Prescription Drugs Cause Mass Shootings? That’s Ridiculous!

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There’s an article making the rounds talking about prescription psychotropic drugs, and how they are the one thing in common with “nearly” all mass shootings.

That’s your key word; “nearly.”

First of all, it needs to be said the article isn’t entirely wrong. Psychotropic drugs are dangerous when applied incorrectly. Too little or too much of them have negative side effects, and then there’s the matter of drugs affecting every individual in different ways.

The author takes this premise and tries to use it as the reason mass shootings, the majority of them anyway, are committed. But there’s that word “nearly” again. Not all mass shooters were taking these drugs. Not all mass shootings were committed by somebody on these drugs in the first place. So, yes, the drugs may have been a common thread in some of the shootings, but they don’t cover everything.

Know what is the common thread? We’ll touch back on that.

While I don’t doubt the prevalence of psychotropic drugs are a factor, we have to look at why this is so. Severe cuts to mental health treatments and therapies are being made throughout the country. Rhode IslandOklahomaFlorida.  This is nothing new, of course. Mental health care has been slashed and reduced for years now. You can blame the GOP for that, primarily.

So what happens when mental health treatments and therapies get slashed? Band-aids get placed on sucking chest wounds. Drugs are over or under prescribed, and nobody is following up or looking after the affected patients.

It can’t be disagreed that deteriorating mental health care facilities are helping to contribute to the proliferation of psychotropic drugs with dangerous side effects. But this isn’t the common thread to all mass shootings either. Know what it is? We’ll get back to that.

Now, the author of the piece is a fellow by the name of Dan Roberts, and he’s a full on gun nut. From his author bio:

“Dan Roberts is a grassroots supporter of gun rights that has choosen AmmoLand Shooting Sports News as the perfect outlet for his insightful articles on Guns and Gun Owner Rights.

As a resident of the oppressive state of New Jersey he is well placed to be able to discuss the abuses of government against our inalienable rights to keep and bear arms as he writes from deep behind NJ’s Anti-Gun iron curtain.

In addition to AmmoLand Shooting Sports News, Dan is and (sic) active member for the New Jersey Second Amendment Society, and works on the ground to advance gun rights for all his fellow residents of NJ.”

Titles from some of Roberts’ other articles include these winners: “Kids and Guns Don’t Mix? Someone forgot to tell 9-year old Shyanne Roberts;” “Religious Anti-Gun Sympathizers; Heeding God’s Call Or Hubris in God’s Name.” In short, he writes articles promoting every ridiculous gun lobby talking point out there. Many of his pieces rely heavily on the discredited statistics of NRA shill John R. Lott Jr.

So the author’s agenda is pretty clear, divert attention away from guns. Now we get to the common thread, and you had to know this was it. All this article is doing is the same old song and dance about mental health as the reason behind mass shootings. Hilarious, considering those blaming that instead of guns usually oppose doing anything about mental health.

Oh, here’s another piece by Roberts,  where he rails against psychiatrists releasing records of dangerously mentally ill patients. In yet another piece, he complains about gun confiscation from the mentally unstable. Dan Roberts blames the mentally ill for mass shootings, but attacks those looking into just that issue. That’s called hypocrisy, friends.

He did do a decent job of covering his tracks on this one, though. Roberts’ article was picked up and piggybacked on a few other sites of all political stripes. He released this article in April of last year, but it’s found new life lately on several different sites, and has been heavily making the rounds in social media. But when the piece is tracked to it’s original source? It’s a site called “Ammo Land.”

There is no single factor in the plague of gun violence in the USA, and these meds may or may not be one of those. But this article was written by an unabashed gun rights extremist, and he is working hard to present these pills as the sole reason for shootings, trying to divert away from the easy access of guns. He’s also on record protecting the gun rights of the mentally unstable, just for fun.

As for the mentally ill, this article does them no justice. Roberts only demonizes treatments given to those known to have committed mass shootings. No solutions are offered. No specifics are given outside of which individual took which medication. It’s all correlation equalling causation. A smokescreen. Crap.

In 2005, I was suddenly faced with a mentally ill teenager off his meds. He had a knife and had unsuccessfully tried to cut another man’s throat. If he’d had a gun, I would most likely be dead now, along with some of my friends. Instead, everybody was fine, including the poor kid. Was he dangerous? Yes. Was he responsible? No. With a gun, which Dan Roberts wants to make sure he has, he could have killed people. Then Dan Roberts can blame whatever drugs he was prescribed.

