Boulder, Oct. 29 – In campaign events across the country, Donald Trump has been quick to use the word “stupid” when talking about the perceived incompetence of political leaders. He has also been quick to emphasize his view that those who are mentally ill are likely to carry out violent gun acts.
At last night’s CNBC Republican primary debate, Trump said gun-free zones are “target practice for the sickos and for the mentally ill.”
Trump also said he would support lifting gun restrictions at his properties and that he has a gun permit. “I think gun-free zones are a catastrophe, they’re a feeding frenzy for sick people,” he said.
When a presidential candidate uses words like “stupid” and “sickos,” it lumps all people with a mental health difference in one category. Doing so perpetuates negative stereotypes and sows the seeds of fear, which drives people to avoid talking about mental health issues. Trump often has thrown people with mental health differences under the bus when talking about firearms.
While there are documented cases of people who are mentally ill committing violent crimes – and these often are 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.
“Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small,” according to the Institute of Medicine. “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.