Arizona: Let's Start Thinking about Locking Up Lunatics

In my Washington Examiner column "Systematic assassinations not part of our politics," I wrote of the Arizona murders:

If any blame attaches to others, it is to authorities who had notice of his madness and did not do enough to confine him or prevent him from buying a gun. The Pima County sheriff, who was quick to suggest the attack was among the "consequences" of Republican rhetoric, also reported that the shooter's bizarre behavior was brought to the attention of authorities.

Arizona reportedly gives authorities more leeway than most states to put such an individual under restraint or at least prevent him from buying a gun. Perhaps there is some good reason this was not done; but at least there are questions that need to be asked.

Or to put it more bluntly, shouldn't this guy have been locked up? I am pleased to see that William Galston, writing in his New Republic blog, has the same idea, and calls for a reconsideration of the laws that have reduced the possibility of involuntary commitment. Psychiatrist E. Fuller Torrey, writing in the Wall Street Journal, makes the same case and adds interesting detail. Jennifer Rubin, on her new Right Turn blog at the Washington Post notices that, as her headline reads, "Left gives up on guns, moves on to mental health," and applauds the move.

As Galston warns, involuntary commitment is a proposal that is bound to raise some apprehensions and there are serious and difficult questions about how it should be implemented. But there are horrible costs to the policy our society has been following these past several decades.

Michael Barone is a resident felllow at AEI.

Photo Credit: iStockphoto/Krakozawr

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine

What's new on AEI

Rebuilding American defense: A speech by Governor Bobby Jindal
image Smelling liberal, thinking conservative
image Stopping Ebola before it turns into a pandemic
image All too many reasons for pessimism about Europe
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 20
    MON
  • 21
    TUE
  • 22
    WED
  • 23
    THU
  • 24
    FRI
Monday, October 20, 2014 | 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Warfare beneath the waves: The undersea domain in Asia

We welcome you to join us for a panel discussion of the undersea military competition occurring in Asia and what it means for the United States and its allies.

Event Registration is Closed
Tuesday, October 21, 2014 | 8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
AEI Election Watch 2014: What will happen and why it matters

AEI’s Election Watch is back! Please join us for two sessions of the longest-running election program in Washington, DC. 

Event Registration is Closed
Wednesday, October 22, 2014 | 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
What now for the Common Core?

We welcome you to join us at AEI for a discussion of what’s next for the Common Core.

Thursday, October 23, 2014 | 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Brazil’s presidential election: Real challenges, real choices

Please join AEI for a discussion examining each candidate’s platform and prospects for victory and the impact that a possible shift toward free-market policies in Brazil might have on South America as a whole.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.