bushmaster AR-15 assault rifle didn't kill those Connecticut first-graders. Autism did.

In the hours and days following Friday's school shootings, it was reported and rumored that shooter Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with autism or Asperger's syndrome. And thus, a killer of kids he became.

It is not just faulty logic, it is false. Not only are autism and Asperger's not even considered mental illnesses (they're neuro-developmental disorders), there is no definite proof that Adam Lanza had been diagnosed with autism, Asperger's or anything.

And if he had, there is no research connecting neuro-developmental disorders with mass violence.

But you know what the research does say? Know the most obvious statistic of all? When we comb through all the American victims of gun violence, we find one thing in common.


Like the three Lanza took to the elementary school.

The real mental illness is the gun-drunk pathology that has infected this nation and its policy to the point where assault rifles are now more sacred than regulations that can save lives.

No other nation in the world behaves or thinks like we do. American exceptionalism, to the point of suicide. We're killing ourselves.

According to The New York Times, there are about 300 million privately owned guns in the U.S. Enough for every person.

Our murder rate is about 15 times that of other similar countries.

Our children are 13 times more likely to be killed from gun violence than children in other similar countries.

In our state (in 2009, one-quarter of all state legislators had handgun carry permits), the NRA gun-lobby has been itching to push guns into every corner of society.

Churches. Universities. Car trunks. Parking lots. State parks. Bars.

I'll wager that this upcoming legislation season, they attempt to pass legislation allowing guns in schools.

I long for the NRA of old, known for healthily and calmly promoting things like quail hunting and skeet shooting. Today's gun lobby has turned the Second Amendment into an idol. The consequence of over-arming our citizenry has produced a pathology of fear that sees a threat in nearly every corner of American life.

Never will I call for the end of guns. I've owned several, know plenty of others who do, believe they can be used in responsible ways and that the far majority of gun owners do so.

But when we are dealing with an instrument whose potential for death and destruction is so catastrophic, then mere individual rights arguments are thin.

"More Americans die in gun homicides and suicides in six months than have died in the last 25 years in every terrorist attack and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq combined," wrote Nicholas Kristof in his New York Times column on Saturday.

In the post-9/11 months, we waged two wars, surrendered multiple personal and collective freedoms, spent billions of dollars and lost thousands of military lives.

But when the enemy is within -- and gun crime kills more Americans in six months than the last 25 years of terrorism -- we refuse to talk about regulating guns?

That's the real illness.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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conservative said...

"NEW YORK, Dec 17 (Reuters) - The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) said on Monday it was reviewing its investments with Cerberus Capital Management LP, the private equity firm that controls Bushmaster Firearms International, in light of last week's the school shooting in Connecticut."

"With $155 billion in assets under management, CalSTRS is the largest teachers' fund and the second largest pension fund in the United States, making it an influential voice in the investment community that may influence other investor funds in reaction to the shooting."

The hypocrisy of Liberals is often stunning. Here radical leftist Socialists who abhor the Second Amendment invest in gun stocks! Yes, gun stocks!

Now, since these same loony people believe guns kill people then logic would dictate that the teacher's unions made the guns that killed kinder garden children and profited as well.

If I were a betting person, I would bet a coke that these radical leftist Socialists who abhor the Second Amendment are also invested in "record profits" BIG OIL and "record profits" insurance companies and Walmart and tobacco and liquor!

Scratch investment in loser green energy and organic and QueenJamesbible.

December 19, 2012 at 7:11 a.m.
Walden said...

David - I hear you on Autism and Aspergers, and I agree.

However, not once in your article do you condemn the PERSON who killed these innocent little children. Behind that Bushmaster was an evil, deranged, sick human being who committed one of the worst crimes imaginable. It is now cliche, but that gun didn't pull its own trigger.

I am all for sensible gun control. I think I have come around to believing that so-called "assault weapons," such as the Bushmaster AR-15 type rifles need to be banned. If you can't defend your home with a shotgun, deer rifle, or pistol then you aren't much of a man.

That being said, the gun didn't pull its own trigger, so if we aren't having a serious dialogue about what in the hell caused that psycho to go into that school and commit that horrible crime, then we aren't having a serious discussion, and we aren't serious about solving the problem. We are merely playing politics.

December 19, 2012 at 10:04 a.m.
una61 said...

David, how do you propose we regulate guns? Lanza killed the 26 people for a reason. What do you think it was?

December 19, 2012 at 2:43 p.m.
GeorgiaRebel said...

