Constitutional rights and alleged mental infirmities

Volokh, Eugene VOLOKH at law.ucla.edu
Wed Apr 18 11:45:35 PDT 2007


	I appreciate Prof. Sheridan's proposal, which at least does seem
focused on regulating the especially dangerous rather than disarming
everyone.  But I wonder what others, especially those who have thought
about law, civil rights, and mental health, think about this.  As I
understand it, psychiatrists' estimation of people's level of upset or
depression is an art, not a science.  

	Perhaps schizophrenia can be diagnosed relatively precisely, but
who's depressed or upset (the latter, of course, not even being a
psychological term of art) is, as I understand it, something of a
judgment call.  What do people think about what level of factfinding
should be required -- and can meaningfully be done, if the question is
really finding facts rather than just going entirely on people's
subjective judgment calls -- before a constitutional right (which it
pretty clearly is in Virginia) may be suspended, even temporarily?

	Eugene

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Sheridan [mailto:bobsheridan at earthlink.net] 
> Sent: Wednesday, April 18, 2007 8:10 AM
> To: Volokh, Eugene
> Cc: ConLaw Prof
> Subject: Re: What Kind of People We Are
> 
> I'm willing to approach the matter of preventing massacres by 
> loners from a different approach, whether they use guns or bombs.
> 
> Here's the deal.  The (dead) suspect in the VT case was sold a Glock
> 9 mm for $571 by a Roanoke gun dealer who appeared in a film 
> clip on TV last evening saying that the young man looked 
> normal and that no red flags appeared to the dealer.  But the 
> student's English professor had become so alarmed over his 
> writings that she called the school counseling department, 
> the police, and someone else, but that they could not 
> intervene because he hadn't threatened anyone in particular, 
> or specifically.
> 
> Suppose we had a federally supported uniform mandatory 
> reporting law, the way we do for professionals who deal with 
> suspicions of child sexual abuse, requiring the reporting of 
> people who under no  
> circumstances, while upset, depressed, or deranged, should,   
> temporarily at least, be permitted to possess firearms (or bombs or  
> other WMD).  Immediately a notice goes out to gun dealers.   
> Immediately the local gendarmes perform a home visit, request 
> consent to search, and interview the subject concerning 
> suicidal ideation, homicidal ideation, and mass-homicidal 
> ideation.  No self-respecting farmer, guy who wants to defend 
> his wife, the wife, and anyone else who likes guns, has 
> anything to fear, at least unless and until they go nuts too, 
> not that they ever could, of course.
> 
> rs
> sfls
> 
> 
> 
> On Apr 18, 2007, at 12:22 AM, Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> 
> > 	I don't know who exactly is evading the point here -- 
> but I am having 
> > a hard time grasping Prof. Sheridan's point.  He thinks it's OK for 
> > farmers to have guns, because they aren't committing massacres.  Is 
> > that really going to be the law?  "If you make a living 
> farming, you 
> > may have a gun, but not otherwise"?  "If you are going to 
> college, you 
> > may not own a gun"?  If someone can clarify this for me, 
> I'd be much 
> > obliged.
> >
> > 	One could have a law banning possession of guns in 
> college dorms, or 
> > on college property altogether.  In fact, that is Virginia law.  It 
> > didn't work in this instance.
> >
> > 	To return to what I see as the point, which I indeed don't want
> > evaded:  If people are allowed to have guns "as long as 
> they keep them 
> > on the farm" or as long as they keep them off campus, or what have 
> > you, *mass murderers will not abide by this restriction*.
> >
> > 	Eugene
> >
> >> -----Original Message-----
> >> From: Robert Sheridan [mailto:bobsheridan at earthlink.net]
> >> Sent: Tuesday, April 17, 2007 11:41 PM
> >> To: Volokh, Eugene
> >> Cc: ConLaw Prof
> >> Subject: Re: What Kind of People We Are
> >>
> >> I give up on farmers having guns.  So far as I know, the people 
> >> committing massacres aren't farmers.  They're high school 
> and college 
> >> boys and people taking anti-depressants (supposedly).  
> People want to 
> >> protect themselves with guns?
> >> Fine.  Against whom?  Known people who are threatening or 
> potential 
> >> assailants?  College dorm students want or need guns?  Since when?
> >>
> >> I still say there's a lot of evading the point going on here.
> >>
> >> rs
> >> sfls
> >>
> >> On Apr 17, 2007, at 10:59 PM, Volokh, Eugene wrote:
> >>
> >>> 	I don't get this.  If farmers are allowed to have guns
> >> "as long as
> >>> they keep them on the farm," then the farmer who wants to
> >> embark on a
> >>> mass murder spree can just take the gun with him off the
> >> farm and to
> >>> his chosen scene of the crime.  I say again:  Prohibiting 
> something 
> >>> doesn't mean stopping it, especially when the target of the 
> >>> prohibition is willing to violate prohibitions against murder.
> >>>
> >>> 	The only way to keep the farmer from taking the gun
> >> with him to the
> >>> scene of the crime is to prohibit guns altogether, 
> confiscating the
> >>> 200+ million weapons that are out there.  And that would mean that
> >>> Scott
> >>> and his family wouldn't be able to defend themselves, on
> >> the farm or
> >>> elsewhere.
> >>>
> >>> 	Eugene
> >>>
> >>> Robert Sheridan writes:
> >>>
> >>>> Well, Scott, I don't see too many farmers going on rampages in 
> >>>> colleges, high schools, post offices, or against
> >> presidents and rock
> >>>> stars, so you're off the hook there.
> >>>> They can have all the anti- varmint weapons that they 
> need, in my 
> >>>> view, as long as they keep them on the farm or out in 
> the woods or 
> >>>> the range.  Fair enough?  Oh, yes, and a personal
> >> protection firearm
> >>>> for the wife and kids to keep around the farmhouse and over the 
> >>>> mantle, sorta like Daniel Boone
> >>> had....
> >>> _______________________________________________
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> >>
> > _______________________________________________
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> > Please note that messages sent to this large list cannot be 
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> 


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