Stop saying all mass shooters are mentally ill. Not all mentally ill are violent | Opinion

By John A. Tures

As we’ve learned from the recent spate of young shooters, their relationship to mental health isn’t always so clear-cut.

After the Buffalo and Uvalde shootings, we notice a pattern among the gunmen. Politicians and pundits have quickly labeled any shooter as a mental health case, but don’t always do something about the problem. Trump blamed mental health issues for the shooting but failed to acknowledge that he had revoked an executive order that made it more difficult for people with mental illness to get a gun.

In the NBC News article, Abbott said the gunman had a “mental health issue.” A month ago, he cut funding to help,” the authors wrote. “In rejecting suggestions that tougher gun laws could have prevented the tragedy, Abbott admitted the murdered 18-year-old suspect had no known mental health problems or criminal history. had, but said, “Anyone who shoots someone else has a mental health challenge.”

I would disagree. Just because a soldier, police officer, or someone in self-defense shoots someone else doesn’t mean they have a mental health problem.

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That does not mean that people with mental illness are more likely to be violent. In fact, as the 2018 New York Times report (reposted June 8, 2022) concluded, with interviews with a psychiatrist, most violence is not caused by mental illness.

The NBC story adds, “There is no evidence the shooter is mentally ill, just angry and spiteful,” said Lori Post, director of the Buehler Center for Health Policy and Economics at Northwestern University School of Medicine. “While it’s understandable that most people can’t fathom the butchering of small children and attribute it to mental health, it’s very rare for a mass shooter to have a diagnosed mental illness.”

The Daily on NPR agreed, quoting a mental health expert pointing out that these are angry young men and not the mentally ill. “They think the world owes them something,” she concluded.

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At the time, my son and I drove to exercise together. We had a discussion about the radio show and its claims.

“One of the lessons kids learn from the media and politics is that people owe something,” I told him. “But the strongest lesson I’ve learned from Christianity is that the world owes us nothing. Quite the opposite. In fact, the lesson I have learned from Christianity is that we owe something to the world, a life based on serving others, helping the less fortunate. I’m also happiest when I’m helping someone else, and I think that’s something not everyone is taught, even some in religion.”

There is no magic bullet to solve every mass shooting. But maybe turning this script around and focusing on what really matters is a good start.

Opinion Contributor John A. Tures is a professor of political science at LaGrange College in LaGrange, Georgia. His work regularly appears on Capital-Star’s commentary page. His views are his own. Readers can email him at: [email protected]and follow him on Twitter, @JohnTures2

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