The real cause of the shootings

The aftermath of the terrible recent shootings surprised no one.  The apparent white nationalist sympathies of the El Paso shooter, despite his anti-Trump comments, set off a lefty firestorm of attacks on the president and the NRA.  Beto O'Rourke, desperately trying to reclaim the political spotlight, was the most despicable of all in blaming Mr. Trump.  Never mind: for every shooter who the media decides must have conservative thoughts, there are several leftist mass shooters.  The Dayton shooter was a Liz Warren fan; the GOP baseball team shooter worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign; and the Dallas police shooter, like President Obama, was an ardent BLM-supporter.  Yet no one calls out these politicians for spreading hate and creating a climate of violence.

That's because our liberal news media are interested in a story only if they can somehow twist it for their own agenda.  If a tree falls in the forest, it gets reported only if they can blame Mr. Trump.

That's incredibly unhealthy for our democracy.  The voters and their elected representatives are denied any kind of honest back-and-forth on the policy issues of the day by such extreme and misleading media coverage.  Criticize the corrupt black leaders of American cities, and you are a racist.  Deny that the mass shootings are the product of white supremacists and gun-makers, and you are even worse than a racist.

Too bad, because we actually know quite a bit about why these disturbed men become mass shooters, and it has nothing to do with their politics.  Researchers, for example, have found that something like 60% of mass shooters had a mental illness.  The Secret Service puts the number at 67%.  (Unfortunately, the politically correct American Psychiatric Association likes to downplay these numbers, lest we "stigmatize" the mentally ill.)  I suspect that these may even be lowball estimates, as, often, where the shooter died in the incident, there was not enough information left to properly diagnose a particular mental illness.  My own personal experience from years in the courthouse confirms all this.  Really violent, senseless acts all seem to come down to severe schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Less than 2% of the population suffers from either or both these conditions, but they occur in over 20% of the homeless population, and chronic drug abuse makes things much worse.  Marijuana, which might be tolerated by a lot of the adult population without great consequence, seems to have a terrible effect on the brains of young men with these mental diseases — diseases that start to reveal themselves only in the late teens and early 20s. 

The resulting high correlation among mass shooters, mental disease–psychotic behavior, and marijuana has long been known — even when they don't shoot, but bomb, like McVeigh and the Tsarnaev brothers.

Now, if the liberals have been utterly dishonest about mass shooters, sometimes we conservatives have not helped the situation if we lose the sight of the underlying drug and mental health causes and get distracted on other issues.  The general breakdown of the family and traditional society, and the coarsening of the arts and entertainment the last 30 years, while lamentable, is not the reason for mass shooters.   There are three more specific factors:

1.The rising levels of marijuana use among young people.

2. The ACLU's disastrous campaign to end institutionalization of the mentally ill, making it impossible to hold persons for care until they actually hurt somebody, which they often do and are then sent to prisons unequipped to treat them.

3. The media (social and conventional) hype devoted to mass shooters and the copycats they create.  Disturbed young men, being outsiders and loners, are particularly inspired by the publicity and sense of power they might attain by doing a mass killing.

We should focus our efforts there.  Any progress in such areas would be highly salutary for society and likely reduce the incidence of mass shootings.

Tevi Troy recently pointed out that traditionally, U.S. presidents did not want to talk about mass shootings for the very good reason that it only encouraged potential copycats, and the media respected that.  Bill Clinton, though, had to feel everyone's pain, so now every shooting is a cause for public spectacle with a presidential speech.

It's probably too much at this late date for President Trump to announce that the White House will no longer respond to news about mass shootings so as not to encourage copycats — or to ask media companies, especially social media firms, to voluntarily censor chatter about these incidents.  (I would exempt actual print newspapers, because nobody under 60 still reads these.)

But at the very least, he should insist that any kind of new "red flag laws" should be limited to a real, medical diagnosis concerning the mental health of the accused, and if judicial supervision is found in order, it must include a rigorous and long-term program of drug testing.

When it comes to mass shootings it needs to be made clear: guns don't kill people.  Political rhetoric doesn't kill people.  Drug-fueled psychotics are what kill people. 

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.  

