December 3, 2015

Infrequently asked questions about mass shootings

Sam Smith - Whenever there are mass shootings, the media, politicians and the public  talk about them as if the only issue involved is gun control. Here are some questions that rarely get asked:

Why has the murder rate gone down but mass shootings gone up?
Between 2000 and 2003 there were 129 people killed or wound in mass shootings. Between 2010 and 2013 there were 444.

Meanwhile, Science 20 reported earlier this year: 

There is a paradox when it comes to guns in America. In states like California, gun ownership has doubled in the last 15 years while murder rates dropped substantially in that time. Today, almost one in three US adults owns at least one gun, and owners are more likely to be white married men over the age of 55, hardly a high crime demographic.

Instead of being for crime, most guns are used for suicide - and even then fewer people commit suicide with guns in the US than do by hanging in Japan. Though Switzerland had always scoffed at the notion that guns cause crime - gun ownership is even higher there - similar results in more than one country dispel the myth that more legal guns lead to more crime or more murders.

What is the role of the media’s obsession with violence in encouraging mass shootings?

Matt Taibai, Rolling Stone:  What we call right-wing and liberal media in this country are really just two different strategies of the same kind of nihilistic lizard-brain sensationalism. The ideal CNN story is a baby down a well, while the ideal Fox story is probably a baby thrown down a well by a Muslim terrorist or an ACORN activist. Both companies offer the same service, it's just that the Fox version is a little kinkier.

Parents TV: In 1972 the Surgeon General's office conducted an overview of existing studies on television violence and concluded that it was "a contributing factor to increases in violent crime and antisocial behavior." … Over the years, there have been literally hundreds of studies examining the connection between media violence and violence in real-life, the results of which were summarized in a joint statement signed by representatives from six of the nation's top public health organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Psychological Association, and the American Medical Association: "Well over 1000 studies… point overwhelmingly to a causal connection between media violence and aggressive behavior in some children.  The conclusion of the public health community, based on over 30 years of research, is that viewing entertainment violence can lead to increases in aggressive attitudes, values and behavior, particularly in children." 

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on neurobiological research and the impact of media on children, Dr. Michael Rich, Director of the Center on Media and Children's Health at the Children's Hospital of Boston testified that the correlation between violent media and aggressive behavior "is stronger than that of calcium intake and bone mass, lead ingestion and lower IQ, condom non-use and sexually acquired HIV, and environmental tobacco smoke and lung cancer, all associations that clinicians accept as fact, and on which preventive medicine is based without question." 

Television can be profoundly influential in shaping an impressionable child or adolescent's values, attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors. Television reaches children at a younger age and for more time than any other socializing influence, except family. The average child spends 25 hours a week watching television, more time than they spend in school or engaged in any other activity except sleep.

It is estimated that by the time an average child leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed 8,000 murders and over 100,000 other acts of violence.  By the time that child is 18 years-of-age; he or she will witness 200,000 acts of violence, including 40,000 murders. One 17-year longitudinal study concluded that teens who watched more than one hour of TV a day were almost four times as likely as other teens to commit aggressive acts in adulthood.

Why is the role of prescribed drugs ignored?

Daily Mail, UK - An Oxford University study found that men – and women – in their late teens and early 20s – were almost 50 per cent more likely to be convicted of offences from assault to murder when taking SSRI drugs. This family of anti-depressants includes Prozac, as well as Seroxat, Lustral, Cipralex and Cipramil, the most commonly prescribed of the pills. 

In the US around 11 per cent of people aged 12 and over take antidepressants, including SSRIs, according to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.  

Men and women in their late teens and early 20s were almost 50 per cent more likely to be convicted of offences from assault to murder when they were taking SSRI drugs, new research has found

CCHR - At least 35 school shootings and/or school-related acts of violence have been committed by those taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs resulting in 169 wounded and 79 killed (in other school shootings, information about their drug use was never made public—neither confirming or refuting if they were under the influence of prescribed drugs).  The most important fact about this list, is that these are only cases where the information about their psychiatric drug use was made public.

Some other questions

Mississippi has approximately the same rate of gun ownership as New Hampshire yet has five times as many murders per capita. The same is true of Louisiana and Maine: five times as many murders per capita in Louisiana despite roughly the same rate of gun ownership. Why?

The growth in school shootings is a fairly new phenomenon while guns aren't. Why?
According to the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, California rates an A- on gun control and ranks 42nd in gun violence. Maine ranks 37th in gun violence yet gets an F on its gun control.  Why?  

Why does the media always feature military experts but not peace experts?

How many schools teach non-violence? 


Anonymous said...

As much regard as I have for your work, I have to say that you're really out of line and out of touch on this one. Here's the question that needs to be asked, who the hell needs to own an assault rifle? They aren't any good for hunting. Though destructively lethal and capable of exploding human body parts at close range, at any appreciable distance they're no more effective than a kid's 22. The weapon is designed for one purpose and one purpose only, that is the catastrophic destruction of human flesh at close combat range. So, once again, who needs to own an assault rifle?

