How to stop gun violence without controlling guns!

Most of the shooters that make the national news do not have a specific reason for their actions.  Let me explain what you can deduce from this, versus other kinds of violence:

  • Shooters who make only the local news invariably have a reason.  Usually if there are multiple victims, the reason has to do with a girlfriend and frequently shared children.  If there are one or two victims, or the victims do not know the assailant, then the motive is robbery, or drug deal retribution.  I’m not talking about these.
  • If the incident is not a shooting, but a bomb or other method of large scale destruction is involved, then the motive is known and it is political.  No one blows up a Federal building because of general angst.  It requires too much careful plotting and preparation while in a rational state of mind, and usually the angst is resolved during one of these rational periods.  So this applies to Tim McVeigh, and the guy who flew a small plane into an IRS building (over tax troubles, which is political), and of course any Islamic terrorist, or any kind of terrorist at all, certainly the Boston Marathon bombers.  Almost no one ever uses a gun for something like this.
  • The only modern exception to this general rule was Nidal Hasan, who shot up Fort Hood.  But I believe that was not true terrorism since there was no plot and no conspirators, and that Nidal’s actions would be prevented by the method I’m going to suggest.  There have been in the long past isolated single-murder exceptions where an anti-abortion sharpshooter took out an abortion doctor.  None of these in the last 15 years that I know of, and it’s possible my method could prevent this also.

In other words, all of the school and theater shooters, and the terrorists acting alone from personal angst, anyone without a severely distressing actual and personal reason (and possibly even a good many of those), are suffering from general anxiety.

This is normal.  That’s right, I said normal.  Because as a species, we are not far separated from living in dangerous environments with actual omnipresent threats, and in which any encounter with an unknown stranger was very dangerous.  Consider the reaction of primitive tribes.  Usually it is shoot first and ask questions later.  To make friends, one avoids contact and lets time go by without threat, and they will see the newcomers and become curious.  But no one is curious about strangers they meet unwillingly.  So everyday life is filled with potential threats.

In addition to that, our governments, schools, employers and police attempt to coerce us constantly with threats.  One way to reduce anxiety is to drink alcohol, but billboards in Texas advertise that the costs of doing that and driving – and how can a person in modern society avoid driving? – will result in bankruptcy, complete financial ruin, perhaps a worse threat than simple, sudden death.  Even our shrinks have switched over from analysis to drugs and finally to behavioral therapy.  Behavioral therapy is nothing but the threat of punishment for bad behavior.  Behaviorists do not believe in examining internal mental states, only in achieving results.  It does get results.  In addition, it gets an agitated, resentful and anxious (about future threats) mental state, than can result in an attempt to simply slaughter all the unknown future threats … aka “random gun violence.”

In short, random mass gun violence is a consequence of civilization.  Removing access to guns will just result in the substitution of another method, such as randomly crossing lanes of traffic to ram other motorists, pedestrians, or even buildings.  Every time you plug one of these holes (we already plugged the “hijack an airliner” hole), anxious people will just find another one.  Humans are very creative and intelligent.  You cannot plug all the holes.  Someone will be hijacking delivery drones to disperse anthrax or a similar agent within the next decade, mark my words.  And like the anthrax letters of a few years back, it will be anonymous and take years, if ever, to find the culprit.

Drug companies have tried to find a solution.  But they are constrained.  It has to be a newly patented drug, and one that the user cannot “just stop taking.”  Modern anti-depressants fit this description.  Many cause serious illness or death if suddenly stopped.  Yet they are not described as addictive.  And we taxpayers pay for the prescriptions through O’bamacare.  (In case you missed a previous post, I write O’bama in the Irish form because his mother was part Irish … it is my way of respecting his entire racial heritage, not just part of it.)

There are some old drugs that work nicely.  They are very, very cheap, easy to make, and of course off-patent.  So drug companies have conspired to have them classified as addictive Class IV drugs and virtually banned.  You have to go to a shrink weekly, paying about $300 a week, probably not covered by insurance, and re-explain every week why you need it to get these drugs.

What drugs am I talking about?  They are benzodiazepenes.  The same effective molecule is present in all of them, but the time in the body varies, and some subtleties of the effect on mood.  A list of some (not all) of them:  (You can find all of them using Google)

Librium – Valium – Ativan (Lorezepam) – Clonapin – Xanax – Dalmane – etc.

I know these drugs are not seriously addictive for two reasons:

  • I have taken different ones off and on, beginning in the late 70s when I had a bout of hyperthyroidism and needed a sleeping pill, and found that after a few days, weeks or months the effect diminishes, and doesn’t come back with a larger dose.
  • I never met anyone who was addicted to them.  And I’ve met a lot of people who took them for a while and quit, some family, some strangers.  In my experience, and I’ve lived a long time, if there is a problem I’m going to eventually meet someone who has the problem.  I’ve met a lot of people who had problems with drugs, but not these drugs.

I know they are effective because a problem with anxiety, and with temper, runs in my family, and it goes away under the influence of these drugs.  I’m also less irritable because I sleep well.  And I never met anyone who did not report exactly the same effects!

By contrast, most of the modern medicines only have the intended effect in some people, and the opposite effect in others.  Tramadol, for example, can cause nervousness and sleeplessness – and did for me when prescribed as a sleep aid.  Prozac, once the most common anti-depressant, can cause violent aggressiveness.  It did for me.  And a counselor told me it is sometimes given to football linemen to make them mean.

How many of the shooters have been diagnosed with depression, and given something like Prozac that might make them more, not less, prone to violence?  I am un-surprised that antidepressants sometimes lead to suicides in teens.

But the benzodiazepenes have no such effects.  They are not a gateway to other drugs, because they are sufficient, and taking anything else with them will simply put you to sleep.  You can’t drink and drive with these drugs because you’ll fall asleep.  You can’t shoot anybody, because you don’t really want to.

Furthermore, I find that they promote productivity.  I can be stuck on a difficult intellectual problem, maybe a physics paper I’m writing, and take a low dose of valium and work for two or three hours, solving the problem and creating a feeling of accomplishment, and only then do I get sleepy.  We’d all be rested and smarter if we took these drugs.

A friend recently brought up that they are thought to cause depression.  Well, I doubt it.  Probably the person was going to get depressed anyway.  But if so the solution is simple.  Quit taking it.  There is no urgent compulsion to take another one.  More is not better.  Actually, less is better.  Very low doses are effective.

So … what is my suggestion?  Two things:

  • Phase 1 – make low doses available over-the-counter.  If you wish, make the purchaser sign for them just like to get pseudafed currently.  The infrastructure is already in place.
  • Phase 2 – after a trial period if no one is going crazy and falling asleep at the wheel, then simply add the stuff to the water supply like we do with fluoride.  Actually, it’s probably safer than fluoride.  (well, I’m mostly kidding about this, but at least make the stuff available … it is simply *not* powerfully addictive like true Class IV drugs, more like alcohol, and prohibition did nothing for that except give organized crime a big stronghold in this country).

Do this and you will see less workplace violence, the end of random mass shootings, probably less divorce, and it’s even possible that terrorist groups infiltrating our culture to commit mass violence may simply lose interest in their projects.

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