Why America’s Mass Shootings Can’t Be Labeled A Mental Health Issue

5 Oct

Last week’s mass shooting in Oregon only reinforced America’s desperate need for stricter gun control laws, President Obama affirmed in a speech following the event. But according to Harold Pollack, co-director of the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago, gun reform can’t be achieved until Americans stop looking at mental illness as a scapegoat for violent behavior.

“We don’t want to stereotype people with a severe mental illness,” Pollack told HuffPost Live host Caroline Modarressy-Tehrani. “Severe mental illness accounts for something like five percent of the violence we see in America, and we don’t have a particularly higher rate of severe mental illness than many other places that have much lower gun homicide rates than we do.”

Additionally, Pollack argued the practice of concealed carry permits fosters a culture that normalizes firearm possession — no matter the state of mental health. 

“What kind of norms are we really creating by having people walking around in public with dangerous weapons?” he said. “The people who have concealed carry permits are not particularly the people who are the dangerous people, but they’re contributing to an environment that is a problem.”

Watch the video above for more from the conversation and head over to HuffPost Live to see the full segment.

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