Some Responses to Sandy Hook

After the shooting at the Batman premiere in Colorado earlier this year, Brian Doherty, an expert on firearms policy, did a cool-headed analysis for Russia Today on the errors of clamors for gun control that inevitably follow such tragedies. I think it holds up well in light of what just happened in Connecticut.

 

Its important to remember that these bizarre attacks, and gun murders in general, are rare and getting rarer every year. This is despite the fact that all states have liberalized their gun laws in recent years, and many more Americans are carrying weapons. Four million Americans each year apply for gun licenses. Alarmist news headlines notwithstanding, gun violence has in fact plummeted by half over the last 20 years. Sure, we hear a lot about America having a higher rate of gun deaths than virtually any other place. What we don’t hear nearly as often is that many of these incidents on the official statistics are suicides, or committed by gangs unlikely to be affected even if the federal government were to institute a strict firearms ban tomorrow. Lets not forget the tens of thousands of serious crimes prevented every year by gun owners.

***

This raises another important policy point. Did the fact that this elementary school was declared a ‘gun-free zone’ make it any safer? What if one of the teachers or staff was armed? After Israel witnessed a number of Palestinian terrorist attacks against its schools in the 1970’s, fierce debate ensued about scrapping the harsh firearms regulations instituted under the British Mandate. Eventually, teachers were allowed to carry guns, along with parents and even grandparents who came to help out with security at school buildings and on school trips. The attacks stopped. The soft targets were now not so soft.

***

I know this alleged quote from Morgan Freeman may not be genuine. After all, who could possibly be better to add gravitas to crap you want to spread on the internet? However, I believe the argument has a lot of merit. Concerning the causes of school shootings and how to prevent them:

You want to know why. This may sound cynical, but here’s why.

It’s because of the way the media reports it. Flip on the news and watch how we treat the Batman theater shooter and the Oregon mall shooter like celebrities. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are household names, but do you know the name of a single victim of Columbine? Disturbed people who would otherwise just off themselves in their basements see the news and want to top it by doing something worse, and going out in a memorable way. Why a grade school? Why children? Because he’ll be remembered as a horrible monster, instead of a sad nobody.

CNN’s article says that if the body count “holds up”, this will rank as the second deadliest shooting behind Virginia Tech, as if statistics somehow make one shooting worse than another. Then they post a video interview of third-graders for all the details of what they saw and heard while the shootings were happening. Fox News has plastered the killer’s face on all their reports for hours. Any articles or news stories yet that focus on the victims and ignore the killer’s identity? None that I’ve seen yet. Because they don’t sell. So congratulations  sensationalist media, you’ve just lit the fire for someone to top this and knock off a day care center or a maternity ward next.

You can help by forgetting you ever read this man’s name, and remembering the name of at least one victim. You can help by donating to mental health research instead of pointing to gun control as the problem.

There is significant evidence that excessive talk and media coverage of suicide actually  increases the suicide rate. I would not be surprised if the same pattern appeared in relation to massive gun attacks.

 

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About Cranky Notions
Reactionary. That fella from the Norris scandal.

10 Responses to Some Responses to Sandy Hook

  1. Good analysis. But it isn’t just the tens of thousands of serious crimes prevented every year by gun owners. To these must be added the crimes deterred by the mere possibility that the victim might be armed.

    If I am unarmed but live in a neighbourhood where lots of householders have guns, it is unlikely that a rational criminal will attack my home or any home nearby because how can he know whether or not I will be able to blast him to oblivion? So, rationally, he will move on to a locality he knows is gun-free. Maybe in a Democratic constituency? ;-]

  2. Paul says:

    Great article and commentary John as always! I will cross-post it to my blog which I have been neglecting as of late.

    • Thanks Paul, great to hear from you again.

      Have a Merry Christmas. And thank goodness Sgt. Danny Nightingale was freed in time to celebrate with his family!

    • By the way, I forgot to mention in the post the fact that all of the perpetrators of these atrocities happen to be on mood-altering drugs: http://takimag.com/article/gunsville_usa_jim_goad/print#axzz2FH2j2w00. While correlation does not imply causation, its something that should earn more scrutiny.

      • An autopsy concluded that Columbine killer Eric Harris had the SSRI antidepressant Fluvoxamine in his bloodstream at the time of his death.

      • Jeff Weise, who killed nine people and himself at a Minnesota high school in 2005, was taking increasingly high doses of Prozac at the time of his spree.

      • Robert Hawkins, who killed eight people and himself at an Omaha mall in 2007, reportedly “had been on antidepressants” at the time of his shooting. He allegedly had taken antidepressants since he was six years old.

      • Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 and wounded 23 at Virginia Tech in 2007, had been prescribed Prozac and had previously taken Paxil for a year, but he apparently had ceased taking his medication at the time of the shooting.