Neither autism or the rifle was the killer. Lanza was the killer. Why spend all that column space missing the real issue?

December 19, 2012 at 4:13 p.m.
BestInTheWorld said...

Guns don't shoot themselves. The person behind the gun shoots them. While I do agree with you to a degree, overall I disagree.

Walden: Many people have these rifles because they're either gun aficionados, sport shooters, or simply like to collect. The three types of firearms you listed all shoot rounds, just like an AR15 does. I don't believe that's a fair statement at all. As far as the rest goes, we can agree there. Not one mention of the pers..... monster that did this? What?

December 19, 2012 at 4:20 p.m.
pgoldberg said...

Sanity is defined as being of a sound and rational mind capable of sound and rational decisions. Shooting children at an elementary school is not sane. Mental illness matters. And whatever happened the days and weeks before the shooting matter. And the car he drove, the guns he used, and the bullets matter. Each of these, and a near infinite number of other things leading up to the shooting, contributed to the moment when those twenty eight people were killed. Fixing any one of them isn't the solution, but understanding as much as we can about each of them is a step in the right direction. When you declare the "ah hah!" that you know what happened and why, and it's so simple as to be "Guns did it!" or "Aspergers did it!" You shut down the true discussion that leads to solutions.

December 19, 2012 at 4:47 p.m.
Walden said...

Hey Best - thanks for your comments. I am a gun owner -- rifles, shotguns, handguns -- and have become quite the hoarder of ammunition lately too. I hear your defense of assault style rifles, I guess my comment was a way of saying that I'd be willing to give those up if the anti-2nd Amendment crowd would just quit yapping about the more conventional/utilitarian types of guns. Although as someone who does not own any assault style weapons, I wouldn't really be giving anything up. Hmm.

December 19, 2012 at 4:49 p.m.
conservative said...

Walden, in the mind of most Liberals, especially those who comment here you do own assault style weapons.

Many of them probably have a 22 rifle with a magazine capacity of several rounds. They are semi automatics and fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.

Surround that 22 rifle with some plastic to make it look like a fully automatic true assualt rifle and you still just have a plain ole 22 that can only fire as fast as you can pull the trigger.

December 19, 2012 at 5:18 p.m.

Hello David,

I see in your Bio that you have a Master's Degree in Peace and Justice Studies. That is great and I admire your efforts; however, you may have been served as well just to remember and practice the "Ten Commandments". The Commandments work well for social behavior no matter what your religious beliefs might be. Now, to your point of guns killing people, your opinion hear leads me to believe you might need to go back to school and take some psychology courses. In the meantime let me briefly sum it up for you, guns don't kill people. People kill people. You are providing a disservice to your readers by having and authoring such ignorant propaganda.

December 19, 2012 at 6:22 p.m.
Walden said...

conservative - points well taken. I totally agree that the assault rifle is different from a deer rifle mainly in looks only (although the assault rifles do take much larger "clips," which seems to me to be an eccentricity, rather than a necessity).

December 19, 2012 at 7:49 p.m.
Frozennickel said...

rather trite to say that the most common element we find in gun violence is guns. The thing we find most common in DUII's are cars, so let's discuss banning cars! The logic is very, very weak indeed.

If you want to have a productive discussion--as most gun rights advocates I know do--then let's talk about another very common element in gun violence: THEFT.

Most gun violence started as an act of theft--theft of guns by someone, from a law-abiding, gun-owning citizen. I suspect that this is a more fruitful commonality to pursue than an outright ban on guns.

The truth is, we have 300 million guns in circulation today, yet the incidence (statistically speaking)is extremely low, you know, if you look at the numbers empirically. A child today is more likely to die from medical malpractice than gun violence, and certainly from drunk drivers than gun violence.

Our resources are limited. Let's focus on real issues, real patterns, and getting real results.

And let's not compare ourselves to other countries; we aren't them, and they aren't us. It's just a Socialist orgasm to think we can fit the USA into a country like....

December 19, 2012 at 9:02 p.m.
VisaDiva said...

Isn't this closing the barn door once the horse is out? Anyone who wants to obtain a gun can and will by any means. How can a law be enacted that makes owning an assault rifle illegal,retroactively? Are you trying to make the fantasy that "Obama is going to take all our guns away" true? The children attacked in China the same day as the tragedy in Sandy Hook were assaulted with a knife.

