Experts Quick To Rebut Damaging But Popular Talking Point That It’s ‘Mental Illness That Pulls The Trigger’
“The overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent and far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violence," said the American Psychiatric Association. "Rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment." But what does cause these shooters to lash out? Experts say it isn't the video games that are also often blamed. There are contributing factors, like a radicalization of ideology, that can prove to be warning signs however.
The Associated Press:
Experts: Mental Illness Not Main Driver Of Mass Shootings
Mental health experts repeated what they have said after previous mass shootings: Most people with mental illness are not violent, they are far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators, and access to firearms is a big part of the problem. "Until we begin to have our political leaders speaking more accurately to these issues, it's up to us to put the facts out there," said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association. (Johnson, 8/5)
Trump Seeks Mental Health Law Reform After Deadly Mass Shootings
One recent study published in Preventive Medicine this year examined the question of whether a person's mental health state was linked to gun violence. Instead, researchers found people with access to a gun were far more likely to have threatened others or to have carried the gun outside. People who could get their hands on a firearm were more than 18 times more likely to use a gun as a threat, as opposed to people with "high hostility" who were 3.5 times more likely. (Luthi, 8/5)
Psychological Association Warns Against 'Blaming Mass Shootings On Mental Illness'
In a statement, the American Psychiatric Association (APA) said gun violence is a public health crisis, and noted that “the overwhelming majority of people with mental illness are not violent and far more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of violence.” The APA said that people with mental illness are being stigmatized. "Rhetoric that argues otherwise will further stigmatize and interfere with people accessing needed treatment. Individuals can also be emboldened to act violently by the public discourse and divisive rhetoric,” the organization said. (Weixel, 8/5)
The New York Times:
Politicians Again Blame Video Games For Shootings, Despite Evidence
Armed with little and often unconvincing evidence, politicians have blamed violence on video games for decades. Their rhetoric quickly ramped up in the 1990s, after games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom popularized the genre of violent first-person shooting games. Since then, video games have been blamed for shootings at Columbine High School in 1999 and at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in 2018, and many others in between. Researchers have extensively studied whether there is a causal link between video games and violent behavior, and while there isn’t quite a consensus, there is broad agreement that no such link exists. According to a policy statement from the media psychology division of the American Psychological Association, “Scant evidence has emerged that makes any causal or correlational connection between playing violent video games and actually committing violent activities.” (Draper, 8/5)
Debunking The Video Games Cause Gun Violence Myth
Andrew Przybylski is a professor of psychology at the University of Oxford and is the Director of Research for the Oxford Internet Institute. He and Dr. Netta Weinstein looked into whether violent video games were associated with aggressive behavior in adolescents. “We found a whole lot of nothing,” Przybylski said. “Basically, we found that having information about the kinds of video games people played, how violent they were, how much time they spent on them, there was no linear connection.” (Bandlamudi, 8/5)
The Washington Post:
Are Video Games Or Mental Illness Causing America’s Mass Shootings? No, Research Shows.
Some mass shooters have a history of schizophrenia or psychosis, but many do not. Most studies of mass shooters have found that only a small fraction have mental health issues. And researchers have noted a host of other factors that are stronger predictors of someone becoming a mass shooter: a strong sense of resentment, desire for infamy, copycat study of other shooters, past domestic violence, narcissism and access to firearms. “It’s tempting to try to find one simple solution and point the finger at that,” said Jeffrey Swanson, a professor in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. “The fact that somebody would go out and massacre a bunch of strangers, that’s not the act of a healthy mind, but that doesn’t mean they have a mental illness.” (Wan and Bever, 8/5)
The Wall Street Journal:
Isolation And Social Media Combine To Radicalize Violent Offenders
Recent mass-violence incidents in America share common threads: disaffected individuals who feel powerless, radical ideas that blame particular groups and the use of social-media platforms that bring these factors together and amplify them. Radicalization, researchers have found, is driven by a need to matter and be respected. Violence is often a means to that end, especially when it is in the name of a cause, like fighting against immigrants who are viewed as invaders upsetting white people’s dominance in the U.S. Social media is increasingly playing a role in that process, especially among lone actors like the ones responsible for the recent mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. (Hernandez and Olson, 8/5)
The New York Times:
What Drives People To Mass Shootings?
On Monday morning, President Trump made his first televised statement about the mass murders committed over the weekend in El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio. He called for action to “stop mass killings before they start,” citing what he said were a number contributing factors: the contagious nature of mass murder; the glorification of violence in video games; and the need to act on “red flags” to identify and potentially confine the “mentally ill monsters” that he said commit the crimes. Many of these factors have been studied by scientists for decades. Here are answers to some of the most common questions about the causes of mass murder. (Carey, 8/5)
How Do You Solve A Problem Like 8chan?
President Donald Trump’s vow Monday to scour “the dark recesses of the internet” came as this weekend’s deadly gun violence provoked ire over fringe online platforms like 8chan, an anonymous message board that has hosted a racist manifesto linked to Saturday’s deadly shooting in El Paso, Texas. But any effort to curb dangerous extremism online will run into a host of obstacles: The Constitution and U.S. laws protect hateful speech, and obscure sites like 8chan are relatively immune to the kinds of political pressure that Washington is increasingly bringing to bear against mainstream platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google. (Scola, Lima and Levine, 8/5)
Gun Violence Causes More Deaths In U.S. Than In Many Other Countries
The United States has the 28th-highest rate of deaths from gun violence in the world: 4.43 deaths per 100,000 people in 2017 — far greater than what is seen in other wealthy countries. On a state-by-state calculation, the rates can be even higher. In the District of Columbia, the rate is 16.34 per 100,000 — the highest in the United States. In Louisiana, the rate is 10.68 per 100,000. In Texas and Ohio — the scene of two mass shootings at the beginning of August — the rates are close to the national average: 4.74 per 100,000 in Texas and 4.60 in Ohio. (Aizenman and Silver, 8/5)
‘We Are Not Violent': Those Struggling With Mental Illness Fight Stigma, Blame
People with mental illnesses are 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crimes, and only 3% to 5% of violent crimes can be linked to mental illnesses, according to national statistics. “It hits more,” said McClain Baxley, senior at Georgia Southern University, since being diagnosed with anxiety disorder, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The diagnosis is fresh on Baxley’s mind, but the pointed rhetoric surrounding this weekend’s mass shootings is fresher. (Jackson, 8/5)
Trump Made It Easier For The Mentally Ill To Get Guns When He Rolled Back Obama Regulation
President Donald Trump responded to the El Paso and Dayton mass shootings by insisting Monday that “mental illness pulls the trigger not the gun,” but shortly after taking office he quietly rolled back an Obama-era regulation that would have made it harder for people with mental illness to buy guns. Trump did so without any fanfare. In fact, the news that Trump had signed the bill was at the bottom of a White House email that alerted the media to other legislation signed by the president. And it came after the House and Senate, both of which were Republican-controlled at the time, passed a bill, H.J. Res 40, which revoked the Obama-era regulation. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Sam Johnson, a Texas Republican who retired at the end of 2018. (Siemaszko, 8/5)