Maybe not the whole state, but a lot of its citizens seem to be. The headline noted the 65 gun permits revoked for mental illness once SC started comparing its mental health database with its gun permit database. And the lede was the 12 concealed weapons permit applicants who were denied because they came up hot on the mental health check.
But the shocking thing to us was the assertion that the mental health unit of teh State Law Enforcement Division is adding 500 names a week to the database. How many South Carolinians are barking at the moon down there? That’s 26,000 nuts a year! SC has about 4.7 million inhabitants, so just a bit over 1/2 of 1% of them are going bats in a given year.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The chief of South Carolina’s law enforcement agency says a law meant to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns has already led to 12 people being denied a concealed weapons permit.
Chief Mark Keel told legislators Friday that the State Law Enforcement Division has also revoked 65 permits because of the law approved last May.
The law ensured the names of residents declared mentally ill by a South Carolina court go into a federal database so they can be caught by a background check. It was already illegal to sell guns to someone who is mentally ill. But the lack of reporting meant gun shops didn’t get that information.
Keel says the agency’s new mental health reporting unit averages putting 500 names a week into the database.
The 87 mental patients (12 denials + 65 revocations) seem to be the tip of the nutberg.
So we thought we’d check some official data. Is a half percent of a state being nuts, we hate to use the word, but, normal? So we went to NIMH, which ought to have some good statistics on the nation’s laughing-academicians. Turns out, half a percent is nothing, according to the nation’s Official Keeper of the Nut Job Count:
An estimated 26.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older — about one in four adults — suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year.1 When applied to the 2004 U.S. Census residential population estimate for ages 18 and older, this figure translates to 57.7 million people.2
Yipes, stripes! That means 1.25 million Palmetto Staters should be nuts, unless the state’s much saner than average.
Except it doesn’t seem right for more than one in four people to be laughing-academy material. So they break it down: 9.5% mood disorders (that doesn’t sound so bad, but wait); 18.1% anxiety disorders, 9.1% personality disorders, plus a percent or so for Schizophrenia or Autism. And it turns out that within each category, there are seriously disabling and “dude, you’re gunning for a phony disability” kinds of illnesses. They also count suicides as mentally ill, even when noting the peak suicide demographic is men over 85. (They might be despairing, but it’s hard to argue these elderly suicides are all nuts).
And yeah, “mood disorders” is a clinical term which doesn’t necessarily mean the teenage sulks, but could encompass full Norman Bates oughta-be-locked-up-itis.
Yes, their numbers don’t add up, and yes, they’re obviously not using the same definition as South Carolina.
Now, here’s another statistical check the Associated (with terrorists) Press reporter could have done, if he were interested in reporting rather than arguing. He could have asked himself… is the proportion of mentally ill people applying for pistol permits greater or lesser than average?
The last year for which SLED has posted the data is 2010, which shows a total of 119,340 pistol permits (the number is certainly much larger in 2014). That means:
- The percent of SC residents who have a license is approximately: 2.5%.
- The percent of LTC applicants who were revoked or denied for mental illness is approximately: 0.073%. That’s 73 thousandths of a percent.
And we wonder how many of these 87 will clear their names on appeal, because the mental illness adjudication applies to someone with a similar name, or was a transient thing (i.e. a period of depression not rising to the level of a disorder, resolved) years ago. But even if none of them do, it looks like the permit holders (and applicants) are saner than normal. Whatever “normal” is.
Able was I ere I saw Elba, is all we have to say about that.
While only up to 2010 stats are fully online, broken down by county, SLED (South Carolina Law Enforcement Division) has posted aggregate 2013 stats (the ones we want) as follows:
Active Permits as of December 31, 2013 —– 229,456
Permits Issued in 2013 ———————- 83,012
Permits Denied in 2013 ————————1,272
Permits Renewed in 2013 ——————— 38,617
Permits Revoked in 2013 ———————— 364
That means that:
- The percent of SC residents who have a license is approximately: 4.9% as of December 31.
- The percent of LTC applicants who were revoked or denied for mental illness is approximately: 0.038%. That’s 38 thousandths of a percent. The percentage who were denied and revoked for all purposes (including the nut jobs) is aboout 7/10 of a percent.