APA Denounces NRA's 'Offensive' Comments

Pam Harrison

December 24, 2012

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has denounced the offensive comments made by the National Rifle Association (NRA), which recently blamed shootings such as the one that took place at the Sandy Hook Elementary School on people with mental illness, according to an APA news release.

Specifically, the APA objects to comments made by Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the NRA, that horrendous crimes such as the one committed by shooter Adam Lanza at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, are commonly perpetrated by persons with mental illness.

"About one quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them [4% to 5%] will ever commit violent crimes," Dilip Jeste, MD, president of the APA, said in the release.

Furthermore, LaPierre also conflated mental illness with evil at several junctures during his talk to the press and suggested that those who commit heinous gun crimes are "so possessed by voices and driven by demons that no sane person can ever possibly comprehend them."

"The idea that mental illness and evil are one and the same thing is simply a relic of the past and has no place in our public dialogue," James Scully, MD, CEO of the APA, added in the release.

"People who are clearly not mentally ill commit violent crimes every day.

"Unfortunately, Mr. LaPierre's statements serve only to increase the stigma around mental illness and further the misconception that those with mental disorders are likely to be dangerous."

APA president Dr. Jeste agreed, adding that LaPierre's use of the word "lunatic" as a catch phrase for those who commit violent crimes "is not only offensive, it further contributes to the idea that violent crimes are necessarily committed by people with mental disorders."