Director of Communications
Connecting mental illness to mass shootings is inappropriate and dangerous. It exacerbates and promotes harmful, inaccurate stereotypes about people with disabilities instead of getting to the root causes of mass shootings in our country.
A recent study found that severe mental illness contributes to 3% of violent crime and less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. Another study reports people with mental illness account for a quarter of crime victims. Attributing blame for mass shootings to mental illness only increases the threat of violence people with mental illness face.
Despite significant evidence suggesting otherwise, the idea that mental illness is a leading factor in mass shootings continues to persist in media coverage, criminal investigations, everyday conversation, and political debate about gun control.
It is up to us — along with our leaders, government officials, and law enforcement to challenge this bias and to identify and address the actual proven contributors to mass shootings. It is imperative that leaders actively work with people with mental illness, community groups and professionals to avoid sweeping assumptions and poorly informed characterizations of mental illness that only further marginalize and construe people with mental health conditions as inherently dangerous. People with disabilities including those with mental illness are valuable members of our society who deserve to have equal rights and protections.