Sunday night’s CNN Newsroom with Pamela Brown welcomed Vanderbilt University’s Dr. Jonathon Metzl, to validate CNN’s push for gun control and dismiss other claims of mental health contributing to mass shootings. Metzl easily blew down their statesman; “there is no mental illness like depression or schizophrenia or anxiety whose symptoms are harming someone else let alone shooting someone else.”
In recent cases, Dr. Metzl stated that before looking at the mental illness and outside factors that could have caused these men to act, “you would go through so many factors before that, you know, access to firearms, a past history of violence, substance abuse, guns in the network, aggravated nature, all these factors.”
All three guns were obtained legally; three out of the five factors listed above could be linked to mental health issues.
Brown even said herself, when talking about Uvalde and Buffalo that “these gunmen are clearly, um, deranged,” suggesting to the doctor that if they “had gotten the mental health treated that they needed perhaps they wouldn’t have gone on this shooting rampage.”
Metzl stated, “I wish that was the case.”
What happened in Tulsa? A crime against the doctor that had caused the shooter pain. Because of that pain, that outside factor, the shooter felt the need to inflict pain on the doctor and staff.
What happened in Uvalde? A crime against innocent children. A boy bullied growing up, clearly with mental problems and outside factors who felt the need to show his hate toward others.
What happened in Buffalo? A hate crime against people shopping for groceries on a regular day. Someone who clearly had mental problems motivating him to hurt others.
So, then is it all on the guns? Can the United States legislation, law enforcement, and leadership not do anything to prevent these shootings except to ban the weapons that aided the gunman to shoot? Metzl suggested that what we really need to be doing as a society is what President Biden suggested, “Thinking really hard about what kind of restrictions we want to put on guns.”
From the side of the spectrum that wants to see change, are they not willing to give help to those struggling? Or identify those ostracized from society and have access to guns before it’s too late?
Instead of engaging in nuance, CNN again chose to retreat to its corner.
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Click "expand" to read the full transcript.
CNN Newsroom with Pamela Brown
PAMELA BROWN: One of the first questions after a mass shooting is, “does the suspect have a history of mental illness?” But, that question could be doing more harm than good. Dr. Jonathan Metzl joins me now. He's the Director of the Department of Medicine, Health, and Society at Vanderbilt University.
Hi Professor, thanks so much for coming on and having this important conversation. As you well know better than most -- right-- after a shooting so many people are quick to blame mental health. How valid is that?
DR. JONATHON METZL, VANDERBILT UNIVERSITY: Well, let me just first say I understand why we turn to the mental illness narrative after this. It just makes emotional sense that we might think, you know, we live in this civilized world and nobody who plays by the rules of our society would do something like this and so we turn to this mental illness story to sort of make sense for us just of how – you know, just the carnage that's unimaginable and the other thing is that many people who commit these shootings, particularly the high-profile one do have psychological histories and I really think it’s important to stop the line right there because even if that's the case there is nothing causal about mental illness that causes somebody to commit a mass shooting, so there's no mental illness like depression or schizophrenia or anxiety whose symptoms are harming someone else let alone shooting someone else.
There's no diagnosis, and so, if you look at mass shootings-- I study mass shootings, and if you line up the kind of 100 most important factors that lead to a mass shooting, you would go through so many factors before that, you know, access to firearms, a past history of violence, substance abuse, guns in the network, aggrieved nature, all of these factors. So, in a way what we do when we say it's mental illness is we really cherry pick this out of one of many factors, and I think it's important to note, of course, it's important to think about this as an issue, but really the idea that we can -- you know, psychiatrists like me can pick in advance who is going to commit a shooting is just factually wrong given what mental illness is and also the tools of our trade which are our diagnosis [sic].
BROWN: So, then what do you- what would you say, and you kind of hit on this, but I want to go into it a little deeper into it about, you those who would say look at Uvalde, look at Buffalo. These gunmen are clearly, um, deranged. I mean, if they had gotten the mental health treatment that they needed perhaps they wouldn't have gone on this shooting rampage killing innocent people.
METZL: I wish – I wish that was the case, I wish there was some kind of predictive test that we could do. I think the two important factors to think about there, and I think we- it should be all hands on deck, like anything we can do as a society and certainly mental health is an important part of that.
Um, I think the two important points are, number one, for every one person who meets the profile of kind of angry, aggrieved often young man, there will be millions of people who meet that same profile who, who don’t – who don't go on to commit mass shootings, and so part of the story here is that there's nothing predictive about a mental illness diagnosis that lets a psychiatrist like me pick out the one person from the millions of other people, and so in a way it's not really effective. And the other, I think, important point is we have 45,000 gun death a year in this country. Mass shootings are horrific, they’re terrorizing, and they obviously get a lot of news. But, most gun death is homicides, suicide, partner violence, accidental shootings and even the mass shootings you were talking about on the show before I came on, were very different kinds of mass shootings in terms of how they’re born and so, what we do is we select these very few shootings, maybe 300, 400 deaths a year.
Every life lost is a tragedy, but what we're not doing is saying: What would stop the everydayness of gun violence? What would stop everyday deaths? And really those answers about having a psychiatrist predict. It's much more about what kinds of prevention strategies can we put in place that look at patterns of gun death and how to subvert them.
BROWN: So, and, again, you hit on this, too, but I want to -- I find it really interesting when you look at just the facts, the data, the research. A lot of these mass shooters tend to be young men, barely into adulthood. Biologically speaking, what makes them more prone to this kind of violence and, again, not trying to paint all young men with a broad brush, but when you do look at, for example, the most recent big ones, Uvalde and Buffalo, 18-year-old man. What do you make of that?
METZL: I think that there's a bigger story about age and firearms that we need to think about as a society. Now I totally agree with you. We don't want to overly surveil everyone, 21-18.
METZL: But I would say that there's a lot of research coming out now that looks at how – I mean- there are some studies now that show that 40% of gun death in this country and shootings happen -- you know, the shooters are between 25 and 17 usually, even though that demographic is only 17% of the population and so beyond just the mass shootings, younger people happen to be shooting – shooting a lot – alright- in a way and I guess I think about that which is on the one hand, again, you don't want to make people who are just coming into adulthood suspect and say ‘we're going to watch out for you,’ but we regulate age all the time in our society. What age can you drink, what age can you drive? If you get insurance you might be at a higher risk depending on your age because you're more likely to get into a car wreck or -- or drive fast or get in a fight, so we think about age in relation to risk all the time and I really do believe that this 18 to 21-year-old demographic in these mass shootings, but also in shootings more broadly really should make us think: Do we really want people in that age group being able to get and carry guns without any kind of restriction?
That's certainly -- I live in Tennessee -- the Tennessee legislature just lowered the age to 18 at which anybody can buy and AR-15 without any training and walk around and carry it, and so I do think really we should be doing what President Biden said which is thinking really hard about what kind of restrictions we want to put on guns but particularly people who are in this age group because they are at a higher risk, not only of shooting people but also of getting shot.
BROWN: All right. Dr. Jonathan Metzl, really interesting conversation. I think we should all listen to what you laid out there in terms of the research and what the data shows.