The question “who in their right mind would…?” The answer is “no one.” People who commit heinous acts need treatment long before they become violent. According to NIMH “An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year" Personality disorder, depression, anxiety disorder, PTSD are all treatable.

Some may think that mental illness is an excuse for criminal behavior. It is not. Severe cases where standard treatment is not possible are handled in a more aggressive way. I am not attempting to excuse the acts of a seriously ill person nor do I condone institutionalizing anyone without a professional, very thorough examination. There are most definitely people who do not need to be free among society. My point is to address the real issue of how to deal with psychotics instead of guns. That is the hard question.

December 19, 2012 at 11:23 p.m.
conservative said...

Walden, guns,clips and ammo are flying off the shelves.

Owebama is only going to profit the gun makers because any changes in "assault" (they are not true assault rifles )rifles will only be cosmetic.

Furthermore, a 10 round clip can be changed just as fast as a 30 round clip, just more often and ten round clips could be easily weld together to increase there capacity.

The frail of mind can be led to believe anything!

December 20, 2012 at 7:07 a.m.
jesse said...

Look up knee jerk in the dictionary and it has a pix of David!

December 20, 2012 at 8:15 a.m.
voice said...

The only difference in a 2012 Model Bushmaster Ar-15 top of the line Assault Rifle as they are called & a Semi Automatic .223 remington built in 1950 is the plastic trim to make it look like a machine gun, a Assault Weapon is a style or term to identify a look, it fires no different than the semi auto your grand pa used when he was 10 to kill his first deer with back when Hoover was in office. The Liberal Media is the biggest problem with guns in America, you are unimformed about guns & anyone who does know guns can read right thru your anti-gun messege. I hope Mr. Cook never needs a gun with 3 or 4 rounds in the chamber, as most gangs run in packs but I am sure he can defend himself with the old singls shot his pa handed down to him...... What a Stupid Article

December 20, 2012 at 9:14 a.m.
potcat said...

Wow, you have really "drunk" the Kool-Aid David. Don't you dare distort the real reason this happened, Mental Illness!!!

I dont give credence to any group that would ever define neuro- developmental disorders as not being a Mental Illnes. Does it come out of their ass?? Its a BRAIN disorder.

The people who has had the lable changed as not a mental "NEURO" brain illness are only fooling themselves. It doesn't change the fact that it is.

Back to the shooting, NO.1 is Mental Illness...NO.2 is guns, lets not get it confused.

December 20, 2012 at 10:46 a.m.
jesse said...

While autism or aspergers may not have been the root prob.,the very act that he committed defines him as insane!

SANE people don't do stuff like this!

December 20, 2012 at 10:51 a.m.
NedNetterville said...

David, Don't you read the Free Press editorial pages? Didn't you read Thomas Sowell's commentary on Tuesday (12/18) entitled "Invincible ignorance." Here is how he led off: "The key fallacy of so-called gun control laws is that such laws do not in fact control guns. They simply disarm law-abiding citizens, while people bent on violence find firearms readily available." (That, of course, was true in the case of the Newtown mass murderer.) Sowell goes on to provide all the proof a rational, fair-minded person would need to conclude that he is correct in his assessment.

David, try to understand this: Violence begets violence. (Need proof? Google "violence" and nonviolence" and you will find all the proof you need to accept the premise. Or conduct an experiment: go into a bikers' bar and exert a little force against one of the denizens to see if the aphorism holds true.) Violence is defined by the World Health Organization as the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a person, or against a group. That is what gun-control laws do. So do tax laws. They all include enFORCEMENT provisions, which provide for the intentional use of physical force or power to control the benign behavior of peaceful citizens. Any and every act of violence or threatened use of force has seen and unseen consequences. The reciprocal violence may never be understood to have been begotten by a previous violent act because violence can mutate and spread unseen along unpredictable lines only to emerge when least expected--as in Newtown, Connecticut. If you have used force or violence to get what you want or think you need, including the forcible acts of your government agents, you are certainly more responsible for the Newtown massacre than any inanimate object. Shame on you.

Sowell went on to incisively pointed out, "Guns are not the problem. People are the problem--including people who are determined to push gun control laws, either in ignorance of the facts or in defiance of the facts."

December 20, 2012 at 6:58 p.m.
Walden said...

potcat - interesting post. I always took you for a lib. My comments on this thread are decidedly to the left of yours. Surely the Mayan prophecy must be true! AGGGGGAHHHHHH!

December 20, 2012 at 8:49 p.m.
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