Following the mass shooting at a rural Texas church, in which a white “lone suspect” killed 26 people and injured more than 20, President Donald Trump decried the horrific incident as a “mental health problem” and not a gun control issue in the United States.
When Trump was asked by a reporter at a joint press briefing with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe if he would consider gun control measures since the U.S. just witnessed a second mass shooting in a month, the POTUS said: "Mental health is your problem here. This isn't a guns situation. This is a mental health problem at the highest level. It's a very, very sad event."
By blaming mental health for a mass shooting Trump, like many other Republicans, is peddling a myth that research has already debunked. "Only an estimated 4 percent of violence against others is caused by the symptoms of serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder," The Washington Post reported. "Impulsivity, anger, traumatic life events such as job loss or divorce, and problematic alcohol use are all stronger risk factors for gun violence."
According to the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds, only 5 percent of gun crimes are committed by mentally ill people. According to economist Richard Florida, it is also pertinent to note that countries with a higher percentage of mental illness do not have a higher percentage of gun deaths.
Florida discovered states with tighter gun control have fewer deaths by gun violence.
Devin Patrick Kelley, the suspected Texas shooter, who is white, is believed to be mentally ill.
Trump's response was radically different last week when a suspected Muslim attacker, Sayfullo Habibullaevic Saipov, a U.S. immigrant from Uzbekistan, rammed into people on a on a bike path in Lower Manhattan.
Trump was quick to condemn the attack as terrorism and immediately called for ending the Diversity Visa Lottery Program.
In the case, of the Texas shooting, Trump is following a well-documented Republican tradition of blaming mental illness — and not the easy access to guns — for the tragedy.
“Fortunately somebody else had a gun that was shooting in the opposite direction, otherwise it wouldn’t have been as bad as it was, it would have been much worse,” said the president.
“We’ve had shootings in churches for, you know, for forever. It’s going to happen again, and so we need people in churches, professional security or at least arming some of the parishioner or the congregation so they can respond if something like this — when something like this happens again,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, touting the National Rifle Association’s long-held agenda, suggesting more people should carry guns.
Thumbnail Credits: Reuters, Jonathan Ernst