Archive - Apr 2007
People are using the Va Tech massacre to support their view about gun control: either that there should be more or less restrictions on gun ownership. I think this incident is an anomaly, something that really doesn't have much helpful to say about which direction gun laws should go. The best thing I've heard lately about this story, though, is that he should have be ineligible to purchase a gun because a court had declared him a danger to himself. I don't want to own a gun. I don't have a problem with law-abiding, mentally-stable people having guns as long as they keep them out of the reach of children. If you've got mental problems, though, you've got no business with a gun. From the article by Michael Luo in the NY Times:
Under federal law, the Virginia Tech gunman Seung-Hui Cho should have been prohibited from buying a gun after a Virginia court declared him to be a danger to himself in late 2005 and sent him for psychiatric treatment, a state official and several legal experts said Friday.
Federal law prohibits anyone who has been "adjudicated as a mental defective," as well as those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility, from buying a gun.
The special justice's order in late 2005 that directed Mr. Cho to seek outpatient treatment and declared him to be mentally ill and an imminent danger to himself fits the federal criteria and should have immediately disqualified him, said Richard J. Bonnie, chairman of the Supreme Court of Virginia's Commission on Mental Health Law Reform.
A spokesman for the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives also said that if Mr. Cho had been found mentally defective by a court, he should have been denied the right to purchase a gun.
Now we've got to figure out how to fix the system for background checks. Of course, he could he found illegal ways to get guns, but I think we'd benefit by making it harder for the mentally unstable to get firearms.
Knowing what harm mentally ill people can do, we may need to re-calibrate the balance between public safety and privacy rights. Here's an article the describes the difficulties universities have in dealing with the mentally ill: link
From an article of the same title from the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's web site:
New landmark research concludes that alcohol and tobacco are more dangerous than some illegal drugs like marijuana or ecstasy and should be classified as such in legal systems, according to a new British study.
Nutt and colleagues used three factors to determine the harm associated with any drug: the physical harm to the user, the drug's potential for addiction, and the impact on society of the drug's use.
The researchers asked two groups of experts â€” psychiatrists specializing in addiction and legal or police officials with scientific or medical expertise â€” to assign scores to 20 different drugs, including heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, and LSD.
Heroin and cocaine were ranked most dangerous, followed by barbiturates and street methadone. Alcohol was the fifth-most harmful drug and tobacco the ninth most harmful. Cannabis came in 11th, and near the bottom of the list was ecstasy.
Tobacco causes 40 per cent of all hospital illnesses, while alcohol is blamed for more than half of all visits to hospital emergency rooms. The substances also harm society in other ways, damaging families and occupying police services.
While experts agreed that criminalizing alcohol and tobacco would be challenging, they said that governments should review the penalties imposed for drug abuse and try to make them more reflective of the actual risks and damages involved.
Finn's first soccer game was Saturday afternoon. He seemed to have a good time running around. He made a point to tell me that he didn't fall down though once he came close to falling over in the goal. It did seem that one of his main objectives was to adjust his running trajectory to avoid any collisions with many of the other players who were a head taller than he...and with the secondary objective of getting near the ball and kicking it as a nice-to-have bonus.
Here are a few photos and a video:
Sunday afternoon Elliot went with a friend to a Great Lakes Loons baseball game. He had a hot dog, popcorn, and a lemonade. They also played some hitting game, ran the bases after the game, etc. Here is a photo:
The Star Wars film festivals continued this week with Return of the Jedi. The Ewoks were a hit with the kids. Unlike episodes 4 and 5, there were moments in 6 where one kid or the other got off the couch and started playing with toys. Not sure if that means they found 6 to be less exciting or if watching a Star Wars movie isn't quite as thrilling by the time you get to the third one. Probably a little of both.