President Donald Trump on Monday, speaking about two mass shootings occuring over the weekend, stated the need for mental health reforms to take center stage in the debate on how to address such incidents.
Trump placed most of the blame for Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, Texas, and Sunday morning’s shooting in Dayton, Ohio, on mental illness.
“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun,” Trump said, per reporting from BuzzFeed News.
Yet mental health experts say that a focus on mental illness may not solve much of the problem at hand, expressing worry over the possibility that making the issue a cornerstone of how to address mass shootings may be more detrimental than anything else.
This morning, the American *president further perpetuated the stigma associated w mental illness & conflated violence and mass shootings w the mentally ill.
Mental illness DID NOT PULL THE TRIGGER; 2 WHITE MEN DID.
Using mental illness as a scapegoat is incredibly dangerous pic.twitter.com/IwzFQe6NCK
— Khary Penebaker, Fx (@kharyp) August 5, 2019
Arthur Evans, executive officer of the American Psychological Association, spoke to CNN and said that it is “inaccurate and stigmatizing” to suggest mental health is causing the problem.
Mental health is only part of the equation, he added. Were it the primary culprit, there’d be evidence of such.
“If this were a mental health issue and this was the only issue involved here, what you would see is roughly the same number of mass shootings around the world and we’re not seeing that,” Evans added.
Lori Ann Post, a professor of emergency medicine at Northwestern University, agreed, pointing out that many mass shootings tend to fit into certain categories — hate crimes, for instance, or revenge killings — that can’t be prevented with mental health screenings or any other methods to stop them in advance.
“Mental health definitely has a role in gun shootings and that’s mostly people who are depressed and kill themselves — however, not mass shootings,” Post said.
It’s interesting to note Trump’s sudden interest in addressing mental health as part of the equation — especially since he signed a bill into law early in his presidency that rolled back an Obama-era regulation that made it more difficult for those with mental illnesses to purchase guns, NBC News reported. The bill signed by Trump was hailed by the National Rifle Association at the time as a positive development.