The one common factor in mass shootings are guns. No amount of obfuscation can cloud that fact. And if you are more focused on protecting the “gun rights” of the dangerously mentally ill, Dan Roberts, maybe you should shut up about the drugs they’re taking.

Chad R. MacDonald

Chad R. MacDonald has a degree in English Literature from Cape Breton University and subsequently received a full scholarship to AMDA in New York. He is a former security professional, a veteran of the hospitality industry, and experienced in administration and the arts. He loves baseball, hockey, marine photography, science, New York City, and his family.
He lives in Hell's Kitchen with his wife and son and their gigantic cat.
Chad also writes for,, and contributes at You can follow him on Twitter @ChadMac19 and on Facebook as well!


Facebook comments

  • Sue Roediger

    There are several things about the fact that some of “shooters” were taking meds-
    One, correlation is not cause. People who have headaches take aspirin – does the aspirin cause he headache?
    Two, the underlying reason for the prescription could be the cause and the Rx simply failed to correct it.
    Or the meds were not taken as directed. over used or under used.
    More importantly people with these psychological issues who do not have access to guns, do not commit “mass murder”. Our energy should be on recognition and treatment of people with mental health needs, and on restricting access to gun to those who have no such issues. People with epilepsy and similar health issues, people with vision problems cannot be licensed to drive. There should be some “qualifications” to own a gun.

    • Yes. Exactly the point

      • Sue Roediger

        well there are at least two of us

    • gergobob

      That comparison behind aspirin and antidepressant is ……uninformed. Aspirin is extremely simple, treating one simple problem. Antidepressants are not that simple. Also, one of the side effects legally required to be listed on SSRI’s is homicidal or suicidal thoughts. Do the math.

      • Sue Roediger

        SSRI’s are prescribed for people who already have suicidal, or homicidal, thoughts. The “possible side-effects” listed on the packaging are those reported by individuals who have taken the meds. No research has been done to determine any actual connection. As said above — correlation is not causation.

      • gergobob

        SSRI’s are not prescribed only to people who already have homicidal and suicidal thoughts. Plenty of people have gone on SSRI’s without already having had those thoughts. And plenty got them during taking SSRI’s or especially when going off them.

      • gergobob

        In my opinion these mind altering drugs have people wound up like tops and are used for a quick fix and a crutch, at least for most people. Western medicine has a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong. Same goes for natural medicine you would find in indigineous cultures that live naturally. Western culture and most people in western countries take the western medicine as bible, and any natural remedies (medicine) as well as natural ways of living as nothing but garbage or completely ignore. It’s insanity.

      • Sue Roediger

        you get an Rx for them if you are depressed ……………to the point of losing the will to live.

      • gergobob

        You must understand that to be depressed does not mean you have ever had suicidal thoughts.

      • gergobob

        If you are saying you get an Rx only when you are so depressed that you are thinking or suicide (if that is what you mean by “losing the will to live”), I have got to tell ya that that is incorrect.

  • Charles Vincent

    You’re disingenuous at best something like 90% of the mass shooters had mental problems. Second SSRI’s have side effects that manifest differently from one individual to the next. Third anyone that just dismisses a cause is not very bright, especially with some of the data that supports SSRI’s being a logical suspect.

    • I never said the shooters having mental problems weren’t an issue. Your second point was discussed in the piece. No cause was dismissed, it was pointed out that this is but one of many factors involved, and does not cover any and all mass shootings.

      Thanks for reading.

      • Charles Vincent

        School shootings by decade 1764-2014;
        1764 – 1 in the whole century then 86 years without one recorded shooting.
        1850’s – 5
        1860’s – 6
        1870’s – 12
        1880’s – 16
        1890’s – 11
        1900’s – 26
        1910’s – 9
        1920’s – 3
        1930’s – 12 NFA 1934
        1940’s – 13
        1950’s – 21
        1960’s – 17 OCCSSA 1968 and GCA 1968
        1970’s – 24
        1980’s – 30 UFA 1988
        1990’s – 35 GFSZA 1990 and BHVPA 1993, AWB 1994-2004(expired)
        2000’s – 48
        2010-2014 – 100; 103 if we include the ones you mentioned.

        Mass shootings since 1900;
        1900’s – 0
        1910’s – 2
        1920’s – 2
        1930’s – 9
        1940’s – 8
        1950’s – 1
        1960’s – 6
        1970’s – 13
        1980’s – 32 note SSRI’s started being prescribed to population in 1980
        1990’s – 42
        2000’s – 28
        2010-2013 – 14; this number is larger if you include 2014 numbers.

