America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 36

We have had laws like them for
two centuries. But instead of only
taking away guns from people who
are believed to be a substantial
risk to others, these older laws also
prevented access to other dangerous weapons.
I am currently producing a comprehensive encyclopedia of American mass murder, with a grant from
the NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund.
In the period from 1657 through
1899, I have found 854 mass murders
committed with weapons other than
firearms (axes, hatchets, knives,
razors, blunt objects, explosives,
poisons, strangulation, drowning,
hanging and a few other odd methods). Today's mass murderers still
use weapons other than guns (autos,
blunt objects, knives and arson), but
you likely won't hear this on national
news-you'll only hear about guns.
The old laws were for committing persons who were mentally
ill and were believed likely to hurt
others, or more commonly, hurt
themselves, going back as far as the
17th century. These were emergency
commitments until a court hearing
could decide if the person was sane
36	

enough to be released. These laws
were increasingly formalized in the
19th and 20th centuries to provide due process-the right of the
accused to be present at the hearing;
the right to cross-examine witnesses; and the right to an attorney.
These older laws are still used
on occasion. A few weeks after the
Newtown tragedy, a science teacher
in Bennington, Vt., posted some
apparently threatening videos. He
was hospitalized " following a mental
health evaluation, " according to
news reports, and disarmed, as he
was in a hospital.
So why have states passed these
new, much-less-effective red-flag
laws? In the 1960s, an odd and shortlived coalition sought to reform our
mental-health system. One group
in this coalition was composed of
well-meaning doctors who sought
to force the states to provide better
care to patients in state mental
hospitals. Their theory was " treat
them or release them. " They felt that
no state would release dangerously
mentally ill people, as the legislature
would obviously find the money
for treatment. The other group was

february 2021 I america's 1 st freedom

Otero County Commissioner Couy
Griffin speaks in January 2020,
in Santa Fe, N.M., as hundreds of
advocates for gun rights rallied at
the New Mexico Statehouse against
a proposed red-flag gun law.
the American Civil Liberties Union
(ACLU), whose activists actually
denied the very existence of mental
illness. Their goal was to so hamstring the commitment process that
few mentally ill people would be
hospitalized.
The ACLU's goal was met by
federal judges, helped by the fact
that some states, such as Wisconsin,
had failed to adequately provide due
process for people being committed.
The patient in one such case was
a teacher hanging from the second-story handrails of an apartment
complex, screaming that communists were taking over the country.
The claim was that the old system
often led to abuse. Doubtless it did.
Too much state power inevitably
leads to trouble. But then, One Flew
Over the Cuckoo's Nest was dramatized fiction. The book was fiction.
The film was not a documentary.
Photo: Morgan Lee / AP



America's First Freedom - February 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of America's First Freedom - February 2021

Contents
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW2
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover2
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 1
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Contents
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 4
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 5
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 6
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 7
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 8
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 9
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 10
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 11
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 12
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 13
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 14
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 15
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 16
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 17
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 18
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 19
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 20
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 21
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 22
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 23
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 24
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 25
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 26
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 27
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 28
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 29
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 30
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 31
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 32
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 33
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 34
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 35
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 36
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 37
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 38
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 39
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 40
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 41
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 42
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 43
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 44
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 45
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 46
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 47
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 48
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 49
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 50
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 51
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 52
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 53
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 54
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 55
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - 56
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - Cover4
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW3
America's First Freedom - February 2021 - CW4
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