Political Animal


December 20, 2012 9:42 AM A New York Police Chief’s Proposal for Newtown Inspired Reform

By Samuel Knight

Michael Biasotti, president of the New York State Chiefs of Police, has a modest approach to combating gun violence, which probably deserves nationwide attention.

In a letter to the New York Daily News on Monday, Biasotti offered a two pronged proposal. Of particular interest, is how he would improve the way we as a nation deal with “a readily identifiable subset of the most severely mentally ill who do become more violent.”

The National Sheriff’s Association and The New York State Association of Chiefs of Police call on the mental health system to increase use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) for mentally ill people who have a history of violence or incarceration.
AOT allows courts to order seriously mentally ill people who have a history of violence or hospitalizations caused by refusing treatment to stay in treatment as a condition of living in the community.

Biasotti also called for a limitation on the “capacity of assault rifle magazines,” saying it would reduce the number of potential victims, while upholding rights afforded by the second amendment.

Which proposal would be more controversial in Congress, I wonder…

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • catclub on December 20, 2012 10:16 AM:

    Which is more controversial?

    I think about equally so.
    One goes against the gun lobby.
    One costs money, possibly serious money.

  • c u n d gulag on December 20, 2012 10:42 AM:

    Yeah, this sounds like a decent start. But how do you do it?

    In concessions to the Conservatives and the NRA, in order to get Obamacare passed, they took out any meaningful ablility for physicians and mental health professionals to ask about, and report, whether their patients had any access to guns, and what they had them for.

    So, unless I'm wrong, unless someone has already acted-up, or acted-out, or does so for the first time, or again, I'm not sure how you find the others who need care, and prevent them from having access to guns.

    The NRA has previously expressly forbidden even the discussion of whether or not people with mental issues should have access to guns.
    In their view - OF COURSE THEY SHOULD!
    Never mind a chicken in every pot, they want a gun in every hand, and one in every pocket.
    Because - FREEDOM! (aka: PROFITS!!!).

  • Anonymous on December 20, 2012 11:41 AM:

    Adam Lanza was not a mental patient. He was troubled, but I doubt this idea would have stopped him. In fact, some reports suggest that the trigger for the massacre was the plan of his mother to modify his care arrangement.

  • estamm on December 20, 2012 12:00 PM:

    How many rounds in a magazine are ok? Really, 10 would be best, but many NRA members would want at least 30. 15 would probably be about where we end up. If Lanza had 10-round magazines, I'm sure he wouldn't have been able to kill as many as he did.

  • schtick on December 20, 2012 2:58 PM:

    The answer to that is easy, mental health will affect many members in Congress so they will be against it.

  • Shivas on December 20, 2012 3:15 PM:

    Car insurance is a reflection of the damage caused by automobiles. Even if you have never been involved in an accident you still have to pay. Also your rates go up according to certain factors; driving history, type of vehicle (muscle cars cost more), number of vehicles, etc.

    Republicans ar so gung-ho on letting the market regulate things, well let's have gun owner insurance the same way we have car insurance. Rates will reflect the cost of the carnage, victims can seek compensation from the fund. Rates for small caliber non-automatic weapons will be lower than automatic high caliber weapons. Assault rifles will pay a (very big) premium. Your rates can go down for factors such as: getting firearms safety training, living in a remote area, demonstrating that you are a subsistence hunter, demonstrating that you have safe and secure storage for your firearms, and not carrying your weapons in public.

    In deference to the 2nd amendment you can have one flintlock musket without having to pay insurance.

    This will open up a whole new area of economic activity. Insurance companies will have a bonanza with all the new business. People will reduce their arsenals down to a manageable number of guns to avoid paying high insurance costs. Gun owners will get training, will lock their weapons up and give up on that silly notion that you can walk around in public armed.

  • exlibra on December 20, 2012 4:22 PM:

    Totally agree with Shivas, @3:15PM: mandatory gun insurance is the best answer of all, whichever way you look at it. I guess that's why it's not even mentioned among all the other, Very Serious, proposals :)

    I'd also add, Shivas, that, in addition to being insured, guns also ought to be: licensed (like cars -- minimum age, exam), registered (like cars), and taxed (personal property, also like cars).

  • jsjiowa on December 20, 2012 4:25 PM:

    Assisted outpatient treatment is very controversial. I worked on a version of it for the state legislature, after several incidents that had put the public at risk. But there is a vocal group of patients who assert their right to refuse treatment. The side effects of medication, they argue, outweigh the possibility that the medication might prevent them from harming themselves or others -- especially when that is just someone's fear, not a guaranteed act that will occur. It is a difficult discussion to have. The different perspectives are almost completely incompatible. Pretty much like discussions about guns: public safety vs. personal rights. Public safety has a hard time winning.