      • Sue Roediger

        it is true meds increased in the time mentioned, and so did access to fire arms, especially the rapid fire variety. No cause implied, just correlation.

      • Charles Vincent

        Firearms owner ship has been increasing since the founding of the country Sue. Second the data I posited takes on more meaning when you add population growth to the mix. Third the fact that the gun laws have no positive effect in controlling/mitigating gun violence is a strong indicator that guns are not the problem.

      • Sandy Greer

        Guns are a problem when the ‘unstable’ have easy access to them.

        I don’t know what the answer is.

        But I know that easy access to guns by people who are suicidal – or worse, filled with a Rage that wants to inflict its pain on others – is an accelerant, adding fuel to the fires already burning.

        It may be that some fires must burn themselves out.

        But some may be fought, successfully. If only we had the time accelerants deprive us of.

      • Charles Vincent

        “Guns are a problem when the ‘unstable’ have easy access to them.”
        So are knives bats cars and IED’s by this metric the recent Elliot Rodgers spree used a knife to kill three of his victims and his car to seriously injure 2-3 victims etcetera yet no one is saying ban knives and cars nor are they blaming them.

        /tips hat

      • Sandy Greer

        Knives, bats, and cars are dual purpose. We cut our meat, play baseball, and drive to work.

        We can kill with our bare hands. Obviously, we don’t ban hands.

        It’s not a perfect world, and never will be. Doesn’t mean we don’t do what we can to make it better – where we can.

        I know that ‘pro-guns’ don’t want all these unnecessary deaths, any more than ‘anti-guns’. Possibly, even more – for having more to lose. We both know that’s true.

        We need to look at ways to curb easy access to guns – by those intent on harming themselves, or others.

        I don’t know how to do that, or what form it will take.

        But the gun my cousin killed herself with – was theirs (she, and her husband) As are most of those used in mass killings.

        Part of his Guilt – and, I’m sure, the Guilt the families of shooters feel – is the knowledge they put those weapons in the path of ‘mad men’, or at least – did not remove them.

        /thanks, as always 😉

      • Rob G

        The thing is, people who want to commit suicide will find a way. I just finished my psychiatry rotation in med school and was surprised to find that in the female population, medication overdose was the method of choice, not guns. That doesn’t mean guns aren’t used, just that overdose is more common. Guns was the method of choice for men, though. The thing is, with the availability of OTC medications that are lethal in doses that are not difficult to get, and easy access to the dosing info via the internet, taking away one path will not significantly reduce the number of suicides. Once a person has that in their head, they form a plan and they plan out every step very meticulously. Unfortunately, in today’s world it’s not hard. We need to increase access to mental health in order to reduce the number of these tragedies.

      • Sandy Greer

        True. Hopefully, ACA will increase access to mental health.

        Suicides are a special case. Whether of ‘sound’ mind or not – Where there’s a Will, there’s a way. I could make the case myself – one has the right. Especially in end-of-life issues.

        Once I fought over a gun – with somebody intent on suicide. Surprised us both. Probably the only reason he loosened his grip enough I could take it from him.

        So even though I believe one should have the right – I couldn’t stand by and let it happen right in front of me.

      • Bud

        I’d be willing to bet that if I put the two of us 20′ apart, said I wanted to harm you, and you got to choose whether I used a knife, a car, or an AK47, you would choose the knife or the car, depending upon the environment, but would NEVER choose AK47.

