Think Progress appears to believe that focusing on a link between mental illness and mass shootings is a National Rifle Association tactic designed to divert attention away from the need for gun control legislation.
Closely-related arguments were put forth this week by the American Psychiatric Association, which seems more concerned about stigmatization of mentally ill people than with identifying potentially dangerous individuals who pose risks to their communities.
People with mental illness account for only a very small share of homicides in the U.S. http://t.co/tVaxK8Yx
— APA (@APA) December 18, 2012
The power of words can change mental health stigma, especially when violence is attributed to "mental illness" http://t.co/Zq4m3k5P
— APA (@APA) December 19, 2012
Today, APA released a statement slamming NRA chief Wayne LaPierre for suggesting that most mass shooters are mentally ill:
In a statement to the media distributed this afternoon, APA said that [NRA head Wayne] LaPierre’s assumption that horrendous crimes such as the one committed by shooter Adam Lanza are commonly perpetrated by persons with mental illness. In addition, he conflated mental illness with evil at several points in his talk and suggested that those who commit heinous gun crimes are “so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them,” a description that leads to the further stigmatization of people with mental illnesses.
APA President, Dilip Jeste, M.D., pointed out, “About one-quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes. On today’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Mr. LaPierre used the word ‘lunatic’ as a catchphrase for those who commit violent crimes. Such language is not only offensive, it further contributes to the idea that violent crimes are necessarily committed by people with mental disorders.”
Some liberal tweeters appear to agree:
— Lori T. (@LoriTharps) December 23, 2012
NRA tries to distract w/concern over mental illness as cause of GunMassacres. Crazies are all over the world but America has too many guns.
— From A Citizen (@CuestionMarque) December 23, 2012
At the NRA presser, watch for a strong emphasis on the "mental illness" angle. They've had proxies pushing this to the media all week.
— Charles Johnson (@Green_Footballs) December 18, 2012
It surely is true that most mentally ill people are not violent, but it seems equally clear that most mass shooters have serious mental health problems — and in many cases those problems were evident before the shooting occurred.
Consider the following list of infamous gunmen:
- Newtown, Conn., shooter Adam Lanza
- Virginia Tech shooter Cho Seung-Hui
- Aurora, Colo., shooter James Holmes
- Tuscon, Ariz., shooter Jared Loughner
- Columbine High School shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
It is very likely that all six of these gunmen were all — wait for it — mentally ill.
- At the time of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, Lanza’s mother reportedly was on the verge on committing her troubled son to a mental health hospital.
- Prior to his shooting at Virginia Tech, Seung-Hui was declared mentally ill by a Virginia special justice.
- Holmes sought help from three mental health experts prior to his deadly shooting in Aurora, Colo. His lawyers claim he has an unspecified mental illness.
- Loughner has schizophrenia.
- Eric Harris was seeing a psychiatrist and was prescribed antidepressants. An analysis of Klebold’s diaries indicated that he was “suicidally depressed.”
We know, we know. You’re as shocked as we are.
Mark Follman, a writer for the left-wring magazine Mother Jones, examined 62 mass shootings. He concludes that “[a] majority were mentally ill” and “[a]cute paranoia, delusions, and depression were rampant among them.”
We don’t expect Think Progress and the APA to listen to Twitchy, but you’d think they might respect the judgment of a fellow liberal writing in a liberal publication.