Gun violence in the US

Incoming NRA chief Oliver North blames school shootings on ‘culture of violence’

Retired US marine also suggested that drugs used to treat children who are said to have social disorders may have something to do with rising gun violence

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 11:24pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2018, 11:24pm

Two days after a 17-year-old opened fire in his Texas high school, killing at least 10 people, incoming National Rifle Association president Oliver North said students “shouldn’t have to be afraid” to go to school and blamed the problem on “a culture of violence” in which many young boys have “been on Ritalin” since early childhood.

Appearing on Fox New Sunday, the retired marine best known for his role in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s said, “You are not going to fix it by taking away the rights of law-abiding citizens.”

Instead, he said, schools should look at fortifying their campuses, considering ingress and egress points and people’s ability to enter buildings carrying weapons.

There was a risk, North said, in “treating symptom without treating the disease”, and the disease, he said, isn’t the Second Amendment.

Santa Fe High School was considered a hardened target, with an active-shooter plan and two armed police officers on patrol. Last fall, school district leaders made plans to eventually arm teachers and staff under the state’s school marshal programme.

North, 74, is a high-profile choice to lead the NRA, which has faced mounting criticism since the Valentine’s Day shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, Florida, in which a gunman killed 17 people.

He previously appeared to criticise student activists who have been pushing for gun control and on Sunday said they “are being used by forces far bigger than they are”, including former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg and financier and philanthropist George Soros.

“I was not criticising those kids,” said North, who has said that the NRA was the victim of “civil terrorism”.

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, a Republican, blamed what he deemed the social acceptance of abortion and violent video games for the epidemic of school gun violence.

“Should we be surprised in this nation? We have devalued life, whether it’s through abortion, whether it’s the break-up of families or violent movies and particularly violent video games,” he said on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. “Psychologists and psychiatrists will tell you that students are desensitised to violence and have lost empathy to their victims by watching hours and hours of violent video games.”

North said his goal as president is to increase membership of the 6 million-strong organisation by 1 million and then to ask every member to recruit one more, to form a 14 million-member group.

In a tweet at the time of his election, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch called North a “total warrior for freedom” and “the last person that anti-gun advocates would want as the new president of the NRA board”.