Blaming Gun Violence On Mental Illness Is 'Scapegoating,' Says Middlebury Professor
Speaking in New Hampshire earlier this month, at his first rally after deadly mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, President Donald Trump pointed to mental illness as the source of the violence.
"It's a classic example of scapegoating — taking a really complex multifactorial problem and targeting a particular group of individuals as being the ones most likely to do that," he said.
Kimble said that only about 3% of violent crimes in the U.S. can be attributable to people with serious mental illness. He also pushed back on the idea that the act of committing a mass shooting in and of itself proves that a perpetrator is mentally ill.
"There are a lot of individuals who do horrific acts without mental illness," he said. "Often the psychological factors associated with that might be circumstances like hostility, aggression, anger, alienation, and those are factors ... that are involved with people getting involved with these types of atrocities."
Kimble added that people with mental illness are more likely to be the victim of violence than to commit violent acts against others. And with gun violence in particular, he said, individuals with mental illness are much more likely to use guns on themselves as opposed to others.