Statement of the APA President in Response to Texas Church Shootings

Calling it a ‘mental health problem’ distracts from finding real solutions to gun violence, Putente says
WASHINGTON – Following is the statement of APA President Antonio E. Puente, PhD, in response to the shootings at a Texas church that left at least 26 people dead and 20 others wounded, and President Trump’s assertion that the attack was a “mental health problem”:

“The vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent. A complex combination of risk factors, including a history of domestic violence, violent misdemeanor crimes and substance use disorders, increases the likelihood of people using a firearm against themselves or others.

“Firearm prohibitions for these high-risk groups have been shown to reduce gun violence. The suspect in this case, Devin Patrick Kelley, exhibited several of these red flags.

“Gun violence is a serious public health problem that requires attention to these risk factors, as well as more research to inform the development and implementation of empirically based prevention and threat assessment strategies. Calling this shooting a ‘mental health problem’ distracts our nation’s leaders from developing policies and legislation that would focus on preventing gun violence through a scientific, public health approach.”

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The American Psychological Association, in Washington, D.C., is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States. APA’s membership includes nearly 115,700 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and improve people’s lives.

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