BELOW IS AN EXCERPT FROM THE OFFICIAL STATEMENT OF THE APA AFTER THE NRA’S LAPIERRE APPEARED ON MEET THE PRESS.
ARLINGTON, Va. (December 23, 2012) — The American Psychiatric Association expressed disappointment today in the comments from Wayne LaPierre, Executive Vice President and Chief Executive Officer of the National Rifle Association both Friday and today conveying the NRA’s response to last week’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
The association objected to LaPierre’s assumption that horrendous crimes such as the one committed by shooter Adam Lanza are commonly perpetrated by persons with mental illness. In addition, he conflated mental illness with evil at several points in his talk 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,” a description that leads to the further stigmatization of people with mental illnesses.
The APA notes that people with mental illnesses are rarely violent and that they are far more likely to be the victims of crimes than the perpetrators. “Only four to five percent of violent crimes are committed by people with mental illness,” said the APA’s president, Dilip Jeste, M.D. “About one quarter of all Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, and only a very small percentage of them will ever commit violent crimes,” he added.
“On today’s Meet the Press, Mr. LaPierre used the word ‘lunatic’ as a catch phrase for those who commit violent crimes. Such language is not only offensive, it further contributes to the idea that violent crimes are necessarily committed by people with mental disorders.”