      • Charles Vincent

        You would lose that bet, for many reasons

      • Rob G

        So actually, I should interject here that fully automatic weapons were completely legal until 1968, and it wasn’t until 1986 that they actually became difficult to get your hands on legally with a license (I seem to see a spike in the numbers around this time as well, just sayin), so actually the access to machine guns went down as the number of shootings went up. I would definitely put the brunt of the issue on not funding mental health and the government not keeping the background check system up to date. I would also place the school shooting epidemic squarely on the shoulders of the media. In Columbine, the kid said his whole point was to make his mark on the world, make his name known everywhere, and go out with a bang. Columbine is now a household word. He got what he wanted. He drew up the blue print that all these copy cat school shooters are following because the media made it sound like a good idea to them. Because of this all kids know if they feel ready to end it all, they can leave their name in the history books by following this plan. The sad part is we totally enable them to do this by making schools a “Gun Free Zone”. They know they can follow the Columbine blue print and no one is going to be able to stop them. Guns are already illegal for students to have at school without making schools into gun free zones. All the gun free zone thing does is make it so Teachers can’t have guns there. I mean seriously, if we don’t trust teachers with guns, why would we trust them with our kids??!!! They are public servants just like Police and we trust them with guns. Teachers should be allowed (not forced!!) to carry concealed with the proper training and licensing and without the students knowledge of which teachers might be carrying concealed, and the students should know that there are some teachers who may be carrying concealed. Students would not be so fast to try the Columbine blue print if they thought that any teacher might be able to quickly put a stop to them and their mayhem. The whole problem wouldn’t go away, but you’d see the numbers go back down to pre-1990’s levels, and the total number of casualties would go down as well. In reality, there was far greater access to guns before the 1980s. Just about everyone I knew back then had a gun. That was back when every little boy had a pellet gun or a .22LR, and the school shooting numbers were way lower. Compare the number of kids with a pellet gun or a .22LR then and now and I would submit that you would find a very drastic difference.

      • Sandy Greer

        You just made one good case for concealed carry – proper training and licensing.

        I wish we had proper training and licensing for all (new) guns. Similar to DMV. Refresher courses, too; many don’t shoot regularly.

        But licensing = registries = confiscation, to some.

        We’re entrenched. Each suspicious of the other.

  • Sandy Greer

    We’ve all heard stories of SSRIs being over prescribed for ‘behavior’ issues. Leaving the underlying causes untreated – or even aggravated.

    >All this article is doing is the same old song and dance about mental health as the reason behind mass shootings

    ^^^I do think mental health is behind mass shootings. Suicides, too. I think we need to look at that – and not dismiss it as coming from just another ‘gun nut’.

    My cousin was a suicide – shot herself, post partum. She left her husband with a newborn, and toddler. It took him 10 years to get past that. It hurt her parents, and sisters – who weren’t able to save her. Even me – it hurt to think how much fun I had with her, learning to ride a horse on her family’s ranch.

    Two things I know from that – There is blame enough to go around, and there are no easy answers.

    It takes people with open minds, and Courage enough to look at everything, even what comes from the ‘enemy camp’ – to find answers – if indeed, they are there to be found at all.

    • Jim Bean

      My father shot himself at age 88. His was an extremely pragmatic person and knew his mind was beginning to fail him. I believe he calculated what his future held in store, had no desire end up peeing through a catheter and drooling on a bib, nor did he desire to surrender all he had worked for to pay the medical community to clean up after him, so he exercised control over his destiny and ended his life on his terms. In fact, I think he had made the decision to do that decades ahead of time. The gun made it certain and instantaneous. I would not have deprived him of that even if I could have.

      • Sandy Greer

        I understand what you’re saying. It is ‘comforting’ – for those of us who are armed – to know we have the ready means, should we wish it.

        Oddly enough, there was a completely ridiculous hypothetical
        posed here – choose an attack by gun, knife, or car. If I’m to die – I choose gun. Not multiple stabbings, and not mowed down by a car. One shot – to the heart, or to the brain.

        But for you to compare your father’s suicide (even if you discovered him) to my cousin – who left a 10 day old baby, and one barely on his feet – is crass – to say the least.

        The one is a relief, if we are honest. The other – inspires a Guilt impossible to dissuade.

        I feel ‘sullied’ by your post. Ask – with respect – that you not do that to me again.

      • Jim Bean

        Come down from the high mount, Sandy. Any ‘comparison’ between your cousin and my father is something your imagination invented. Furthermore, your interpretation suggests my father left no loved ones behind and, therefore, he ‘doesn’t compare.’ The analogy is, If the Left had their way, my father would have been denied the opportunity to choose the gun. My sympathies to your cousin’s family. Truly a tragedy in this instance. But unless science comes up with a way to continually monitor every individual’s state of mind, what we can do is very limited.

      • Sandy Greer

        You don’t argue your father was not of sound mind. Just the opposite. You argue his was a totally rational decision – having explored his alternatives, and looked at his options – over many decades. There are few here would dispute that. Certainly not me.

        If you had posted it on your own OP – no problem. But you chose to put it here – under my own – where I spoke of suicides by those NOT of ‘sound’ minds.

        A ‘justification’ – and a comparison – of suicides, one under the other.

        And now you say my ‘imagination invents’. Further, that I insinuate you didn’t love your father. To say nothing of your Lefty Straw Man. Imaginative – but still a Straw Man.

