The president and members of Congress have pointed to mental illness and video games as causing our high numbers of mass shootings. The available research results show that neither of these are causes.

The president of the American Psychological Association responds that people with mental illness generally do not commit violence. From its statement on the shootings: “Routinely blaming mass shootings on mental illness is unfounded and stigmatizing. Research has shown that only a very small percentage of violent acts are committed by people who are diagnosed with, or in treatment for, mental illness. The rates of mental illness are roughly the same around the world, yet other countries are not experiencing these traumatic events as often as we face them. One critical factor is access to, and the lethality of, the weapons that are being used in these crimes. Adding racism, intolerance and bigotry to the mix is a recipe for disaster.”

Vox.com reports the visual evidence showing no relationship between video games and violent gun deaths. “There is plenty of research debunking video games as the cause. But since [House Minority Leader Kevin] McCarthy and other Republicans continue to blame video games, here’s a simple chart showing the top video game–consuming countries and the number of violent gun deaths in each of them,” it reports.

The outlier on the chart is the United States. China and South Korea both consume more video games than does the U. S., but their rates of shootings are minuscule relative to those in the U. S. - which are almost off scale.

The first step to solving the problem of gun violence in America is to stop spreading old myths. Claiming that video games and/or mental illness are causal is embracing a smoke screen in order to conceal the true cause of El Paso and Dayton.

Bill Maki, Green Valley

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