The aftermath of the terrible recent shootings surprised no one.  The apparent white nationalist sympathies of the El Paso shooter, despite his anti-Trump comments, set off a lefty firestorm of attacks on the president and the NRA.  Beto O'Rourke, desperately trying to reclaim the political spotlight, was the most despicable of all in blaming Mr. Trump.  Never mind: for every shooter who the media decides must have conservative thoughts, there are several leftist mass shooters.  The Dayton shooter was a Liz Warren fan; the GOP baseball team shooter worked on the Bernie Sanders campaign; and the Dallas police shooter, like President Obama, was an ardent BLM-supporter.  Yet no one calls out these politicians for spreading hate and creating a climate of violence.

That's because our liberal news media are interested in a story only if they can somehow twist it for their own agenda.  If a tree falls in the forest, it gets reported only if they can blame Mr. Trump.

That's incredibly unhealthy for our democracy.  The voters and their elected representatives are denied any kind of honest back-and-forth on the policy issues of the day by such extreme and misleading media coverage.  Criticize the corrupt black leaders of American cities, and you are a racist.  Deny that the mass shootings are the product of white supremacists and gun-makers, and you are even worse than a racist.

Too bad, because we actually know quite a bit about why these disturbed men become mass shooters, and it has nothing to do with their politics.  Researchers, for example, have found that something like 60% of mass shooters had a mental illness.  The Secret Service puts the number at 67%.  (Unfortunately, the politically correct American Psychiatric Association likes to downplay these numbers, lest we "stigmatize" the mentally ill.)  I suspect that these may even be lowball estimates, as, often, where the shooter died in the incident, there was not enough information left to properly diagnose a particular mental illness.  My own personal experience from years in the courthouse confirms all this.  Really violent, senseless acts all seem to come down to severe schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

Less than 2% of the population suffers from either or both these conditions, but they occur in over 20% of the homeless population, and chronic drug abuse makes things much worse.  Marijuana, which might be tolerated by a lot of the adult population without great consequence, seems to have a terrible effect on the brains of young men with these mental diseases — diseases that start to reveal themselves only in the late teens and early 20s. 

The resulting high correlation among mass shooters, mental disease–psychotic behavior, and marijuana has long been known — even when they don't shoot, but bomb, like McVeigh and the Tsarnaev brothers.

Now, if the liberals have been utterly dishonest about mass shooters, sometimes we conservatives have not helped the situation if we lose the sight of the underlying drug and mental health causes and get distracted on other issues.  The general breakdown of the family and traditional society, and the coarsening of the arts and entertainment the last 30 years, while lamentable, is not the reason for mass shooters.   There are three more specific factors:

1.The rising levels of marijuana use among young people.

2. The ACLU's disastrous campaign to end institutionalization of the mentally ill, making it impossible to hold persons for care until they actually hurt somebody, which they often do and are then sent to prisons unequipped to treat them.

3. The media (social and conventional) hype devoted to mass shooters and the copycats they create.  Disturbed young men, being outsiders and loners, are particularly inspired by the publicity and sense of power they might attain by doing a mass killing.

We should focus our efforts there.  Any progress in such areas would be highly salutary for society and likely reduce the incidence of mass shootings.

Tevi Troy recently pointed out that traditionally, U.S. presidents did not want to talk about mass shootings for the very good reason that it only encouraged potential copycats, and the media respected that.  Bill Clinton, though, had to feel everyone's pain, so now every shooting is a cause for public spectacle with a presidential speech.

It's probably too much at this late date for President Trump to announce that the White House will no longer respond to news about mass shootings so as not to encourage copycats — or to ask media companies, especially social media firms, to voluntarily censor chatter about these incidents.  (I would exempt actual print newspapers, because nobody under 60 still reads these.)

But at the very least, he should insist that any kind of new "red flag laws" should be limited to a real, medical diagnosis concerning the mental health of the accused, and if judicial supervision is found in order, it must include a rigorous and long-term program of drug testing.

When it comes to mass shootings it needs to be made clear: guns don't kill people.  Political rhetoric doesn't kill people.  Drug-fueled psychotics are what kill people. 

Frank Friday is an attorney in Louisville, Ky.