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January 18, 2013

The Great Gun Debate and other Random Thoughts

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Massacre, there has been almost universal support ( excluding the NRA and Congressional Republicans) for the idea that the US needs tighter control of guns, ammunition, and the capacity of ammunition clips. What such thinking ignores is that our previous experiences with similar prohibitions involving alcohol and “drugs” were both rank failures, albeit for different reasons. The failure of the 18th Amendment was admitted by its non-government utopian sponsors after a mere 14 years; they then sponsored a Repeal Amendment mitigating some of the social damage done by the "Noble Experiment."

The four decade failure of drug prohibition, on the other hand, has never been conceded by its sponsors, the US Congress that obediently passed the Controlled Substances Act concocted by government insiders John Mitchell and Richard Nixon in 1970 right after the Supreme Court’s nullification of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1969.

The litany of failure I’m repeating may be boring to some, but it's also accurate, unlike much of the nonsense repeated daily on National TV. Speaking of TV, I continue to be fascinated by the several living examples of dysfunctional NRA "logic" recently paraded before us by Piers Morgan, a Briton amazed by the intensity with which some Americans cling to guns and attempt to portray the Second Amendment as tantamount to an 11th Commandment. Precisely because Morgan's interviews have generated so much heat, it's easier to demonstrate the inanity on both sides of the gun "debate" with pages of search results than by citing individual items references.

Some of the arguments made by the gun lobby have superficial merit. For example: rather than legislation, that will inevitably fail, we should keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. Of course the NRA has no concrete suggestions for recognizing them (many undoubtedly NRA members) also, as suggested yesterday, Psychiatry is singularly ill-equipped for the task.

Yesterday evening- primarily motivated the gun conundrum, I searched for the first American gun massacre I could remember: the Texas Tower incident of 1966, in which Charles Whitmanan, an ex-marine marksman, killed 14 people and wounded 32 others with a semi- automatic rifle. The more I read about Whitman's father, the more I was reminded of the principal, but still unpublicized, findings of the pot study I’ve been conducting and blogging about for years: namely that lack of paternal approval, as sensed by the pre-pubertal child, is a major cause of the anxiety disorder that seems to have predisposed a majority of my applicants to “initiate” (try) cannabis as adolescents.

There are many critical inferences that flow from that finding; all of which deserve further investigation. However, so long as our federal government is spending so much money to support its failing drug policy and stifle unbiased research, it will be difficult, if not impossible.

Further web research turned up recent evidence confirming that "mental illness" has indeed been playing a huge role in the uniquely American spate of mass gunshot murders that followed the Texas Tower incident.

Unfortunately, the Mother Jones study only went back to 1982, so we don't know how many occurred between '66 an then; but I'll bet it wasn't zero.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 18, 2013 06:57 PM