Las Vegas Questions

Oct 5, 2017
As Las Vegas authorities ask grieving families and angry politicians for patience, it appears the country expects near-immediate answers for questions that ultimately, may never be answered. The tragedy in Las Vegas wasn't a movie, it was real life. And real life seldom comes with a tidily wrapped up end.

In the absence of a conclusion, it seems "the usual suspects" are simply looking to convict gun owners.

Their reasoning seems to be that since "intelligent people" don't own guns, those who do must be guilty of...something.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California still believes more government control would solve everything. She's now calling for a ban on devices that increase the rate of fire of semi-automatic rifles - like the "Bump fire" stock.

That's only the first of what will likely be a deluge of emotionally-drawn legislation that will allow people who are unwilling to admit there's a real problem -mental illness- to divert the nation's attention away from that fact.

And House Speaker Paul Ryan, recognizing the optics of the Hearing Protection Act has announced that it has been "shelved." Actually, he says it's "shelved indefinitely." After the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a congressional baseball practice stopped the HPA last year, it seems it really is going nowhere in the foreseeable future -if at all.

Meanwhile, the mental health issue remains the line of discussion most politicians and reporters seem least interested in pursing.

That's because there are no bogeymen to demonize and no quick and easy answers. And since the first step toward addressing a mental health issue is recognizing the fact there is a real problem, it's likely a substantive discussion of the mental health crisis in the United States will occur about the same time as a vote on the HPA.

I've been carrying on discussions with several psychiatrists, psychologists and clinicians. And I've deliberately avoided telling any of them I had discussions with others in their fields. That's because I wanted to see what -if any- similarities and differences they might have in their observations concerning what might have pushed Stephen Paddock to an act he obviously never intended to survive.

Each of them mentioned the fact that while his father's being a lifelong criminal didn't necessarily mean he or his brother were destined to follow in his footsteps, it did increase the chances that Paddock may have inherited some of his father's traits.

In Paddock's case, however, one expert said it appeared he'd channeled his actions toward non-criminal activities, i.e., working hard and making money honestly. Another said his love of gambling may have filled a a need for outsmarting, or beating, other people.

Another factor may have been the anti-anxiety drug he'd been prescribed. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that diazepam, the drug prescribed for Paddock in June has been tied to incidents of aggressive, if not violent behavior.

The brand name of diazepam: valium. A sedative-hypnotic drug in the benzodiazepines class, studies have shown that it can trigger aggressive behavior.

Dr. Mel Pohl, chief medical officer of the Las Vegas Recovery Center, told the Review-Journal the drugs effects can be magnified by alcohol. "If somebody has an underlying aggression problem and you sedate them with this drug, they can become aggressive."

Another expert told me that he was "biased about this kind of thing" due to having run a center that regularly dealt with people who had been "messed up by conventional medicine" and said "iatrogenic illness happens all too-frequently."

"Physicians and shrinks," he said, "will just prescribe rather than helping people deal with what ails them."

And while the hue and cry from anti-gun politicians and their supporters grows, there's a new Rasmussen poll that they're probably avoid discussing. According to that poll, 52 percent of Americans say the attack "will have no impact on their decisions where to go."

But the heated rhetoric continues. "Moms Demand Gun Sense in America" has sent an email urging people to contact Congress to oppose national reciprocity legislation. National reciprocity, the email says, "would allow people to carry hidden, loaded handguns in public throughout the county without ever getting a permit, having passed a background check or receiving gun safety training."

While the feigned-outrage continues, our colleague Dave Workman points out -correctly- one thing that anti-gun groups aren't saying, but are actually proving with their calls for new laws: gun control laws don't work.

If the legislation that's supposed to solve the problem continues to leave the problem unresolved, might it not be time to examine the possibility that the problem they want addressed might actually be a symptom of the real issue? .

--Jim Shepherd