What has really changed in the past several decades is the far greater incidence of adults and schoolchildren who are prescribed psychiatric medications. That this link between medicated America and violence is not more well known by the public is the result of patient privacy and confidentiality laws as well as the United States government ignoring, suppressing, and refusing to own up to its central role in the debacle.
The December 14, 2012 massacre by a crazed, 20-year-old gunman Adam Lanza, which claimed the lives of 27 innocent people, including 20 elementary school children between the ages of 5 and 10, at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, is a heartbreaking tragedy. Such an act of violence shocked the conscience of the nation and of the world. It has prompted a serious discussion across the United States what can be done to prevent tragedies of this nature from occurring again.
Predictably, gun-control advocates have seized upon this teachable moment. With a fearful and angry public clamoring for “something to be done” about protecting our children from senseless gun violence, politicians over the next few weeks will propose all manner of restrictions on gun ownership and possession. Politicians from solid blue Democratic states will demand the most draconian measures that all firearm ownership by civilians be strictly prohibited. They may even propose that armed law enforcement agents go door to door to confiscate firearms from gun owners who had filled out Form 4473 when they purchased them from Federal Firearm License-holding gun shops.
Politicians from red Republican states will counter by proposing that existing firearm laws be more strictly enforced against criminals, and vote to enact stricter registration requirements to deny firearms to the mentally-ill and to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Milquetoast Republicans, like John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Thad Cochran (R-MN) etc., will fall over themselves to capitulate, in the name of bipartisan compromise, to the most extreme measures, all while defending the new measures as “sensible gun control laws” or necessary legislation”to close loopholes” in existing laws. Either way, one can be certain that the White House, blue politicians, and some red politicians will all compete over who can appear to love America’s children the most by passing the most restrictive laws that current public outrage will support.
The unrelenting media barrage in the next few weeks and months will be that something must be done right now, immediately. Both gun control advocates and politicians like New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg will want to strike now against gun owners, even before the bodies of the children have been lain to their eternal rest and before calmer minds can have a chance to prevail. They will claim that the presidential victory of Barack Obama last November gave him a mandate and that elections have consequences, favorable ones for his political supporters and dire ones for his political opponents. President Obama may be able to craft strict legislation in the Democratically-controlled Senate and with the cooperation of Republican collaborators in the Senate and in the House of Representatives. Since he does not have to run for another election, he may even issue an executive order, bypassing Congress altogether with impunity, and ban most if not all civilian gun possession in the name of public safety.
It is worth noting here that, contrary to current media reports, the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was not the worst massacre of schoolchildren in history. On May 18, 1927, school board treasurer Andrew Kehoe detonated three bombs containing hundreds of pounds of dynamite at the Bath Consolidated school in Bath Township, Michigan. The explosions claimed the lives of 38 elementary school students between the ages of 7 and 14 and two teachers. Although the massacre was widely reported on the front pages of the national and local newspapers of the day, the politicians of the time did not rush to enact any new federal or state laws in response. People then did not love their children any less than we do now. However, they realized that prohibiting a specific type of weapon is ineffectual and ignores the reality that weapons do not wield themselves; there is always a murderous person behind them who is responsible for mass murders. They understood that the human mind and its capacity for evil is the only weapon that any murderer needed and that it cannot possibly be banned by legislation or confiscated by the government.
If any new legislation is passed, it will not be effective against determined mass murderers. If the access of would-be mass murderers to firearms is restricted, they will find access to firearms or may even resort to alternatives such as knives and poisons. Coincidentally, on the same day that Adam Lanza murdered 20 elementary school students, 22 schoolchildren were knifed by a madman in Central China. In 2010, 28 children were slashed by another madman in Eastern China. (http://cour.at/UY2iOg). The bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City was accomplished with fertilizer, not with firearms. An insane person laced Tylenol Extra Strength capsules with cyanide and caused the deaths of several people in Chicago in 1982, not with firearms. Legislation cannot stop mass murders from happening by simply banning the weapons used in the same way that it cannot stop mass murders from taking place by banning the occurrence of insanity.
