The mainstream media and the Left are often quick to blame guns and gun manufacturers following mass shootings, but they seem to turn a blind eye to one thing that many mass shooters have in common, including the Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock: the use of psychiatric drugs.
According to data obtained from the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, this past summer Paddock had been prescribed an anti-anxiety medication called Diazepam (originally marketed as Valium), side effects of which include aggressive and psychotic behavior, hostility, confusion, decreased inhibitions, and suicidal thoughts.
"If somebody has an underlying aggression problem and you sedate them with that drug, they can become aggressive," Dr. Mel Pohl of the Las Vegas Recovery Center told the paper. “It can disinhibit an underlying emotional state. … It is much like what happens when you give alcohol to some people … they become aggressive instead of going to sleep.”
Whether Diazepam is what motivated Paddock to go on a killing spree is unclear, as evidence seems to indicate that the mass shooting was meticulously planned and carefully calculated. According to Dr. Michael First of Columbia University, an expert on benzodiazepines, while drugs such as Diazepam can cause aggressive behavior, the extent to which Paddock planned his actions indicates there were deeper issues behind his decision to commit the worst mass shooting spree in American history.
But according to a 2015 World Psychiatry study of 960 Finnish adults and teens convicted of homicide, the odds of killing are indeed higher in individuals on benzodiazepines.
And Paddock is not the first mass shooter to have been under the influence of psychiatric drugs. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights International notes that at least 36 school shootings have been committed by those either taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs. These shootings have resulted in the deaths of 80 people.
And those figures fail to include the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 people were killed. The medical history for Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook gunman, remains undisclosed, despite speculation that he was either taking or withdrawing from psychiatric drugs and in spite of repeated efforts to obtain that information. In fact, the parent advocacy group AbleChild battled for months to obtain Lanza's psychiatric drug history. But though the records were not released, testimony during a Freedom of Information Act hearing in the case AbleChild vs. Chief Medical Examiner seemed to reveal enough. Connecticut attorney Patrick Kwanashie argued against releasing the toxicology test records because they could "cause a lot of people to stop taking their medications — stop cooperating with their treating physicians just because of the heinousness of what Adam Lanza did."
Kwanashie claimed, "Even if you can conclusively establish that Adam Lanza — his murderous actions — were caused by antidepressants, you can't logically from that conclude that you know others would commit the same actions as a result of taking antidepressants.”
Others disagree with Kwanashie's assertion. “In virtually every mass school shooting during the past 15 years, the shooter has been on or in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs,” notes Lawrence Hunter of the Social Security Institute. “Yet, federal and state governments continue to ignore the connection between psychiatric drugs and murderous violence, preferring instead to exploit these tragedies in an oppressive and unconstitutional power grab to snatch guns away from innocent, law-abiding people who are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution the right to own and bear arms to deter government tyranny and to use firearms in self defense against any miscreant who would do them harm.”
And this is not true for just school shootings. PsychDrugShooters.com reports that over 100 mass shooting events have been perpetrated by individuals taking psychiatric medications.
But these facts do not fuel any media frenzies for harsher regulations on psychiatric drugs. Instead, the mainstream media focus on the guns. And public policymakers and healthcare professionals continue to advocate for the use of psychiatric drugs in both adults and children because Big Pharma is far too influential.
So while the Left ponders the benefits of repealing the Second Amendment, more people are prescribed medications that could potentially result in the next mass shooting, after which the Left will again ponder the benefits of repealing the Second Amendment, and so on.