Oregon Observations

Now that the dust has settled, it is time to make a rational review of the mass murder committed at Umpqua Community College in Oregon. The bullet points (unintentional bad pun) are:

  • Interesting covariance in murder profiles
  • Continued lack of full disclosure hampers finding a solution
  • Initial actions to find a solution
  • A trend in corrupting definitions, aided anti-gun politicians

What We Know

Though the official investigation is not available as I type, we know a few interesting and disturbing tidbits about the murderer.

History of mental illness: This came as no surprise to anyone. Various news reports 1have confirmed that the murderer attended a “nonprofit school … geared for special education students with a range of issues from learning disabilities, health problems and autism or Asperger’s Disorder.” His mother’s online posts confirm this. 2 Other news stories 3 quote people describing the murderer’s odd behavior patterns. The Army booted him from boot camp after a month (and given how recruit-hungry they are, it is curious that they dismissed him). Current privacy laws (more on the “current” bit later) will likely prevent us from knowing if he had definable condition that might have been worth worrying about.

Medications: Medical literature is rife with studies showing unpredictable violent behavior resulting from certain classes of medications used to treat mental disorders (an entire web site is devoted to just SSRIs and violence). Recall that the Columbine killers purposefully endured cold-turkey withdraw from their meds in order to ramp-up their rage for their killing spree, something of an induced mental illness. Though nothing has yet been released (and may never be released) concerning the murderer’s meds, that one of his screen names was “lithium love” makes me wonder. 4

Studied mass murders: The murderer apparently studied, if not glorified, public killings and mass murder. 5 He even noted that “the more people you kill, the more you’re in the limelight.”

Guns that were not his: Though not completely confirmed, it appears his single mother owned and kept guns in the house despite her son’s mental health history.

Alienation: Though only leaked in dribs by officers, the murderer’s exit letter spoke of being unfulfilled and alienated. 6 The alienation was complete enough that the murderer said he would be “welcomed in Hell and embraced by the devil.”

[Editor: Do note that the list of items above were shared with the Sandy Hook murderer. Also, the murderer spoke of sexual frustration, which echoes the videos left by the Santa Barbara knife/car/gun killer]

Common Causes and Crusades

Many of the other details were predictable, namely:

  • All guns were legally obtained after background checks.
  • Nothing in the current mental health regime would have put the murderer into a tracking system.
  • Many self-serving politicians immediately proffered legislation that could not have prevented the shooting (the murderer fired only handguns – having stashed a rifle someone on campus – yet the call to renew the “assault weapon” ban was instantaneous).

In the face of this insanity, sane people would ask “what is the root cause” or “what is the actual disease” (as opposed to the symptoms). In a country that has at least one privately owned gun for every man, woman and hermaphrodite, we see little routine gun violence outside of inner cities. Even mass murders like the one at Umpqua Community College are statistically rare. By definition, guns or gun availability are not determinant variables. If guns or access to them were a determinant variable to either homicides or mass murder, then every neighborhood covering all races and every economic stratum would experience these tragedies.

But they don’t.

So if gun availability is not a root cause, then we look elsewhere. In terms of mass public shootings, we see a strongly associated connection with mental health disorders (and likely similar statistics for non-gun mass murders, though to my knowledge nobody has tallied the mental health backgrounds of these people). When Mother Jones (traditionally a big fan of gun control) tallied American mass murders, they discovered at a minimum 62% of the murderers had known mental health histories (since Mother Jones scraped their analysis from news reports, and since privacy laws routinely disallow disclosure of any medical records, the percentage is likely much higher).

We can then stipulate that guns or their availability are not a determinant variable, but mental illness likely is. Thus we must examine this as a cure to the disease and not a treatment of a symptom.