Early reports in the media indicate that the killer Adam Lanza suffered from Asperger’s syndrome, a high functioning form of autism. Other reports in the media suggest that the weapons used by Lanza, two Glock and Sig Sauer semi-automatic pistols, were legally owned and registered to the killer’s mother, Nancy Lanza. (http://fxn.ws/UgYpBh). Nancy Lanza had been the first of her son’s victims when she was shot in the face and killed at her home. Stricter sales and gun registration requirements would not have stopped Lanza from stealing the weapons from their legal owner. Even the outright confiscation of civilian firearms could not have prevented Lanza from obtaining them. Lanza could have just as well stolen the same firearms from a criminal who would have possessed the firearms illegally in defiance of the law or even from members of the armed forces or the police. Every year, thousands of firearms are stolen from supposedly secure military bases and police stations.
After the tragedy, Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) was interviewed on C-SPAN and said:
“We need to find out what happened and what drove this individual to this place. We have to be careful about suggesting new gun laws. We need to look at what drives a crazy person to do these kinds of actions and make sure we’re enforcing the laws that are currently on the books. And, yes, definitely, we need to do everything possible to make sure that something like this never happens again.”
If Rep. Rodgers and other people want “to do everything possible”, there is another angle to the massacres and murders committed by disturbed individuals over the past few decades, which has not been sufficiently explored or investigated. It is the adverse effects that commonly-prescribed anti-depressants have upon a minority of patients and resulting in murderous and tragic consequences.
Dr. David Healy is psychiatrist, psychopharmacologist, and professor of Psychiatry in Wales. He maintains a website (http://www.ssristories.com/) in which he chronicles 4,800 news stories and articles about individuals who had been prescribed by their doctors anti-depressants known as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). SSRIs include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline), Paxil (paroxetine), Celexa (citalopam), Lexapro (escitalopram), Luvox (fluvoxamine), Remeron (mirtazapine), Anafranil (clomipramine), Effexor (venlafaxine), Cymbalta (duloxetine), Pristiq (desvenlafaxine), Wellbutrin (bupropion) (also marketed as Zyban). His database shows how these medicated psychiatry patients proceeded to instigate mass murders, school shootings, murders, suicides, workplace violence, post-partum infanticide, road rage violence, and other serious crimes.
Dr. Healy’s website attributes 66 incidents of school shootings, stabbings, hostage takings, stand-offs, plots, and threats, from 1988 to 2011, to the side effects of Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil, Celexa, Wellbutrin, Luvox, Lexapro, and similar anti-depressants. Let us examine a few of the more notorious and newsworthy cases. In May of 1998, 15-year old Kip Kinkel of Eugene, Oregon murdered his parents and two classmates at Thurston High School in Springfield, Oregon. He had begun taking the antidepressant drug Prozac in 1997. In April of 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold murdered 15 and wounded 24 of their classmates in Columbine, Colorado. Harris and Klebold had been placed in anger management classes. Klebold’s medical records have been sealed, but Harris was taking Zoloft and Luvox. In June of 2001, 37-year-old Japanese man Mamoru Takuma stabbed to death eight first- and second-graders and wounded at least 15 other students and teachers in a school in Western Japan. He had taken 10 times his normal dose of anti-depressants before the attack. In March of 2005, 16-year-old Jeffrey James Weise of Red Lake, Minnesota murdered nine people, including five of his fellow students and a teacher at the Red Lake Senior High School, as well as murdering his grandfather and his grandfather’s girlfriend. He was prescribed 60 milligrams per day of Prozac, three times the average prescription. In April of 2007, Seung-Hui Cho murdered 32 students and faculty at Virginia Tech. Fellow students related that Cho had taken prescription medication to treat his depression and possible autism. In November of 2007, Pekka-Eric Auvinen of Finland killed 8 students and wounded 10 students at his high school. He had taken Cipralex, Zoloft, Luvox, and Prozac.
