Another Mass Shooting. America Yawns–reaction

Here’s part of a listener response I received after talking about the recent mass shooting in Oregon, and how America will do nothing:

Why not just be honest?  The Democrat’s gun laws have one goal, to disarm law abiding citizens.  So now you call for us to “Do Something” shouldn’t it be do something that would actually have a positive effect?  All of these spree killers have had history of mental illness, how about we simply go back to locking up the mentally ill for their own safety and the safety of others?  But no doubt that would hit the Democrat’s voter base too hard to ever be done.  Can’t we at least reverse the horrible decision you liberals made with the “Gun Free Zones”?  How about we start there?

Here’s a part of my response:

As for your whole “Gun Free Zone” comment, I have to say that you’re right. Just because some building my be “gun-free” doesn’t mean absolute safety. Just because you have a gun doesn’t mean you’re safe, either. As we saw with the police officers killed in NYC, Las Vegas, and Houston, guns don’t really help you if someone else has the drop on you. And because of these lax gun laws, nut-jobs are allowed to get guns and fire away.

After I replied to the email, I found this interview of Dr. Jonathon Metzl in Vox, and he highlights a misnomer when it comes to mass shooters:

Jonathon Metzl, a professor of psychiatry, sociology, and medicine, health, and society at Vanderbilt University, argues that mental illness is often a scapegoat that lets policymakers and the public ignore bigger, more complicated contributors to gun violence. Metzl, who reviewed the research on mass shootings and mental illness in a paper for theAmerican Journal of Public Health, points to studies that show people with mental illness are more likely to be victims — not perpetrators — of violence, and that very few violent acts — about 3 to 5 percent — are carried out by the mentally ill. And while mental illness can be a contributor to some violent behaviors, other factors — such as substance abuse, poverty, history of violence, and access to guns — are much stronger predictors of violence and shootings.

It’s a fascinating interview, and it could change your perceptions around mass shooters and their psyche. Perhaps we shouldn’t be focusing on just mental illness when it comes to gun violence.

Metzl concludes:

Let me be clear. I think mental illness is a factor, clearly, in many mass shootings. But I think there is no one diagnosis that’s linked to mass shootings, so there’s no psychiatric test that can prevent a mass shooting.

Mass shootings, as traumatic and horrible as they are, are statistically very rare, so they’re very hard to predict. So I think we’re far better off as a society trying to prevent everyday shootings — and when you look at everyday shootings, there really is no strong correlation between mental illness and shootings.

pat@wsgw.com

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