After the recent mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the media and the NRA and Congress have us blaming anything and everything – except for the one thing that really makes sense – drugs – no, not cocaine, marijuana, heroin, or others – I believe the culprit is antipsychotic drugs that are prescribed for a variety of mental health issues.
Even though many of the recent mass shootings were “executed” with semi-automatic assault weapons with some kind of high capacity clip, the NRA has responded in a very calculating manner.
The first thing the NRA does, following a mass shooting, is to clam up. They say absolutely nothing for a day or two, waiting for authorities to release basic information on the shooter and his weapon(s) of choice used to commit the crime. Then they (the NRA) rally the troops to all chime like crows on power lines that “Guns do not kill people” – and instead say, “people kill people.” The NRA is nauseatingly predictable – a few days after the smoke has cleared, so to speak, the NRA comes up with their list of culprits behind the violence. The first thing the NRA comes up with as the primary cause of the shooting is, of course, “violence” – everything from violent games kids play on their computers to violent films to violence on television.
What I find interesting is that all of the above “sources” of violence exist in Canada, England, Australia, New Zealand, and the rest of the free countries in Europe and Asia, yet the incidence of mass shootings is much less elsewhere. Why?
So, if violence is the lynchpin behind mass shootings, why don’t we see a large amount of killings in the other countries and continents mentioned above?
From what I have read, some professionals say that the number of mass shootings here in the U.S. is because of the proliferation of weapons in the U. S. I am not sure if the number of guns is the primary reason for mass shootings – I am sure it is a factor but I also believe there is a more common thread behind all these deaths.
The question is this, “Would new gun legislation help slow down or reverse the high incidence of mass shootings?” That is a complex question that deserves and requires more than a simple “one word” answer.
If high capacity clips were outlawed, I am confident that the frequency, or incidence, of mass murders would not go down. A few weeks ago, I probably would have answered that question differently, but after reading dozens of blogs and articles on the subject, I have rethought my opinion.
I also feel that if certain assault weapons were banned, it would not necessarily result in fewer mass shootings. It might, however, result in fewer deaths per mass shooting because of the shooter having to change clips more frequently. i.e. 15 – 10 round clips versus 5 – 30 round clips. Each time a shooter stops to change clips, there is time for more potential victims to escape.
My guess is that most of you reading that probably think I am way off base here, but I assure you – I am not. Hang in there for a few more paragraphs, please.
Some of you know where I am going with this – but for those of you who have not figured it out, here it comes.
First, I am not a supporter of the NRA – and I do not believe any of their rhetoric. It is ludicrous for the NRA to say that guns do not kill people.
Does anyone remember that old saying that we were all exposed to early in life? If not, it goes like this, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” If memory serves me right, little girls, to this day, teasingly sing that to each other. I am not trying to single out girls – it’s just that girls sing it better.
If a person graduates from a stick to a 2 x 4 piece of wood, then someone could probably be killed. If a person graduates from a stone to a rock and someone is hit hard on the head, there is a good chance that person could be killed as well.
Take that logic one step further and progressively increase the weapon from sticks to rocks to slingshots and then to a bow and arrow and then to “bb guns” guns, pellet guns and then to handguns and eventually high powered rifles and assault weapons.
The progression in weaponry results in a higher degree of likelihood that victim(s) WILL die. Also, as the capability of these weapons increase from a bolt-action rifle that can only handle a single shot at a time to an assault rifle that can fire off a 30 round clip in seconds, there is the likelihood of higher numbers of people dying in the process.
If a person shoots another person with a small handgun, it might make page 5 of the local morning paper where the shooting occurred and the shooting will get less than 30 seconds on the local news.
But, if a person goes into a theater and shoots 10 or more people with an assault weapon, the shooting will make the headline on dozens of papers across the country and regular television news and talk shows will be interrupted to advise viewers that “x” number of people were killed and/or injured at a theater complex – even if that theater complex is a thousand or more miles away. The mass shooting event will occupy time on almost every news and talk show for weeks.
The script is highly predictable – the media will do exhaustive research into the shooter, his family, his mental health history, along with a thorough analysis of his personality and we soon find out that this person was practically a genius, but a loner who recently dropped out of honors classes at a local university. We also find out that, his grades were recently in a downward spiral and that he was seeing a psychologist or a psychiatrist and recently adjusted dosage or stopped taking his meds entirely.
I have avoided being gender and ethnic “neutral” because most mass shooters are white males – many are in their late teens up to their mid-twenties – few of them are older.
After a few days of background history of the shooter, the NRA chimes in with their canned response in an effort to blame everyone and everything BUT the gun – even though it is usually an assault weapon with some kind of high capacity clip or drum.
Frequently there is some reference to the shooter having mental health issues, but that discussion soon dissipates and the focus shifts to the gun and how we can outlaw certain guns and clips. Advocates of tightening gun control are confident that the number of mass shootings will go down if we make assault weapons harder to get.
