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SHOOTINGS: Prescription drugs may be a key factor

Letter by Richard Shepard, University Place on Dec. 21, 2012 at 2:50 pm | No Comments »
December 21, 2012 2:50 pm

After the horrific killings in Newtown, Conn., many have expressed compassion for the victims and their families, as we all should. Many have blamed various things for the incident: easy access to military-style weapons, combat-related video games and inadequate mental health services.

But few have noticed what may be a key factor in the rise of mass-killings in the past two decades – the unanticipated side-effects of mood-altering prescription drugs. Adam Lanza was reportedly taking Fanapt, the side effects of which could be (according to Drugs.com) aggression, delusion, hostility, impulse-control disorder, among others.

James Holmes, accused in the Aurora, Colo., theater killings, was allegedly on a heavy dose of Vicodin when he went on his rampage. In fact, it appears that nearly all of the mass killings in the past few decades have involved a perpetrator who was taking mood-altering prescription drugs. And yet the focus of the national response has been for more gun control.

I simply don’t see how that will solve anything. Timothy McVeigh used fertilizer and gasoline. The 9/11 terrorists used airplanes.

Guns are inert objects. It is the user who is either good or evil. The so-called war on drugs is premised on the theory that illegal drugs turn good people into monsters. Perhaps now is the time to consider the possibility that legal drugs present an even greater hazard – of mass killings without a prior history of violence.

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