One of the many arguments made by the right is that gun violence is primarily a mental illness issue. When argued back, many left-wing politicians and voters have said that it is actually a white supremacy issue. The common response from those on the right is that white supremacy is a mental illness.
There is immediately a flaw with this argument. For starters, there is little to no connection of mental illness to violence; according to the American Federation of Teachers, less than five percent of violence can be attributed to mental illness.
According to Megan L. Ranney and Jessica Gold of Time Magazine, “There is no factual link between mental illness and violence against others. In fact, people with mental health disorders are more likely to be victims of a violent crime.”
Something else important to note is that a vast majority of those with mental illness do not commit violent crimes. According to Business Insider, about 15 percent of people with schizophrenia have committed violent crimes, as compared to four percent of a group of people without schizophrenia.
The mental illness argument is used to perpetuate the idea that people with mental illnesses are dangerous, furthering negative stereotypes and increasing the stigma behind mental illness.
Some individuals making this argument state that this means we need to help those with mental illnesses. While this is true, it is just masking the actual effect of using this argument. The effect in practice makes the conversation of mental illness more uncomfortable and more stigmatized because those with mental illness may feel as though people will view them as dangerous and violent.
The next failure in logic this argument has is its connection to white supremacy. In response to the argument that the root of gun violence in America is the spread of white supremacy, some people on the right have argued that white supremacy is a mental illness.
This argument fails immediately when dissected any further. White supremacy is a choice made by individuals. While some participants may have mental illnesses, all individuals in the party are willingly deciding to be a white supremacist. Somebody with a mental illness lacks this choice and this is extremely important to note.
Not only does this argument invalidate the growing danger of racism in America, but it also frames those with mental illnesses as not only dangerous and violent, but also racist because of a condition they did not choose to have. Racism and white supremacy are a choice, mental illness is not, and this distinction is extremely important to make clear.
The argument that gun violence is a mental health issue is not only flawed but also dangerous. It is masked under the guise that it is to help those with mental illness, when in reality all it does is further stigma and worsen stereotypes, making it harder for those with mental illness to reach out and receive help they may need.