Washington Post glibly dismisses mental illness as cause of mass shootings

It seems to me that any rational person would intuit a connection between mental illness and mass killings. However, the anti-gun left wants to deny the connection so that all blame can be placed on guns and white supremacy ideology.

The Washington Post follows this agenda-driven line in an article called (in the paper edition) “Studies: Mental illness isn’t to blame.” The article is rubbish.

Post reporters William Wan and Lindsey Bever point to a study that found that 25 percent of “shooters” had been diagnosed with a mental illness. But this leaves open the question of how many had never been diagnosed (or had been misdiagnosed).

The Post briefly acknowledges that a study by “the conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation” found that a majority of mass shooters have mental illness. However, it seems to dismiss this study (and certainly dismisses it via the story’s headline) by saying that it was “based in part on looser definitions and retroactive assessments.”

But any meaningful study has to be based on retroactive assessments. As noted, some shooters won’t have been assessed (or reliably assessed) before the fact.

Suppose a shooter hasn’t been diagnosed with a mental illness, but after the fact police find writings that strongly point to psychosis. Is it proper to conclude, for purposes of a study, that this person is not mentally ill? Of course not.

Based on the studies it thinks favor its narrative, the Post ridicules the public, 57 percent of which believes that mass shootings are a reflection of failures to identify and treat people with mental health problems. But the main finding relied on by the Post — that 25 percent of shooters had been diagnosed as mentally ill — isn’t inconsistent with what the public believes. The public is saying that we aren’t identifying, in other words diagnosing, potential shooters who are mentally ill.

Wan and Bever are so desperate to dismiss mental illness as a significant factor in mass shootings that they cite a forensic psychiatrist who says people kill for all sorts of reasons, including “profit or love or greed.”

Of course. But how many mass murderers kill for profit, love, or greed? There is no profit or material gain in mass murder, and surely very few mass murderers kill for love.

The Post’s final point is that mental illness is a global problem, whereas frequent mass shootings are a U.S. phenomenon. But the Post points to no study supporting this claim.

By contrast, John has cited a study that finds the U.S. 56th in the world (out of 86 countries analyzed) in mass shootings. According to this study, Norway, Finland, and Switzerland all have significantly higher rates of murder from mass public shootings than the United States.

Does this study accurately compare the frequency of mass shootings around the world? I don’t know. I do know that the Post is showing a huge bias in its selection of studies on which to rely, and then reaching conclusions from its favored studies that the studies don’t truly support.

That’s why the article by Wan and Bever is rubbish.

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