A Delaware County psychiatrist who drew his own gun to stop a patient who fatally shot a caseworker deserves to be called a hero for preventing the tragedy from becoming a massacre. But the incident isn't evidence that more people ought to be carrying guns.
One cringes at the thought of what might have happened at Mercy Fitzgerald Hospital's wellness center had Lee Silverman not been able to draw a pistol he kept in his pocket and shoot Richard Plotts, who had fatally shot caseworker Theresa Hunt.
Plotts, who reportedly had been Silverman's patient at various times, apparently obtained several guns before buyers were required to undergo background checks, which might have prevented someone with his medical history from purchasing a gun.
Some gun-rights activists contend that the country would be safer if more people in similar situations could, like Silverman, return fire with their own weapons. But America no longer resembles the Wild West for a good reason: We can't all be Wyatt Earp. People figured out more than a hundred years ago that guns aren't an equalizer if your assailant can draw faster or has a more powerful weapon.
But firepower isn't the only concern when it comes to violence. Plotts' mental history also raises the question that he might have been taking a prescribed drug that affected his behavior. Researchers have considered that possibility in studying similar acts of violence, including school shootings, committed by people who took psychiatric drugs.
Aaron Ybarra, who shot three students, killing one, at Seattle Pacific University in June, had recently stopped taking Prozac.
Twelve-year-old Jose Reyes was reportedly taking a generic form of the drug when he killed a teacher and wounded two classmates at a Nevada middle school in October.
Aaron Alexis, the Washington Navy Yard shooter who killed 12 people in September, reportedly had been taking the antidepressant Trazodone.
Is it possible that some drugs prescribed for mental illness may make certain patients more aggressive? Has the Food and Drug Administration acted too quickly to approve some drugs? More gun control is crucial to limiting violence, but let's also make certain that psychiatric drugs aren't playing a role in some shootings.