Despite the fact that an article entitled, “Antidepressants Are A Prescription for Mass Shootings” first appeared in November of 2012, five years ago, as part of CCHR* Florida’s efforts, now we have a shooter, Nikolas Cruz, with a 7-year history of calls to 911, FBI involvement, and repeated evaluations by licensed therapists, all of whom deemed him not to be a threat. Here’s another salient article.
The fact they were all wrong is undeniable.
I’m a data/systems analyst. In 2012, shortly after the Newton shooting, I located, downloaded, and began analyzing a very detailed set of data on mass shootings between 1981 and 2011. That’s 30 years of mass shootings.
There are only two substantial conclusions one can draw from the data:
1. Even the best psychological practitioners cannot successfully identify everyone who might prove harmful to themselves and others. Many mass shooters had been evaluated by psychologists or trained/licensed therapists who failed to identify them as a threat. Deeming everyone who passes through their doors as a threat, however, is not the answer. Less than 1 out of 10,000 subjects evaluated for potential harm, yet dismissed as non-harmful, ever go on to engage in a mass shooting. You cannot deprive the other 9,999 (actually, a lot more) of their own rights.
2. So-called “gun-free” zones occupy less than 10% of the physical space frequented by the general public, yet are where more than 80% of all mass shootings occur. In fact, more than one mass shooter has confessed they targeted a gun-free zone precisely because it was a gun-free zone so as to minimize the likelihood anyone would be armed and could shoot back.
Based upon the indisputable facts communicated by the objective data itself, along with 27 years of military and civilian education and experience in the use of firearms, here are my recommendations:
1. Stop designating areas as “gun-free” zones. Not only is that a wide open invitation to mass shooters, but it also denies the lawful general public their Constitutional right to defend themselves. Given the undeniably clear data and findings, the so-called “gun-free” zones are pathetically stupid. Stop designating zones as “gun-free.”
2. For areas where you really do not want firearms, such as K-12 schools, courtrooms and prisons, authorities bear the responsibility of protecting those who must be there. Secure the physical facility from unauthorized entry. Employ well-trained armed guards to stop unlawful armed intruders. Single point of access. Controlled entry. We do a very good job of this with courtrooms and prisons. Some municipalities do a very good job of this with schools. Take heed. Learn. Do. Protect our kids.
3. For more adult areas like malls and movie theaters, stop preventing law-abiding adults from defending themselves. Law-abiding citizens use firearms somewhere between 650,000 to 800,000 times each and every year to defend themselves against violent crime, usually without having to fire a shot. I’ve been involved in three such incidents. No shots fired, but the attack was stopped. In fact, because armed, law-abiding citizens are not cops, they invariably hold their fire until it becomes absolutely necessary to stop the attack. Error rates are only 2% for armed citizens, but 11% for law enforcement officers. Thus, disarming law abiding citizens is pathetically stupid.
4. Don’t touch the current psychological evaluation programs in place. Although it’s not an exact science, they do a very good job, with a very low error rate, in terms of identifying those who are a threat to themselves and others. Trying to monkey with that from a legislative perspective would be a pathetically foolish thing to do.
5. Stop politicizing the issue. It’s not Trump’s fault. It’s not Hillary’s or Obama’s fault. It’s not the fault of Democrats or Republicans. In fact, most of the “solutions” proposed by politicians would greatly exacerbate the issue. Stop it. Knock it off. Do the research and find out what really works. Limits on magazines? Caliber? Number of guns one can buy during any given time period? Absolutely none of these foolhardy measures has ever stopped a single mass shooting. What HAS stopped mass shootings is when either a law-abiding citizen or law enforcement officer at the scene SHOT the mass shooter before they could continue. Securing places where people who must attend are disarmed, like students in schools, is the best way to deter such shootings in the first place.
6. Stop the blitheringly idiotic headlines. Mainstream media bears a huge responsibility to print the truth, instead of sensationalism like, “No other country has these types of…” Phooey. I can name thirty countries off the top of my head where such shootings are far worse than they are here in the United States of America. Fact-checking is a basic yet critical responsibility of all journalists. Those who fail to check their facts make the problem much worse.
7. Investigate the relation between mass shootings and psychoactive drugs. When a mother of four on psychoactive drugs drowns all four kids in a bathtub as her very first indication she has any violent tendencies, it’s a statistical anomaly. When similar events, including mass shootings, are repeated thousands of times over thirty years, you’ve got a real problem, and the drugs are highly suspect.
Yes, mass shootings are a tragedy. Let’s not create further tragedy by resorting to knee-jerk gun control that has not nor will ever stop mass shootings and is likely to make them much worse by progressively disarming law-abiding citizens who can and do protect themselves and others. Instead, let’s secure certain facilities and respect the rights of all citizens to defend themselves in accordance with our Constitution.
*Citizens Commission on Human Rights