        Words are a medium, and all we’ve got when we post. Our choice what we post – and where. NOT our choice – how it’s received.

        Rather than complain others are on ‘high mounts’ – Take responsibility for what you say, and where, and how you say it. Work on your People Skills.

      • DrBubba

        And now he is a GUN CRIME statistic the Liberals love to slap in front of our faces. 30,000 Gun Deaths a year. 65% of them are gang member shooting other gang members… good riddance, keep up the good work, 20% are suicides, who would find another method to do their deeds. 10% are Cops shooting the ‘bad’ guys. 5% are the citizens shooting the bad guys. 4% are the bad guys shooting the good guys, and that leaves LESS than 1% involving accidents. Looks like 95% of these deaths are a positive to society Jim. Aren’t we all for a better society, without criminals? Only about 1500 of these deaths are actual tragedies. Still too many, but nowhere near the tragedy that the gun grabbers make it out to be. It is NOT a tragedy, taking criminals off the streets. It is a tragedy that these people’s parents DID NOT instill the value of human life on their children who later become criminals and murderers. The bottom line, 22,500 slimeballs are being removed permanently from our want to be peaceful society. GOOD RIDDANCE!

  • Jim Bean

    Easy access to guns has nothing to do with them being used in crimes. All the Amish have guns and their violent crime rate with them is zero. That’s unassailable proof that there is no causal relationship between gun availability and crime.

    • Everything you’ve said here is complete and utter bullshit. That is all.

      Have a nice day!

      • Jim Bean

        The definition of ‘bullshit’ being, ‘any evidence that contradicts what I get a warm and fuzzy feeling from believing?’

      • Sandy Greer

        An FP columnist lit into me once. Can’t remember what she said, or what it was about, but I remember how it made me feel:

        It was months before I could read her again. I post rarely.

        Columnists have the upper hand, writing the column. I liken them to hosts, throwing a party – and we, their guests. Puts a damper on a party and makes other guests uneasy when a host shows one the door. 😉

      • Rob G

        So Chad, I take it you have statistics and numbers, or other facts to back up your response to Jim Bean’s statement about the Amish? If so, I would be very interested in seeing them. Last I recall, what he said is actually true. The Amish all do usually poses guns, and they do actually have an extraordinarily low rate of gun violence. I definitely believe that our nations lack of funding for the mental health system plays a substantial role.
        However, jumping in and responding as you did to Mr. Bean’s post with nothing more than a blanket uneducated summary dismissal is not only unbecoming of a journalist, but demonstrates an ignorant inability to respond intelligently in a civilized manner on a subject which you should be well educated on since you wrote the original piece. This would reflect poorly on your credibility as a writer and your aptitude as a journalist. In reality, some of the comments in this thread show more quality research and more knowledge of subject matter than your entire piece. I mean you make your point quite adequately that the author of the piece you criticize is probably biased based on the audience he tends to write for, but are you any different? You are writing an anti-gun piece (which is really just a critique of a pro-gun piece) that is published in an online “Forward Progressive” by definition Left Wing rag and you dismiss everything he says based wholly on the statement that Dan Roberts is a “gun nut” and some anecdotal speculation (not evidence because you don’t know what your assailant with a knife would have done with a gun). The last school shooting (fortunately) killed only 2 people while the last mass knifing unfortunately had quite a few more casualties than that. I obviously don’t know your history or education since this is the first piece of yours that I have read, but I can assure you that the next time I see your name in the authors block of a piece, I’m going to skip it and move on to something else because it appears that you are unable to write anything of enough quality to be worth my time. In the future, I would recommend taking the time to actually think of something intelligent to say before responding to the comments of your readers. That is, if you ever get another chance to write another piece. If I were a publisher, I wouldn’t afford one to you.

      • Sandy Greer

        When I post the columnist I spoke to above:

        It’s because of posts in the comments. Something is said I can relate to.

        We can still find value here. Don’t be a stranger. 😉

  • Matthew Reece

    The common threads running through all mass murder incidents are bad parenting and bad philosophy.

  • DrBubba

    You obviously haven’t read the warning labels on these drugs. All warn about feelings of suicide. All warn that going cold turkey or even changing the dose can result in suicide and violence. Add that to the crazy liberal ideology, and you have a recipe for mass murder. Obviously! AS almost ALL of the mass shooters were liberals and they were or have recently been taking these drugs.