How we can solve our mass shooting problem by focusing on mental illness

We can’t!  It’s a complete and utter canard either completely intellectually dishonest or completely ignorant.  Nice PBS story on this from Nsikan Akpan:

In 2017 and 2018, Americans lived through more than 50 mass attacks in public places, defined by the U.S. Secret Service as incidents in which at least three people were harmed. When the agency examined the circumstances behind the incidents, it found almost the same thing for both years: about two-thirds of the perpetrators had mental health symptoms prior to their attacks.

But here is another fact. Approximately 96 percent of violent crimes — including shootings — would likely still occur even if every suspect with a mental health condition was stopped before they carried out an attack.

Both findings can be true because while perpetrators of gun violence — including mass shooters — do show signs of psychiatric distress, the overwhelming majority of mental health patients will never commit a violent act in their lifetimes.

Four mental health experts who spoke with the PBS NewsHour described President Donald Trump’s conflation on Monday that “mental illness and hatred pull the trigger, not the gun” as “completely false” and “irresponsible.”…

Metzl said we should start by banishing the idea that gun violence can be predicted by a psychological profile. It can’t.

Psychological profiles, by definition, are composed after violent actors have committed their crimes. In the realm of forensic psychology, such profiles are conclusions — not predictions of what might trigger the next one.

That’s because the risk factors connected to mass attacks are too non-specific. Metzl said even the characteristics most suited to building a mass shooter profile — “white male, angry, slightly paranoid, disaffected, isolated” — would match hundreds of thousands of people, the bulk of which will never go on to shoot others. It would be like looking for a sharp knife in a mountain of dull knives…

“If we cured mental illness … tomorrow, which would be wonderful, our violence problem would go down by about 4 percent and the rest of it would still be with us,” Swanson said. These trends have been replicated over and over again since 1990 — in the U.S.DenmarkFinland and Australia.

Despite the body of evidence, politicians and news organizations continue to spread misinformation about the connection between mental health and violence.

But here’s one thing you can count on… Republican politicians will keep on telling us it’s mental health, video games, whatever.  Anything but the guns.

You can’t accurately cover Trump and follow traditional journalistic norms

As always, Brian Beutler is great on the media and Trump.  Very good stuff here:

What did Beto O’Rourke mean this week when he asked reporters covering the white terrorist massacre in El Paso, TX, “members of the press, what the fuck?”

With those seven words, or maybe just the last three, O’Rourke captured widespread frustration with a political media that often refuses to see President Trump for what he is, and the political media spent the next 24 hours deepening that frustration. [emphases mine] 

Trump had just incited a racist mass murder in Texas, but after he read haltingly from a teleprompter, we were told, “He really did set a different tone than he did in the past when it comes to condemning this hate.” The New York Times processed the day’s developments with an astonishing but provisional A1 headline that blared “TRUMP URGES UNITY VS RACISM” before backtracking to a less insulting, but still upside-down version, “ASSAILING HATE, NOT GUNS.”

This familiar, through-the-eyes-of-babes routine explains why O’Rourke’s comments went viral. But in full context, O’Rourke didn’t just call on journalists to stop letting Trump’s speechwriters dictate their headlines and analysis. He asked them to meet a larger challenge…

And this is why O’Rourke’s challenge, connect the dots, won’t just be hard for many political journalists to meet—it helps explain why they adopt the naive pose in the first place. Trump isn’t just rotten in this one realm, but in all that he does, and connecting the dots would require journalists inclined to cover campaigns and “normal” partisan combat to look aghast at a sinister pattern of behavior, and alert the country to it…

You can’t connect the dots here if you’re unable to grapple with the possibility that Trump orchestrated a far-reaching criminal coverup. Or that he’s intentionally encouraged others to to break the law or abuse their powers to help him win election and re-election. The dots encircle the hatred he’s incited, the violence he’s condoned, the impunity he seeks for supporters, the retaliatory measures he takes against his enemies, this attempts to coerce big media companies and tech platforms like CNN, the Washington Post, and Google to toe a party line, and cluster most heavily around his relationship with Russia. Why does Trump continue to deny that the Russian government committed crimes to help his campaign and that its attacks on our elections continue? Why did he want to place a crony who espouses those same lies in charge of the intelligence community? 

The answers to these questions are no more reassuring or elusive than the answer to the question that bedevils the political establishment most of all: Why does Trump constantly stoke hatred of immigrants and Muslims and minorities? They are all easy to answer if you can acknowledge that Trump is engaged in a fundamentally malevolent project. The inability to do that, and the attendant unwillingness to connect the dots around it, has given rise to a media failure that in some ways exceeds the 2002 and 2003 coverage of the build up to war in Iraq.

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