Expert says mental illness should not be the key blame for mass shootings

LELAND, NC (WWAY) — President Trump visited El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio Wednesday after two mass shootings rocked the communities there and around the nation.

The visit comes with friction and a renewed fractured debate over gun violence and resolving the issue. On Monday, President Trump blamed the attacks on ‘hatred’ and ‘mental illness’.

“We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals,” said the President.

The President took to social media discussing how mental health and mental illness can play a role in background check legislation. He maintained a stand on gun violence that national media outlets report echoes many in the GOP.

“Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger. Not the gun,” said the President.

So is mental illness the key issue to address when it comes to deterring gun violence?

“Mental illness was not the cause of these problems, other variables were the cause,” said UNCW professor of psychology Antonio Puente PH.D.

Dr. Puente serves on the advocacy board for the American Psychological Association where he also served as President in 2017. The association has come out challenging the President’s stance.

“Blaming mental illness for the gun violence in our country is simplistic and inaccurate and goes against the scientific evidence currently available,” said association officials in a Monday statement.

Dr. Puente does agree there is a broader issue with these mass shootings.

“Gun violence is a public health problem,” said Puente.

Puente says the association has taken the stance that mass shootings and gun violence have to be addressed in broader terms and that limiting access to things like ‘assault weapons and high-capacity magazines’ should be debated.

“Simply attributing this onto mental health problems is just so incorrect and if indeed you are going to go down that road, why are we cutting costs of mental health programs,” asked Puente.

The Association as a whole have asked for national leaders to push more funding to the CDC and the National Institutes of Health for researching the factors that contribute to gun violence.

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