The new NRA President, Oliver North, said this on the most recent school shooting in Texas:
“The problem that we’ve got is we’re trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease, and the disease in this case isn’t the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence.”
“Nearly all of these perpetrators are male, and they’re young teenagers in most cases, and they’ve come through a culture where violence is commonplace. All we need to do is turn on a TV, go to a movie. If you look at what has happened to the young people, many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten. Now, I am certainly not a doctor; I’m a Marine. But I can see those kinds of things happening.”
I have a lot of respect for North, but he stepped all over what should have been his message. Guns, especially semi-automatics, have been available for more than 100 years, but there were no mass shootings in schools until quite recently. North is absolutely right about the culture of violence in our country. Look at the graphically portrayed shootings, stabbings and explosions all across our media – blood and guts in sickening detail. Instead of hammering home a clear message of cultural decay and depravity, North handed the left a gift by mentioning Ritalin as a possible cause of school violence. The first step to cure a problem is admitting you have one and Col. North did as much when he said, “I’m certainly not a doctor, I’m a Marine.” Now, I’m not a Marine but I am a doctor. Psychiatric drugs like Ritalin, Prozac et. al., do not cause people to grab a gun and start shooting. The drugs are often prescribed for troubled people, some of whom have been mass shooters, to treat anxiety, depression, hyperactivity and a number of different psychiatric problems. The overwhelming majority of people on such medications are law-abiding.
North made a classic correlation error, which is mistaking things which are associated (found in common) for causes. For example, sick people are often found in doctors’ offices. Does this mean that doctors cause sickness? No. Sick people go to the doctor to relieve their suffering; the doctor does not cause their suffering.
North unwittingly conformed to the stereotype the left sets up for us as ignorant, stupid, insensitive and anti-science. Predictably, the left had a field day with North’s comments.
Usually, the left makes things up to attack us. In this case, Col. North gave them a talking point with an unforced error, while obscuring a valid issue about cultural depravity and violence.
Michael A. Morrongiello, Ph. D.