America has a long history of blaming something other than guns for gun deaths. We’ve had people blaming backpacks, we’ve had people saying fewer doors in schools would mean fewer school shootings, and of course, we’ve blamed violent video games.
Now, following the latest school shooting on Friday, the NRA’s incoming president has suggested that vital medication may be to blame for the school shootings, rather than the obvious culprit.
Oliver North appeared on Fox News Sunday and was first shown two clips of young students who had just witnessed the shooting at Santa Fe High School.
“I shouldn’t be going through this at my school,” one student, Dakota Schrader, said. “I feel scared to even go back.”
“It’s been happening everywhere,” Paige Curry said. “I’ve always kind of felt like eventually it was going to happen here too.”
In reply, North told the show that violence on TV and in movies was to blame, as well as Ritalin.
“We’re trying like the dickens to treat the symptom without treating the disease… The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence. They’ve been drugged in many cases,” he told the anchor.
“Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in Kindergarten. Now I am certainly not a doctor” – yes, Oliver, that much is clear – “I’m a marine, but I can see those kinds of things happening and endangering those two gals.”
— Fox News (@FoxNews) 20 May 2018
The suspect, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis, is not reported to be on Ritalin. His attorney Nicholas Poehl said on Sunday that he was not aware that Pagourtzis was on any kind of medication at all, Business Insider reports. He was surprised that North would suggest the link, in a case that was less than 48 hours old.
But does the science back up North’s Ritalin claim? In short: No.
George DuPaul, a psychologist at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, told the Associated Press that children on Ritalin actually tend to be less aggressive.
“There’s really no evidence whatsoever that links treatment for ADHD with Ritalin and drugs like that with violence, let alone gun violence,” he said.
“What’s more likely is that kids with mental health conditions who engage in this type of violent behavior, it’s the underlying condition and not the treatment that leads to this behavior.”
“When taken under the direction of a doctor, Ritalin can greatly improve the symptoms of ADHD and allow children to perform better in school and have better relationships with their peers.” Dr Eugene Gu, a physician and healthcare columnist, tweeted.
“Blame guns for gun violence – not the medication that may help bring it under control.”
As many people have pointed out, the NRA will do anything, including blaming sometimes vital medication, to avoid blaming guns.
I took Ritalin as a kid. I’ve never even held a gun let alone shot somebody. By stigmatizing mental health as a way to scapegoat for Sante Fe, the @NRA is creating new problems instead of solving the real one.
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) 20 May 2018
Things responsible for school shootings:
Too many doors
Not enough walls
Walls that are too thin
The liberal media
Not enough police officers
Ineffective police officers
Not enough guns
Things not responsible:
Too many guns
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) 20 May 2018
Dear Ollie North:
The rest of the world has Ritalin, violent video games, less police, liberal media, bad parents, mental illness and just as many doors.
What they don’t have is school shootings, the @NRA and the dumbest gun laws on earth. Try again.
— Steve Redmond (@sjredmond) 21 May 2018
Europe has just as much:
– Mentall illness
– Video gaming
– Access to doors
It has far fewer:
– Guns deaths
— Ben Wexler (@mrbenwexler) 20 May 2018
Things Republicans blamed for mass school shootings this week:
Thing Republicans did not blame: Easy access to guns in America
— Brandon Friedman (@BFriedmanDC) 20 May 2018
First off, blaming ritalin? Fuck you. I took ritalin from 9-18. Second, if you talk about a "Culture of Violence", how is the fetishization of gun ownership not a bigger factor than "violent video games"? https://t.co/n90lI7pDSy
— Travis, Possibly Illuminati, Not Sure How To Tell (@travismcelroy) 20 May 2018