The recent shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School resulted in an increased discussion on mental health and that more money needs to be appropriated to provide funding in an effort to better identify and treat those with mental health issues – to get them the health care (and meds) to decrease the possibility of another mass shooting. Herein lies the rub – meds.
My question is this. Why is it that the majority of those who commit mass shootings are white males? Also, why do most of these mass shootings occurring in the United States? Lastly, why is it that the majority of mass shooters is currently on, or has recently discontinued, antipsychotic meds?
At least 14 recent school shootings (not counting Sandy Hook) were perpetrated by individuals either who were on psychiatric drugs or who recently discontinued psychiatric drugs.
Other murders and murder suicides (other than done at schools – elementary to high schools to colleges) have been done by individuals who were on psychiatric drugs or had recently discontinued the same.
I am confident that there is a link between a shooter and the initiation, altering dosage level or discontinuing these dangerous drugs. I believe these shooters, prior to planning a mass killing spree, were going through significant pain and each probably felt that an event such as a mass shooting was the only way to deal with the pain – resulting in causing significant pain and death to others and ending in taking one’s life in a dramatic grand finale to the tragedy.
I do not believe that Asperger’s was the cause of the shooting at Sandy Hook. I do, however, suspect that the meds he was either taking or had recently discontinued possibly became the “trigger” behind the shooting. It could even be that he might have adjusted his med dosage – either way, I believe the culprit behind the majority, if not all, of the mass shootings are meds taken to treat mental health issues.
We have a vicious circle going on – mental health professionals are not talking at all and the NRA is not blaming prescription drugs – even though they are saying that mental health issues are possibly behind the shootings. Everyone is dancing around the real issue.
Some professionals are suggesting that there should not be weapons in the homes of those suffering with mental health issues. I am sure that the NRA would not like restrictions put on households where individuals are on antipsychotic medications because there are almost 50 million individuals in the U. S. taking meds for various mental health issues. That number represents almost 16 percent of the U. S. population and that is a potentially huge market for NRA membership and gun and ammo sales at gun stores and gun shows.
There is a movement to require background checks before anyone can purchase a weapon – but regarding mental health, a person would have to have been adjudicated as “mentally defective” or have been committed to a mental institution before that person would be prevented from purchasing firearms and ammunition.
The problem with the state and federal laws is that the percentage of Americans who either have been adjudicated as being mentally defective or have been committed to an institution is small compared to the “other” 50 million Americans on psychotic meds.
When you read info on these meds, including warnings, it is scary. The U. S. Drug Enforcement Agency has released warnings saying that use of these meds might result in some individuals feeling worse instead of better and they may experience unusual feelings of agitation, hostility or anxiety, or have impulsive or disturbing thoughts, such as thoughts of self-harm or harm to others.“
Terms hinting at the possibility of suicide or even murder are said in softer terminology like “psychiatric events such as visual hallucinations, suicidal ideation, psychotic behavior, as well as aggression or violent behavior.”
Many of the recent mass shootings have resulted in aggression and violent behavior, including death and destruction – ending in suicide as the final violent act.
Therefore, even though I support a ban on assault weapons, including a ban on high capacity clips as well as tighten background checks at gun shows, I believe we also demand Congressional hearings on antipsychotic prescription drugs. Our pharmaceutical industry is now advocating prescription drugs for almost any emotional or mental health issue.
Unfortunately, when one reads up on the drug or asks a medical or mental health professional how these drugs work – the frequent answer is something like, “we really are not sure exactly how these drugs work.”
To add insult to injury, people taking antipsychotic drugs are also taking a variety of prescription drugs for other ailments and many are taking a variety of nutritional supplements.
The combination of all these pills being ingested could make a volatile cocktail, resulting in aggressive, or even violent and sometimes deadly behavior.
The following is from http://www.suntimes.com/news/otherviews/17203627-452/too-unbalanced-to-be-armed.html
“Survey data from the National Institute of Mental Health indicate that nearly half of all Americans qualify for a psychiatric diagnosis at some point in their lives. Should half of us lose our Second Amendment rights, at least for the duration of whatever mental disorder (depression, anxiety, addiction, etc.) afflicts us? Assuming a prescription for Prozac, Xanax, or Adderall is not enough to disqualify someone from owning a gun, what should the standard be?
The malleability of mental illness was also apparent at a 2007 debate among the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination. After seeing a YouTube video in which Jered Townsend of Clio, Mich., asked about gun control and referred to his rifle as “my baby,” Joseph Biden said: “If that’s his baby, he needs help. … I don’t know that he is mentally qualified to own that gun. I’m being serious.”
So perhaps excessive attachment to your guns should be grounds for taking them away. Biden, by the way, is in charge of formulating the policies the Obama administration will pursue in response to Lanza’s horrifying crimes.”
My closing remark:
I really wonder if the first people who should lose their right to bear arms are those who say, “I will give up my gun when they pry my cold, dead fingers from around it” – a bumper sticker slogan supporting gun rights and dating from at least March 1972.