Our neighbour to the south (and our National Protector) is in an epidemic of mass shootings – plus other forms of gun violence which rarely make the headlines. The easiest response is to blame mental illness: “Who in their right mind would do this?” This is mistaken. Severe mental illnesses are not the major cause of mass shootings. The statistics bear this out, as do many in the mental health field.
It is also dangerous to stigmatize all people who suffer clear devastating mental disorders; this approach can subject them to inappropriate restrictions, while doing nothing for either their problems or the US’ social problem with gun violence.
According to the (US) National Council for Behavioral Health, estimates are that individuals with mental illnesses are responsible for less than 4% of all violent crimes in the USA, and less than a third of people who do commit mass shootings are diagnosed as mentally ill. The large majority of those suffering mental illnesses are not at high risk for committing violent acts. Continuing to blame mental illness distracts us from finding the real causes of mass shootings and addressing them directly.
Hull / Gatineau