Following the most recent school shooting in Florida that resulted in 17 deaths, Trump and the NRA are resorting to their usual blather about mental illness being the problem, not guns.
The United States doesn't have more mentally ill people than other countries with vastly fewer school shootings. What distinguishes our country is the number of guns we have. With around 4% of the world's population, we have about 48% of the world's guns.
Also, most school shooters aren't really mentally ill. My wife is a retired psychotherapist. She understands mental illness. And she understands that most school shooters are angry, bitter, enraged, depressed -- but not clinically mentally ill.
UPDATE: A New York Times story, "Opening Mental Hospitals Unlikely to Prevent Mass Shootings, Experts Say," makes the same points as I do. Just better, since they cite psychiatrists who have studied mass shooters and discuss the shooters themselves, who are typically angry and depressed, as are countless other teenagers, but not mentally ill.
There's loose talk from Trump of reopening mental hospitals and forcing disturbed teenagers to be admitted. This makes no sense. It isn't easy to commit someone to a mental institution, nor should it be.
"Disturbed" isn't at all the same as "mentally ill."
By definition, anyone who goes into a school and kills people is disturbed, because this behavior isn't normal. However, taking that sort of action requires planning and forethought. A would-be school shooter who is psychotic or otherwise out of contact with reality likely won't be able to carry out his plan.
Sure, disturbed youth who appear to pose a threat to themselves or others need to get help. But a policy of committing them to a mental institution or taking their guns away probably is going to backfire.
Potential school shooters aren't insane. They know what they want to do and how to do it.
It stands to reason that they will be well aware of a policy in their community that anyone who makes threats about killing others will face serious consequences: forced mental health treatment, having guns confiscated.
Trump and the NRA seem to believe that would-be school shooters won't change their behavior in the face of those sorts of policies. This is the same sort of simplistic thinking that led to everyone being forced to take off their shoes before boarding a plane because once a terrorist tried to detonate a shoe bomb.
Um, terrorists can read. They can think. They know that measures are being taken to detect shoe bombs, so almost certainly they now will try other ways of bringing down an airplane.
Same applies to people pondering a school shooting. If they know that acting angry and making threats will bring them to the attention of authorities, many, if not most, will alter their behavior. They won't want to have their guns confiscated, so they will act as normal as possible.
Focusing on mental illness after a school shooting is just a ruse by the NRA and their supporters to deflect attention from the real cause of school gun deaths. Which is, of course, guns.
Automobile accidents are called that because, duh, it takes an automobile to have an automobile accident. Likewise, it takes a gun to have a gun death. How many people have been killed in school by a knife or explosive? To my knowledge, zero.
Easy access to guns is the reason our country has so many school shootings. Universal background checks, banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines -- these are what will save lives, not a misguided focus on mental illness.