[Editor: Though tied to gang violence, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta notes how deploying “interrupters” can be used to reduce violence and homicides and how if may be applicable to mass murder as well. 7]

Modest Mental Health Proposals

To fix a problem, you must understand the problem. At this point we do not understand it. To learn, there are a few things that can be done, though the results will not be immediate:

  • MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS: Legislation could and should allow all patient records of murders (mass or otherwise) to be made public, including their pharmacological history (add blood samples to measure their last medication level). This begins the process of aggregating knowledge.
  • CENTRAL REPOSITORY: The federal government should spend the tiny sum required to consolidate this information, along with criminological research into mass murderers within a publicly accessible repository with the intent of opening the raw research data to all researchers.
  • SPONSOR DEEP INTERVIEWS: One missing puzzle piece is knowing what drives a person over the edge, from alienated and angry to actually committing murder. Again, a tiny amount of money for deep interviews with everyone who knew a murderer in the years before their crime. This analysis also goes into the public repository.
  • ANALYSIS: With complete, succinct and easily available histories of mass murderers, let criminologist, psychologists and sociologist review the data and begin finding covariance and trigger actions.

What Isn’t Appropriate

Frankly, Barack Obama was inappropriate.

It is a matter of prescribed practice of the gun control industry to get in front of cameras as soon as possible – before any information is known – to promote gun control legislation. 8 To see the President of the United States running the field using the gun control industry’s playbook is inappropriate, bordering on disgusting.

Equally vile was the chorus of politicians who in less than 24 hours promoted their personal gun control wish lists 9 without any consideration of the efficacy of their laws. Of course with no real details available in the first 24 hours, no lawmaker could know … which is the point.

Also inappropriate is the intentional mangling of the definition of a “mass public shooting” or a “school shooting”. These have specific criminology definitions, which appear to be too rigid for gun control advocates. Some have included instances in which one person was killed as a “mass murder” and others have included gang shootings near a school campus,  where neither the shooter nor victim were students, as a “school shooting”. Redefining established criminology definitions is, in a word, lying … and it needs to stop.

Most importantly is that we know the likely core behind mass public shootings. Just a brief glance at the ones that catch our attention the most include:

Columbine: Induced psychotropic medication withdraw psychosis.

VA Tech: Murderer came a hairs breath away from being involuntarily confined.

Arora: Major wakadoodle … thought he was the Joker in a Batman adventure.

Sandy Hook: History of Asperger’s, medications, fantasizing over mass murders.

Lafayette: Family of murderer confirms years-long mental health issues.

Seal Beach: Civilian post-traumatic stress disorder.

Tucson: Derangement that made the Aurora shooter look sane by comparison.

Isla Vista: Long-term mental disorders, medications, alienation.

Umpqua: History of mental issues, assumed medications, fascination with mass murderer fame.

Notes:

  1. Oregon shooter: New details emerge about Chris Harper-Mercer, The Oregonian, October 2, 2015
  2. Official: Ore. gunman ranted about lack of girlfriend, USA Today, October 6, 2015
  3. Official: Oregon gunman left angry note glorifying mass killers, USA Today, October 3, 2015
  4. Oregon shooter: New details emerge about Chris Harper-Mercer, The Oregonian, October 2, 2015
  5. Survivor: Gunman spared ‘lucky one’ to give police message, Sacramento Bee, October 3, 2015
  6. Oregon college gunman committed suicide and had amassed 14 firearms, officials say, L.A. Times, October 3, 2015
  7. The epidemic of gun violence is treatable, CNN.com, October 5, 2015
  8. Preventing Gun Violence Through Effective Messaging, OMP, KNP Communications, Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, 2012
  9. Democratic Lawmakers Urge Gun Control After Oregon Shooting, Time, October 2, 2015

Comments

Oregon Observations — 1 Comment

  1. Psychotropic meds are the glaring common denominator. These are pushed onto people from childhood to “cure” what (especially in boys) is perfectly normal behavior. Then there’s the lack of common sense, morality and and discipline. (Discipline is not synonymous with punishment: It means “to learn.”)

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