Washington, August 28 – The shooting of two journalists on live television renewed conversations on two hot button topics – gun control and mental illness.
Republican frontrunner Donald Trump has come on the record against tightening gun laws, saying he is “a very strong Second Amendment person,” and instead doubled down on the need to institutionalized people who are mentally ill.
“This isn’t a gun problem; this is a mental problem,” Trump told CNN’s Chris Cuomo on “New Day.” “It’s not a question of the laws; it’s really the people.”
Trump said the gunman should have been “institutionalized” and that mental illness is “a massive problem” in America.
“In the old days they had mental institutions for people like this because he was really, definitely borderline and definitely would have been and should have been institutionalized,” Trump told Cuomo. “At some point somebody should have seen that, I mean the people close to him should have seen it.”
While there are documented cases of people who are mentally ill committing violent crimes – and these are often played out in the media for a lengthy period of time – research shows that violent acts committed by people who are mentally ill are a small percentage of all violent acts.
In reviewing the research on violence and mental illness, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small,” and further, “the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population.” Other risk factors have more to do with violent behavior such as past violent victimization, lack of social supports, and substance abuse.
Yet Trump has a history of stressing the need to take care of people who are mentally ill without looking at any factors.
The presidential hopeful previously made the similar comments following the Louisiana movie theater killings in July. “This has nothing to do with guns. This has to do with the mentality of these people,” Trump said. “He had the kind of record where he should be in an institution.”
In regard to stricter gun regulations, Trump insisted it should not be more difficult for “sane people” to get guns, using Chicago’s tough gun laws as an example since gun violence is still prevelant.
Additional reporting provided by Elliot Charles.