Anonymous said...

I mostly watch the regular news only to see what the crazies are up to, meaning those in charge and their lackeys.

Anonymous said...

Check out truthstream media, they just got hacked and shut down for a article about this....

Anonymous said...

Check out

It seems that "they" shut down truthsrtream media, something is going to hit the fan.

A Sociopath instinctively lies day after day, running con after con always being careful to tell their lies to be believable, but in time the lies catch up to them....

I personally don't like the elite's lackey sociopaths, as it never turns out well for their marks...

DrChill said...

Yeah in switzerland they have many guns, they're highly trained, and ammo is very regulated.

Anonymous said...

It is notable how mass media controls the mind, the focus is of course the evil gun during mass killings. Little to nothing about despots killing en mass unarmed populations all through history and today. The numbers are far away for the balance of the despots killing unarmed citizens. Hitler's Germany alone far surpasses about a zillion years of mass murders by lone gunman all over the world. But with such infantile minds it is impossible to have a intelligent discussion, boob tube heads... Now as in history the masses are mostly unarmed in Europe, ready for the next go around....... For instance today Poland crying about Russian aggression but keeping their home population disarmed, it seems that the Polish elite are really more afraid of their own population than of Russia, right? After all for their rich elite it is only a plane ride to safety to another high mansion and secret bank account,,, so must keep the unwashed in line, under control, that is number one. History grinds on..

Dan Lynch said...

Thanks for saying that, Sam.

To your questions I'll add "if we don't like mass murderers, then why do we continue to elect them ?"

Anonymous said...

I have a few more questions that I think are germane, but I'm not sure if others have answered them, or if these aspects have even been considered.

What connection or relationship does high stakes testing, the medicalizing and criminalizing of common childhood/youth behaviors, and the way schools seek to dominate every moment of each students life (homework, online spying), increase the likelihood of school shootings.

What is the economic angle on mass shootings? Many mass shootings, mainly family shootings, that get less media attention, frequently involve a (usually) man killing his wife/gf and their children, then himself. Usually these families are in deep economic distress. Would simply raising the minimum wage or instituting a guaranteed minimum income or at least returning to a functional safety net, reduce these shootings?

Would changing the US healthcare system to a single payers system, with access to high quality mental health care for all as need, which relies first on therapy, before drugs, for mental health support, and is affordable to all, reduce the number of mass shootings?

The problem is much bigger then access to guns, unfortunately too many people want simple solutions to complex problems.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Again, who needs to won assault weapons? Seems candidate Bernie understands the issue:

Capt. America said...

Schools teach non-violence? Do you know what it is? It is a revolutionary tactic, intended to shame the establishment into doing the right thing. It is aggressive. It does not work against people who are truly evil and have no conscience. It is not peaceful. It is not philosophical. It can even be used to justify subsequent violence. It must be understood. Read Ghandi. It is not something that belongs among the "principles" of the green or any other party. It is not a bandwagon. They don't get it.

Anonymous said...

if you feel safer entering a building with gunfree zone signs then by all means post them on your front lawn. in fact please do take out ads in papers posting the addresses of gun owners in town (as was considered in chicago a few years ago by antigun lobbyists). that way the rest of society can know who the addresses of the non-gun owners.

if you still don't get it, please stand down someone on their way into your property with that same sign on your lawn at 1 in the morning after having called the police knowing you have a 5 minute (at best) lead time on police getting there (and hopefully not killing you by mistake).

so has anyone considered what happens to crime rates on offenses like breaking and entering along with kidnapping countries who take guns away from law abiding citizens? australia's a good example. so's uk.

anyone consider the similarities between the war on drugs and the war on terrorism and the war on gun ownership? how's that legislated goodness working out. did the war on drugs reduce or increase drug crime? terrorism? wonder which way that'll go with gun crime.

Anonymous said...

Our president has shown himself to be truly a "bitter clinger". He is bitterly clinging to the theory that this is just a case of someone going postal in the work place. To admit to it being a well planned out terrorist act would diminish the control argument. If people are not arguing about guns they might take notice of the root cause and that would not play well for his legacy and Hillarys chances to succeed him. The gun debate has always been just a smoke screen. While we argue about it we ignore the important issues. To the people who constantly go on about "who needs to own semi automatic rifles", well obviously you don't so bully for you.

Anonymous said...

I've seen a lot of bloviation about motivation. You might as well
speculate on the motivation of a screwdriver while it takes the hinges off a door.
This crop of terrorists are tools, used for a purpose. From before 9/11 and
the downing of a Russian airliner to now, the purpose has been the same, and
it has been successful. It is to get foreign boots on the ground to
invest in destroying Saudi Arabia's neighbors, so that the Saudis can be as
secure as possible in their wealth and power. They have been riding the
tiger for a long time, and they are very good at it. The latest is a
continuation of a long standing and successful policy.