      • Andrew Engeldinger killed five people and himself after being fired from his job in 2012. A police search of his house revealed he’d been prescribed the antidepressants Mirtazapine and Trazodone, as well as the insomnia medication Temazepam.

      • Eduardo Sencion, who killed four people and himself with an assault rifle at a Utah IHOP in 2011, was a paranoid schizophrenic whose “medications were changed” during the summer prior to his attack.

      • Robert Kenneth Stewart, who murdered eight people at a North Carolina nursing home in 2009, submitted to a blood test that revealed he had Lexapro, Ambien, Benadryl, and Xanax in his system at the time of his spree.

      • Steven Kazmierczak, who killed five people and himself on Valentine’s Day in 2008, had allegedly been prescribed Xanax, Ambien, and Prozac, although according to his girlfriend he had stopped taking Prozac prior to the massacre.

      • James Eagan Holmes, who shot up a Colorado movie theater in July, reportedly took 100MG of Vicodin before the shooting. He had also allegedly seen three school psychiatrists prior to his attack. Although his psychiatric records are privileged information, in his mug shot he appears to be medicated up to the eyeballs.

      Here’s an interesting article on the controversial drug Lanza was taking, Fanapt: http://www.businessinsider.com/adam-lanza-taking-antipsychotic-fanapt-2012-12

      • Donal Murray says:

        Hey, you have quoted a lot of “reportedly” and “allegedly” and “stopped taking meds” in your list there……..

        Where I’m coming from:

        My son, 33, suffers Clinical Depression, and had his first major episode after coming off his anti-epileptic drugs, without medical supervision. This was also a mood-stabiliser, and is also used in treatment of depression. After this he went into a spiral of ever-increasing depression, which led to a major incident after 1 year.

        The biggest fear we had was for his own life, and the lives of his wife and baby, due to his suicidal tendencies. Thank God, he was treated in a Psychiatric Hospital, and afterwards was put on appropriate anti-depressants, Effexor. This is highly effective for his condition, and has brought him back completely to a situation where he is now capable of living a normal life, with his wife and young child.

        The point I will make is the blasé way you link alleged and reported use and misuse of anti-depressants, to offer an explanation for spree killers, offering a correlation/causation get-out initially.

        For those of us who have every reason to be grateful that modern psychiatry and anti-depressant drug therapies are available, this is highly objectionable.

        Would a more logical answer not lie in the easy availability of high-powered weaponry to these spree killers?

        Why look to meds for an answer, when the Elephant in the Room is the availability of weapons, lethal on a huge scale.

        How many people would these people have killed if these weapons were not readily available?

        Should anti-depressants be banned to lower the instance of spree kellings?

        Or, more logically, should the USA get serious about controlling access to lethal weaponry, despite the so-called 16th Century Constitutional Amendment about the right to bear arms?

      • I stressed that correlation does not necessarily equate to causation and merely said it was something to consider.

        I’m very glad to hear about your son.

        Of course, the vast majority of people on psychiatric medication don’t go on killing sprees. But neither do the owners of the 200 million privately-held firearms in the United States.

  3. Donal Murray says:

    Thanks for the good wishes. We had a great Christmas and all is well with him and his family.

    I absolutely take your point regarding correlation not necessarily equating to causation, and the US Constitutional provision re the “Right to bear Arms”….

    even if it was originally framed in time of War, and was for the purpose of defence of the Nation by local Militia……

    “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

    But, the SC of the US has ruled on this and upheld the individuals right to bear arms.

    I was also drawing attention to the examples you used, where “reportedly” and “alleged” and stopping medication are used.

    I know terrible things can happen as a result of stopping meds, which can cause dreadful thought processes in a depressed person.

    Which is why I feel that the ready and easy access to lethal weaponry should be restricted.

    Of course, the real comparison, IMO, should be those people on psychiatric medication with access to lethal privately-held weaponry versus those who do not have such free access to those weapons.

    Good to debate this issue with you, and thanks for your reply. I feel there will be further debate in the US on this issue.

    [BTW, sorry for using the word blasé in my OP, I should not have.]

    Happy New Year.

    • The Second Amendment was written after the Revolutionary War was over. While there was a fear of the British returning sometime, this was not the main reason for the Amendment. Even with the qualifier at the beginning, it has never been interpreted in a way to deny the individual a right to bear arms. The right to bear arms had already existed prior to the Constitution, in the individual States and the Colonies.

      The reason for the Second Amendment is best summed up by good old Thomas Jefferson, who said: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.”

      Here’s Founding Father James Madison, known also as the “Father of the Constitution”, and author of the Bill of Rights: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.”

      Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed… If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.”

      George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired the Constitutional Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people — that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.”

      Thus, the right to bear arms was not just a national defense measure. It was seen as an important individual right in itself, and advantageous to the maintenance of good governance.

      http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/why-the-2nd-amendment-13-01-02.html

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