Photo: Scott Olson (Getty Images)

The tactic promoted by the National Rifle Association to respond to mass school shootings by talking about everything except guns continued on Sunday, just two days after 10 people were killed and 10 others injured at a high school massacre near Houston.

Appearing on Fox News, incoming NRA president Oliver North blamed the epidemic of mass shootings in the United States on the “disease” of youngsters “steeped in a culture of violence” and hooked on the ADHD drug Ritalin (which is manufactured by the pharmaceutical giant Novartis, a company recently called out for paying Donald Trump’s fixer Michael Cohen $1.2 million for access to the president).

Advertisement

North said:

The problem that we got is we are 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. They have been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male and they are young teenagers in most cases.

And they have come through a culture where violence is commonplace. All you need to do is turn on the 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…

Advertisement

While the issue of Ritalin being prescribed to an estimated 4 million schoolchildren in the U.S. each year is a conversation worth having, Oliver North bringing it up in the context of the country’s 22nd school shooting this year is rich. Then again, maybe North is the appropriate person to discuss drugs and guns—after all, he did help run an illegal arms and cocaine trafficking operation in Central America in the 1980s to illegally fund and arm the violent Nicaraguan Contras, a paramilitary group.

Oliver North and drugs and guns go way back.

North said that an NRA program called “School Shield” could have helped the Santa Fe High School in Texas.

Advertisement

“It’s a program, the NRA introduced it two years ago,” North said. “It’s a—we’ll go do an assessment, costs the school nothing, costs the taxpayers nothing to get the assessment, as to what the issues are in terms of ingress, egress, the ability to hide a firearm and get them into a school. The number of officers you really need.”

Photo: Michael Conroy (AP)

A report Saturday in The Washington Post noted:

The school district had an active-shooter plan, and two armed police officers walked the halls of the high school. School district leaders had even agreed last fall to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal program, one of the country’s most aggressive and controversial policies intended to get more guns into classrooms.

They thought they were a hardened target, part of what’s expected today of the American public high school in an age when school shootings occur with alarming frequency.

Advertisement

Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who on Friday blamed the country’s latest massacre on “too many entrances and too many exits,” repeated similar claims on Sunday, leaving guns out of the equation once again.

Playing armchair psychologist and somehow blaming abortion, Patrick told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (emphasis mine):

We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the breakup of families, through violent movies, and particularly violent video games.

Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitized to violence, may have lost empathy for their victims by watching hours and hours of video violent games. Ninety-seven percent, George, of teenagers, according to psychiatrists and psychologists, watch video games, and 85% of those are violent games. Are we desensitized? Are these children, are these teenagers?

And then, of course, George, we have our schools that are not hard targets

Advertisement

Patrick added: “We have to look at ourselves, George, it’s not about the guns, it’s about us.”

The Texas Republican then said he would pray with the Santa Fe victims.

Shannon Watts, founder of the group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, summarized in a tweet what seems to be going on:

Advertisement

Update, Sunday, 3:57 p.m.: Nicholas Poehl, one of the attorneys representing 17-year-old Santa Fe High School shooter Dimitrios Pagourtzis, told MSNBC on Sunday that as far as he knew, Pagourtzis had not been prescribed any mind-altering medications such as Ritalin. Poehl called statements by Oliver North blaming drugs like Ritalin and video games for the massacre a “gross overgeneralization.”