John Hickenlooper lauded for bringing mental health into gun control talk

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Governor John Hickenlooper is scheduled to speak at today's reopening of the Aurora Century 16, where "an evening of remembrance" will honor the victims of the shootings on July 20 during a screen of The Dark Knight Rises.

Let's hope the event works as well as Hickenlooper's subsequent talk about guns and mental health played in the Wall Street Journal.

Here's the online version of the WSJ editorial published on January 16:

Gun control has been the exclusive political fixation of President Obama's Washington after Newtown, so perhaps readers will be surprised to learn that some states are being more constructive. One of them is Colorado, where Governor John Hickenlooper is promoting an innovative overhaul of his state's mental health-care system.

In his State of the State address last week, the Democrat said that "our democracy demands" a debate over guns, violence and mental illness -- not least in the aftermath of James Holmes's attack on an Aurora movie theater that killed 12 and wounded 58 in July. "Let me prime the pump," Mr. Hickenlooper said. "Why not have universal background checks for all gun sales?"

There was a lot of media attention for that line, but much less for what followed. As Mr. Hickenlooper continued, "It's not enough to prevent dangerous people from getting weapons. We have to do a better job identifying and helping people who are a threat to themselves and others." His office spent the last five months developing a detailed $18.5 million plan to modernize civil commitment laws while expanding community-based mental health treatment.

The first leg would combine Colorado's three involuntary treatment laws into one streamlined, clarified process and lower the legal threshold to "substantial probability" from "imminent danger." This new burden of proof would protect civil liberties but also make it easier for health-care providers, law enforcement and the courts to ensure that the seriously disturbed get the help they need.

A month prior to Holmes's rampage his University of Colorado psychiatrist broke doctor-patient confidentiality to tell campus police about his fantasies about killing "a lot of people," as Denver's 7News and the Denver Post reported in December. But the doctor rejected an offer to place him on a 72-hour psychiatric hold, for reasons that are unclear.

Mr. Hickenlooper also said that mental health commitment records would be cross-checked in real time with background checks for gun purchases. And all this would be coupled with better treatment options, including more public hospital beds, more specialists in the state's mental health institutions, and five 24-hour psychiatric crisis centers. The Hickenlooper plan would create a better off-ramp for people emerging from care such as more case management, counselling and behavioral rehabilitation.

Good luck finding any mention of any of this from the national press corps. On Monday one newspaper ran a lengthy dispatch on Colorado as "a reluctant crucible for the battle over guns" but didn't find it fit to print a single word about Mr. Hickenlooper's mental health ideas. They received the gloss of a single paragraph in another Colorado gun-control story last week.

Mr. Obama unveils his new gun-control measures as early as Wednesday. But Mr. Hickenlooper's reform effort is likely to make far more progress reducing gun violence and caring for civil society than another reactionary, unthinking guns-only debate.

This is the second WSJ editorial on Hickenlooper's response to the Aurora shootings; the first lauded his "wise words" on national news shows right after the tragedy.

From our archives: "Aurora shooting: Jordan Ghawi, brother of victim, says boycott of Cinemark is 'ridiculous.'"

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Since the vast majority of recent mass shooters was currently receiving mental health care and medications at the time of their crimes, wouldn't the correct deduction be that current mental health care causes mass shootings, not prevents it...? The more logical course of action would be a ban on assault weapons and less access to mental healthcare. I don't see how a doctor asking you if you own guns can help much, expecially if the answer is yes.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

First they came for the communists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

Pastor Martin Niemöller

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

"Mr. Obama unveils his new gun-control measures as early as Wednesday. But Mr. Hickenlooper's reform effort is likely to make far more progress reducing gun violence and caring for civil society than another reactionary, unthinking guns-only debate."


DonkeyHotay topcommenter

Should Mentally Defective people be allowed to Possess Firearms?


Sounds good, but un-intended consequences will develop. I fear ignoring doctor-patient confidentiality might prevent someone concerned about their mental health from seeking help. But it's better than banning gun cosmetics and hoping for the best...I guess. If people with guns feel they might have rights or property taken from them if they seek mental help, they might not seek help. And who will decide what possible mental issues should be available through a CBI background check?


Don't you believe it. Colorado's mental health care system CREATES these shooters and they have no intention to change their ways. The mentally ill are treated as felons even if they have committed no crime at all. Plus Colorado uses it system as a political tool. In a state with the highest suicide rate due to neglect from the gov't we are not the state to lead the way nor is this police union owned governor. This latest move to put the mentally ill on list will cause more and more to stay away from seeking help and when they do they will lie to keep off the list or more to the point lie to stay out of jail even if violence is the furthest thing from their mind.

 The fact is we do not have a reliable gov't anymore. They all want to keep the prison business booming.


@DonkeyHotay Are people who have a desire to own guns Mentally Defective?

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey "If people with guns feel they might have rights or property taken from them if they seek mental help, they might not seek help."

Which PROVES they aren't qualified to be allowed to possess firearms, ipso facto.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @Monkey No, it proves the government can fuck up anything, and you'll support it. Not all people who desire mental health services are as fucked up as you are.

Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@DonkeyHotay @Cognitive_Dissident Show me where I said that.

By your (completely missing) logic, I could ask "So, you support didling little girls?" it's about as applicable, which is to say it's not. In short, your claim that someone used mental health services makes them ineligible to exercise a right (abusing a right is the only thing that makes you ineligible to exercise it) is insanely absurd.

As for "anarchistic," people who use variants of "anarchy" refer to disharmony, chaos, and disorder. There is no one more to blame for the chaos of today than the dysfunctional government which dominates us. I believe all human interaction should be peaceful and voluntary. What's wrong with that?

DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident ... so you support Mentally Defective people being allowed to Possess Firearms.

How very Anarchistic of you.

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