Are Mass Shootings on the Rise?

by | Nov 4, 2014

Anti-psychotics in Juvenile JailsRecently, there has been some debate about whether mass shootings are on the rise or not.  Studies have been done using different kinds of criteria thus resulting in different answers.  One study includes gang killings and shootings in the home due to domestic violence.  Three other studies have solely the criteria of randomly killing four or more people in a public place.  Their results show that this kind of mass shooting is definitely on the rise.    The ones that fall into this category are Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, the movie theater in Aurora, CO just to name a few.  These are mass shootings that demand investigation as to why they keep occurring, but instead are being ignored. 
A criminologist from Northeastern University did a study of mass shootings that took place from 1976-2012 and put his results on a graph.  He included gang killings and also shootings that resulted in the home due to domestic abuse.  The actual number of incidents doesn’t seem to increase over the years, but the number of victims shows a general upward trend.  It is puzzling as to why he claims mass shootings are not on the rise when his own graph shows otherwise. 
This same criminologist says the circumstances of the shootings are irrelevant.  He claims whether it takes place in a mall by a stranger or in the home by a family member doesn’t matter.  It does matter.  All mass shootings can’t be lumped together for one reason and that is motive.  Shootings that take place by gangs or due to domestic abuse usually have specific victims in mind.  Sometimes innocent people do get in their way, but in general they are after someone in particular.  However, mass shootings that randomly take place in public places are literally just that, random with no motive other than to kill.  This is a completely different category which warrants investigation. 
A study was done looking at the time between mass shootings, instead of the number of shootings per year.  From 1982-2011, on average there was one shooting every 200 days.  Since September 2011, the rate tripled to one every 64 days on average.  This data does not include Sandy Hook, the Washington Navy Yard, Fort Hood or the one near University of Santa Barbara nor the many others that have taken place since then.  
This study did not include gang or criminal shootings or those in the home, but those that took place in a public place with four or more victims resulting in death.  The FBI also did a study of shooters looking to kill in public places with no regard to the number of casualties.  Their results align with the above study and cover the same time period.  Keep in mind that the FBI has more law enforcement resources than any other group since they are a government agency.  As a result, we know these results are good solid information.  The Harvard School of Public Health also did research on public mass shootings and their findings are that mass shootings have become much more frequent as well. 
So here we have serious reasons to be concerned about public safety.  Random mass shootings in public places are increasing and are unpredictable.  They could occur anywhere at any time.  When a mass shooting takes place, the media focuses on easy access to guns as the problem.  Perhaps that is part of the problem, but what makes the shooter pick up the gun in the first place and what makes him go to a public place and open fire?  That is the question that needs to be addressed. 
These mass shootings in public places are not done by the disgruntled employee or the jealous spouse or vindictive family member.  The media often says the shooter was mentally ill or he didn’t get enough treatment in time.  There has been no clear definitive answer or common denominator reported by the media as to why these shootings in public have taken place.  The media does not give any rational answer as to why innocent people are being killed for no reason. 
However, there is a perfectly reasonable explanation.  There is one common denominator between these mass shooters and that is psychiatric drugs.  It is a fact that almost every shooter in the past fifteen years has either been taking psychiatric drugs or withdrawing from them.  Side effects of such drugs are aggressiveness, homicidal ideation and increased suicidal thoughts.  From 2004 to 2011, there were 11,000 reports to the FDA MedWatch System of psychiatric drug side effects linked to violence.  This is a staggering number, yet it can be considered inaccurately low as less than ten percent of most incidents get reported.  
Antidepressants in particular are responsible for these violent behaviors.  People get depressed but are not violent until they take the drug.  It’s the drug that makes them want to kill.  Of course not every single person that takes an antidepressant instantly becomes a mass murderer.  But the risk is there, because the drug does alter brain chemistry and for some that produces severe adverse side effects. 
A good example of this is what happened to a twelve year old boy while participating in a clinical study of children on Prozac.  After about five weeks on this drug, he had violent nightmares of killing his classmates until he got shot.  He had dreams of killing himself and of his parents dying.  It was difficult to come out of the dream even when he woke up, as it all seemed so real.  Fortunately this child did not act on those feelings.  However, fourteen percent of kids in the study did become violent or aggressive while on Prozac. 
This one example of homicidal and suicidal ideation certainly lends itself to the frame of mind of mass shooters in public places.  Perhaps their dreams and thoughts were worse so that they felt compelled to go somewhere and open fire.  Furthermore, what confirms that it is the drug that creates that frame of mind, is once the twelve year old boy was fully off Prozac, his violent thoughts disappeared. 
It only makes sense that the drugs upset the normal brain chemistry, creating an imbalance, which manifests itself in mania, suicidal ideation and homicidal ideation.  The FDA even requires a Black Box Warning on every antidepressant stating these potential side effects.  The question is why doesn’t any federal or state government connect the dots here?  With the above information in mind, isn’t it obvious that psychiatric drugs have a part in mass shootings? 
The reason you won’t see this information on the front page of the newspaper is because drug companies have a lot of influence.  They have many lobbyists, they subsidize psychiatry and have lots of money to use as leverage.  This is all for the purpose to keep their profits up and without regard to public safety or anyone’s well being.  
Since psychiatry is based on an opinion and not a lab test or x-ray, their drugs only harm and don’t help.  It would be wise to steer clear of these and  in addition, let other people know this information.  The less people on psychiatric drugs, the less likely another mass shooting will occur.  Until then, another one could occur anytime and anywhere.


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