A spate of mass killings by firearms in the US has prompted citizens to ask what is going on and why.
It often seems that an epidemic of mass homicide has infected the United States. The pattern is depressingly similar. Generally young men take rapid-fire guns to a public place and open fire. Many deaths ensue, usually including that of the shooter. What’s going on? Critics of America’s "gun culture" decry the vast number of firearms circulating throughout the country as well as the ease with which they are obtained. These critics point to the lack of such mass shootings in other countries. Certainly gun availability is one factor but it does not answer for why these shootings are more frequent of late than in the past. Since we’ve had the Second Amendment for 217 years, and the shooting sprees for only a few years, explanation of the cause must be found elsewhere.
Psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and others have for many years commented on the fact that many, if not most, of the perpetrators of mass shootings are taking or have recently taken psychotropic drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin. While numerous guns and the imprimatur given by the Bill of Rights are unique to the United States so too is the widespread use of psychotropic drugs. We are a nation of pill-poppers.
The pharmaceutical industry has been relentless in promoting all its wares. During the David Kessler reign at the Food and Drug Administration, during the Clinton administration, advertising restrictions on prescription drugs were swept away. Wall-to-wall commercials for all sorts of drugs carpet the airwaves. Kessler, by the way, has always been a reliable "partner" to Big Drugs’ assault on smokers, ever at the ready to promote smoking cessation products. Saturation advertising, as well as the enthusiastic participation of the medical industry, has paid off as America has produced a generation on drugs. A system that encourages and rewards the promiscuous prescribing of dangerous psychotropic drugs is long overdue for reëvaluation.