Other mass murders may also be traced to psychiatric drugs. It is extremely likely that Nidal Malik Hassan, the psychiatrist who killed 13 people and wounded 29 more at the Fort Hood military base in November of 2009, medicated himself with the anti-depressant drugs at his disposal. Jared Loughner of Tucson, Arizona shot U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in the head and killed federal judge John Roll and five others in January of 2011. He had shown signs of depression in 2006 and was later diagnosed with schizophrenia. In what may only be tragic irony, Loughner is now being forcibly medicated in prison with anti-psychotic drugs, likely similar to the ones that started him down the path to mass murder. James Holmes who killed 12 movie theater goers and wounded 58 others in July of 2012 in Aurora, Colorado was a psychiatric patient and was likely prescribed drugs by his doctors. We at The Cassandra Times believe that, in due time, it will be shown that Adam Lanza had also been prescribed psychiatric drugs by his doctors.
Interestingly enough, in a case of art imitating life, screenwriter-director Joss Whedon of Toy Story and The Avengers movie fame wrote and directed an excellent 2005 movie called Serenity, based upon his own popular 2002 television series Firefly. In the movie Serenity, a futuristic, space-faring human society’s government decided to secretly introduce a chemical agent G-23 “Paxilon Hydrochlorate” to the air of the 30 million inhabitants of the planet Miranda in order to pacify its violent society. The chemical agent worked only too well. 99 percent of Miranda’s people had every grain of aggression drained from them. They quickly became so extremely sluggish and indolent that they refused to work, breed, walk or talk, and they died of starvation. In contrast, in less than 1 percent of the population, the chemical agent had the opposite effect and created hyper-aggressive, violent zombie-like cannibals, called Reavers. Reavers roamed like packs of wild predators, terrorizing colonies and committing atrocities, including raping, murdering, and eating their victims. The government then proceeded to forcibly suppress all public knowledge of its ultimate responsibility for creating the Reavers, even killing innocent people who could reveal its secret. The movie Serenity tells the story how the ragtag crew of a small ship suffered many trials and tribulations to finally expose the government’s complicity.
As in the movie Serenity, the United States government must be made accountable and to own up to its major involvement in these anti-depressant Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors and other psychiatric drugs. Let us not forget that these drugs were approved by the Food and Drug Administration despite their adverse side effects on a minority of patients. Also, we must remember that public school doctors and psychiatrists, who are government employees, are the ones who are prescribing wholesale these anti-depressant and psychiatric drugs to the public school children in their charge. The same medicated public school children grow up to be medicated adults, with all their attendant problems.
Serious politicians and concerned citizens must realize that these recurrent cases of mass murders cannot be attributed to firearms being more deadly now than in previous decades. If anything, advances in medicine have resulted in a higher survival of gun victims. Similarly, firearms are not more plentiful per capita today in comparison to previous decades or even a hundred years ago. What has really changed in the past several decades is the far greater incidence of adults and schoolchildren who are prescribed psychiatric medications. Many millions of Americans now take psychiatric medications with the government’s involvement and stamp of approval. The same percentage of vulnerable psychiatric patients, who are especially sensitive to the medication or to its dosage, multiplied by the growing millions of psychiatric patients mathematically accounts for the dramatic rise in violence. That this link between medicated America and violence is not more well known by the public is the result of patient privacy and confidentiality laws as well as the United States government ignoring, suppressing, and refusing to own up to its central role in the debacle. This problem cannot be remedied by more gun laws or the government’s confiscation of all firearms in the hands of civilians. The problem must be addressed at its source.
The same government that created or greatly contributed to the underlying cause of this grave societal problem must not be allowed to wash its hands of its own complicity. Our government must not be permitted to take advantage of a psychiatric crisis of its own making and, buoyed by the demagoguery of dishonest politicians and the uninformed fears of its concerned citizens, take away the natural right of its people to keep and bear arms in defense of themselves, their families, and to resist government tyranny.