Expert: Social contagion, not mental illness, fuels gun violence

Expert: Social contagion, not mental illness, fuels gun violence

PanARMENIAN.Net - Mental illness is often unfairly scapegoated following mass shootings in America. But experts say those living with mental illness are rarely violent, and social contagion is the biggest risk factor for gun violence, healthline reveals.

After the recent pair of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, the collective attention of America’s ire has once again landed squarely on the topic of gun control.

In a predictable turn, gun-rights advocates have speculated that the real cause for these shootings is mental illness and violent video games and movies. Meanwhile, gun-control advocates are pushing for expansive background checks and bans on the sale of certain guns or accessories.

But as the discussion heats up, the American Psychological Association (APA) issued a declaration that mental illness should not be in the spotlight after incidents like these.

They say scapegoating mental health issues overlooks research and ignores decades of investigation that points to other causes.

“Blaming mental illness for the gun violence in our country is simplistic and inaccurate and goes against the scientific evidence currently available,” wrote Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, CEO of the American Psychological Association, in the APA statement.

He continued, “The United States is a global outlier when it comes to horrific headlines like the ones that consumed us all weekend. Although the United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world’s population, we are home to 31 percent of all mass shooters globally, according to a CNN analysis. This difference is not explained by the rate of mental illness in the U.S.”

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