Examines the corollaries between 1776 and today. Only 11 minutes long.
Does dialing 911 actually protect crime victims?
Researchers found that less than 5 percent of all calls dispatched to police are made quickly enough for officers to stop a crime or arrest a suspect. The average response time to a 9-1-1 call is 10 minutes nationwide. The 911 bottom line: “cases in which 911 technology makes a substantial difference in the outcome of criminal events are extraordinarily rare.”
It’s not just that the police cannot protect you. They don’t even have to come when you call. In most states the government and police owe no legal duty to protect individual citizens from criminal attack. The District of Columbia’s highest court spelled out plainly the “fundamental principle that a government and its agents are under no general duty to provide public services, such as police protection, to any particular individual citizen.”
The law is similar in most states. A Kansas statute precludes citizens from suing the government or the police for negligently failing to enforce the law or for failing to provide police or fire protection. A California law states that “neither a public entity nor a public employee is liable for failure to establish a police department or otherwise provide police protection service.” As one California appellate court wrote, “police officers have no affirmative statutory duty to do anything.”
The state legislatures and courts protect government entities and police departments from civil liability for failing to provide adequate police protection. Some states invoke the “sovereign immunity” defense, a throwback to the days when the subjects were forbidden to sue the king. Other states have statutes that prevent legal challenges to police “discretionary” functions. Courts preclude lawsuits in those states by holding that answering emergency calls or providing police protection are “discretionary” functions.
Many states evade liability by relying on the ironically named “public duty” doctrine. Like a George Orwell slogan, that doctrine says: police owe a duty to protect the public in general, but not to protect any particular individual.
A ten year old Virginia boy who was arrested earlier this month for taking a plastic toy gun to school is facing a potentially permanent criminal record over the incident.
The boy, who remains unnamed by the media, hit headlines after Douglas MacArthur Elementary School officials searched his bag and found an orange tipped plastic toy gun, following complaints from parents who said their children had seen the boy playing with the fake firearm on the school bus.
Instead of exercising common sense, the school officials called the police, and the boy was taken into custody.
Although this seems to be one of the most extreme cases of children being disciplined over toy guns and gun gestures, it is far from isolated. As we have seen over the past few weeks, in the wake of the Sandy Hook shooting, it is now a daily occurrence.
Ealier this month, a student in Florence, Arizona was suspended because he had a picture of a gun on his computer.
At the beginning of the month, it was reported that a six-year-old kindergartner in South Carolina was suspended for taking a small transparent plastic toy gun to school for a show and tell.
A day before that incident we reported on the five-year-old in Massachusetts who faced suspension for building a small toy gun out of lego bricks and play-shooting his classmates.
We also reported on an incident that erupted when a discussion between two children about a toy nerf gun caused a lockdown and a massive armed police response at two elementary schools in the Bronx.
In another incident, a Long Island high school was also placed on lock down for 6 hours in response to a student carrying a toy nerf gun.
In yet another recent incident, a five-year-old girl was suspended after a three hour grilling, and described as a “terroristic threat” when she brought a pink bubble gun to school.
A South Philadelphia elementary student was searched in front of classmates and threatened with arrest after she mistakenly brought a “paper gun” to school.
A 6-year-old boy was suspended from his elementary school in Maryland for making a gun gesture with his hand and saying “pow”.
Days after that incident, another two 6-year-olds in Maryland were suspended for pointing their fingers into gun shapes while playing “cops and robbers” with each other.
In Oklahoma, a five-year-old boy was also recently suspended for making a gun gesture with his hand.
And finally, a 13-year-old Middle School seventh grade student in Pennsylvania was also suspended for the same hand gesture.
Eric Harris age 17 (first on Zoloft then Luvox) and Dylan
Klebold aged 18 (Columbine school shooting in Littleton, Colorado), killed
12 students and 1 teacher, and wounded 23 others, before killing themselves.
Klebold's medical records have never been made available to the public.
Jeff Weise, age 16, had been prescribed 60 mg/day of Prozac (three times the average starting dose for adults!) when he shot his grandfather, his grandfather's girlfriend and many fellow students at Red Lake, Minnesota. He then shot himself. 10 dead, 12 wounded.
Cory Baadsgaard, age 16, Wahluke (Washington state) High School, was on Paxil (which caused him to have hallucinations) when he took a rifle to his high school and held 23 classmates hostage. He has no memory of the event.
Chris Fetters, age 13, killed his favorite aunt while taking Prozac.
Christopher Pittman, age 12, murdered both his grandparents while taking Zoloft.
Mathew Miller, age 13, hung himself in his bedroom closet after taking Zoloft for 6 days.
