WASHINGTON (NEXSTAR) — Following the mass murders in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, President Donald Trump placed the blame on mental illness.
“A sick mind pulls the trigger,” Trump said.
“We don’t want people that are mentally ill, people that are are sick, we don’t want them having guns,” he added.
Amy Swearer with the Heritage Foundation agrees that mental illness may be a factor, but says it’s not that simple.
“Every mass shooter is different,” she said. “I don’t think it’s fair to categorize them the same way.”
Swearer says while there may be a link to mass shootings, the stronger connection is between untreated mental illness and suicide.
“There is a sense in which we have to look at the reality of how specifically untreated serious mental illness plays a role in this,” Swearer added.
A recent report on mental illness published by the National Council for Behavioral Health says while there is a modest link between mental illness and violence, there is no basis for the public’s generalized fear of people with mental illness.
The study maintains that “having a psychiatric diagnosis is neither necessary nor sufficient as a risk factor for committing an act of mass violence” while stressing that “simplistic conclusions ignore the fact that mass violence is caused by many social and psychological factors.”
The American Psychological Association warned that “routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing.”
Charanya Krishnaswami with Amnesty International agrees.
“Individuals with mental health issues are so much more often the victims of these types of actions of gun violence rather than their perpetrators,” Krishnaswami said.
But for now, Trump has signaled his response to the mass shootings will focus on mental health concerns by supporting measures like “red flag” laws, which seek to take guns out of the hands of people who are considered a danger to others or themselves.