The NY Times is now fretting that focusing on the link between mental health and gun violence may not be "fair". What is striking is that when the Times opines on "gun violence" and the need for policies including an assault weapons ban and a limit on magazine capacity, they cite 30,000 gun deaths a year; that figure is based on roughly 19,000 firearm suicides and 11,000 firearm homicides.
Yet now, where the topic is mental illness and access to guns, the emphasis is exclusively on homicides; in fact, the word "suicide" does not appear in their article.
Yes, it is a puzzling use of statistics - the link between magazine capacity and suicide is tenuous at best, but one might imagine that the links between mental illness, suicide and access to guns are much stronger.
But its TimesWorld, so there may be a subtle agenda at play, and maybe "gun violence" is not their real concern.
Here we go:
Focus on Mental Health Laws to Curb Violence Is Unfair, Some Say
In their fervor to take action against gun violence after the shooting in Newtown, Conn., a growing number of state and national politicians are promoting a focus on mental illness as a way to help prevent further killings.
Legislation to revise existing mental health laws is under consideration in at least a half-dozen states, including Colorado, Oregon and Ohio. A New York bill requiring mental health practitioners to warn the authorities about potentially dangerous patients was signed into law on Jan. 15. In Washington, President Obama has ordered “a national dialogue” on mental health, and a variety of bills addressing mental health issues are percolating on Capitol Hill.
But critics say that this focus unfairly singles out people with serious mental illness, who studies indicate are involved in only about 4 percent of violent crimes and are 11 or more times as likely than the general population to be the victims of violent crime.
Well, the link between violence and mental illness is not all in your head, as we learn much later in the story:
Most mental health experts agree that the link between mental illness and violence is not imaginary. Studies suggest that people with an untreated severe mental illness are more likely to be violent, especially when drug or alcohol abuse is involved. And many rampage killers have some type of serious mental disorder: James E. Holmes, accused of opening fire in a movie theater in Colorado in July, was seeing a psychiatrist who became alarmed about his behavior; Jared L. Loughner, who killed 6 people and injured 13 others in Arizona, including former Representative Gabrielle Giffords, was severely mentally ill.
But such killings account for only a tiny fraction of gun homicides in the United States, mental health experts point out. Besides the research indicating that little violent crime can be linked to perpetrators who are mentally ill, studies show that those crimes are far more likely to involve battery — punching another person, for example — than weapons, which account for only 2 percent of violent crimes committed by the mentally ill.
Hmm - "such killings account for only a tiny fraction of gun homicides in the United States". That could be a comment about killings by rifle versus killings by handgun (6,220 by handgun, 323 by rifle, and another 1,587 by "type not stated" in 2011 per the FBI UCR), so why the urgency on banning assault rifles?