Kip Kinkel, age 15, (on Prozac and Ritalin) shot his parents while they slept then went to school and opened fire killing 2 classmates and injuring 22 shortly after beginning Prozac treatment.
Luke Woodham, age 16 (Prozac) killed his mother and then killed two students, wounding six others.
Michael Carneal (Ritalin), age 14, opened fire on students at a high school prayer meeting in West Paducah, Kentucky. Three teenagers were killed, five others were wounded..
Andrew Golden, age 11, (Ritalin) and Mitchell Johnson, aged 14, (Ritalin) shot 15 people, killing four students, one teacher, and wounding 10 others.
TJ Solomon, age 15, (Ritalin) high school student in Conyers, Georgia opened fire on and wounded six of his class mates.
Rod Mathews, age 14, (Ritalin) beat a classmate to death with a bat.
James Wilson, age 19, (various psychiatric drugs) from Breenwood, South Carolina, took a .22 caliber revolver into an elementary school killing two young girls, and wounding seven other children and two teachers.
Elizabeth Bush, age 13, (Paxil) was responsible for a school shooting in Pennsylvania
Jason Hoffman (Effexor and Celexa) – school shooting in El Cajon, California
Jarred Viktor, age 15, (Paxil), after five days on Paxil he stabbed his grandmother 61 times.
Chris Shanahan, age 15 (Paxil) in Rigby, ID who out of the blue killed a woman.
Jeff Franklin (Prozac and Ritalin), Huntsville, AL, killed his parents as they came home from work using a sledge hammer, hatchet, butcher knife and mechanic's file, then attacked his younger brothers and sister.
Neal Furrow (Prozac) in LA Jewish school shooting reported to have been court-ordered to be on Prozac along with several other medications.
Kevin Rider, age 14, was withdrawing from Prozac when he died from a gunshot wound to his head. Initially it was ruled a suicide, but two years later, the investigation into his death was opened as a possible homicide. The prime suspect, also age 14, had been taking Zoloft and other SSRI antidepressants.
Alex Kim, age 13, hung himself shortly after his Lexapro prescription had been doubled.
Diane Routhier was prescribed Welbutrin for gallstone problems. Six days later, after suffering many adverse effects of the drug, she shot herself.
Billy Willkomm, an accomplished wrestler and a University of Florida student, was prescribed Prozac at the age of 17. His family found him dead of suicide – hanging from a tall ladder at the family's Gulf Shore Boulevard home in July 2002.
Gareth Christian, Vancouver, age 18, was on Paxil when he committed suicide in 2002,
(Gareth's father could not accept his son's death and killed himself.)
Julie Woodward, age 17, was on Zoloft when she hung herself in her family's detached garage.
Matthew Miller was 13 when he saw a psychiatrist because he was having difficulty at school. The psychiatrist gave him samples of Zoloft. Seven days later his mother found him dead, hanging by a belt from a laundry hook in his closet.
Kurt Danysh, age 18, and on Prozac, killed his father with a shotgun. He is now behind prison bars, and writes letters, trying to warn the world that SSRI drugs can kill.
Hammad Memon, age 15, shot and killed a fellow middle school student. He had been diagnosed with ADHD and depression and was taking Zoloft and "other drugs for the conditions."
Matti Saari, a 22-year-old culinary student, shot and killed 9 students and a teacher, and wounded another student, before killing himself. Saari was taking an SSRI and a benzodiazapine.
Steven Kazmierczak, age 27, shot and killed five people and wounded 21 others before killing himself in a Northern Illinois University auditorium. According to his girlfriend, he had recently been taking Prozac, Xanax and Ambien. Toxicology results showed that he still had trace amounts of Xanax in his system.
Finnish gunman Pekka-Eric Auvinen, age 18, had been taking antidepressants before he killed eight people and wounded a dozen more at Jokela High School – then he committed suicide.
Asa Coon from Cleveland, age 14, shot and wounded four before taking his own life. Court records show Coon was on Trazodone.
The Catholic Church's position on gun control is not easy to find; there are dozens of speeches and talks and a few documents that call for much tighter regulation of the global arms trade, but what about private gun ownership?
The answer is resoundingly clear: Firearms in the hands of civilians should be strictly limited and eventually completely eliminated.
The most direct statement comes in the bishops' "Responsibility, Rehabilitation and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal Justice" from November 2000.
"As bishops, we support measures that control the sale and use of firearms and make them safer -- especially efforts that prevent their unsupervised use by children or anyone other than the owner -- and we reiterate our call for sensible regulation of handguns."
That's followed by a footnote that states: "However, we believe that in the long run and with few exceptions -- i.e. police officers, military use -- handguns should be eliminated from our society."