Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Guns, drugs and psychos

All-or-nothing solutions like banning guns or drugs don't work

The all or nothing crowd keeps insisting that the 2nd Amendment needs to be repealed and all guns banned.

As for the use of antidepressant drugs by so many mass-shooters, I see some people are saying it's wrong to criticize antidepressant drugs, because such drugs help so many people.

Both arguments are too extreme, by taking an all or nothing approach. A more thoughtful approach is needed, and the following two blog posts seem to understand this. Here are the links, with some excerpts:

Anti-depressant drugs and mass killers
[...] There's nothing wrong with most of these drugs. Anti-depressant drugs such as Prozac and Zoloft have helped millions of people cope with depression. They are useful tools when used for adults who do not have severe mental disorders but they are no good for kids with serious problems.


The only solution is to identify sociopaths at an early age when it becomes obvious that they are anti-social, write hideous blood-thirsty plays and poems and kill cats. At that point they need to be put on anti-psychotic drugs not anti-depressants and, if the anti-psychotics don't curb their sociopathic behavior, then they need to locked up in loony bins. [...]

I've seen the use of antidepressant drugs in every mass shooting case I've read about. To acknowledge that is not to criticize the use of antidepressants, but to acknowledge that perhaps they are being misused when prescribed to people with serious mental illness problems.

Quote of the Day: Cesare Beccaria
[...] Consider the shootings in Germany in 2002, or the shootings in Scotland in 1996. (I apologize for not mentioning the Osaka school massacre of 2001 that left eight dead, but that was performed with a knife.) Our international critics should inquire as to why schools are always attacked by predatory psychos, regardless of how strict the firearm regulations are, as opposed to, let us say, police departments. Do this nonsense in a shopping mall and you will find citizens firing back, which is why shopping mall slaughters are unheard of. Universities like Virginia Tech, ironically, are gun free zones. A lot of good that does.

Indeed. "Gun Free Zones" are hunting grounds for psychopathic predators. In our past history, such large mass shootings have not occurred. We didn't have "gun fee-zones" back then, and we let citizens arm themselves as the 2nd amendment allows for.

We also didn't dispense anti-depressant drugs like candy to disturbed young people. Young people are still learning about self control; many have anger issues. Teens have raging hormones and are often too immature to handle their feelings constructively. Add to that deep mental problems, and then give them antidepressant drugs that lift their inhibitions... it's a recipe for disaster.

But rather than banning antidepressants (or refusing to look at their roll in these shootings), we could focus more on identifying people with serious mental problems, and getting them the appropriate help.

Instead of taking guns away from law abiding citizens, couldn't more be done to keeps guns out of the hands of psychopaths? Yet precisely because no system would be able to eliminate every possibility of danger, citizens must retain the right to arm themselves.

Whether it's guns or antidepressants, it's not the objects themselves that cause the problems, but the context they are used in. The answers lie in deeper examination of causes and effects in those contexts, not giving in to the all or nothing demands of the short-sighted.

Update 04-22-07:
Now there have been copy-cat shootings and inspired incidents. I know the media has a responsibility to report the news, but endless coverage and over-publicity of the killers who do these crimes can be a problem in of itself.

Various groups want to use shooting tragedies to advance numerous causes, but isn't it ultimately about identifying truly mentally disturbed people, and intervening BEFORE they go on a murderous rampage?

The guy was nuts; call it mental illness or call it evil, that is the bottom line. How we can recognize and contain such dangerous killers before they act, in an open and free society like ours? That is the real problem we have to solve.

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