Alonzo Weston

Whenever there’s a mass shooting like we had in two cities recently, the first thing out of most peoples’ mouths is that mental illness is the cause.

From covering mental health for a number of years for the News-Press NOW, I learned that most mentally ill people aren’t violent. In fact, they more often than not have violent acts done to them, according to experts.

Studies have shown that about 20 to 25 percent of mass shooters suffered from some type of mental illness as defined by psychosis having hallucinations or delusions.

“About 1 in 5 are likely psychotic or delusional,” said Dr. Michael Stone, a forensic psychiatrist at Columbia University as quoted in a Psychology Today online article. “The rest of these murderers do not have any severe, diagnosable disorder.”

Stone said Omar Mateen, who committed the mass murders at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, and Stephen Paddock, the Las Vegas shooter, had no apparent history of mental illness before their heinous acts.

“The majority of the killers were disgruntled workers or jilted lovers who were acting on a deep sense of injustice and not mentally ill,” Stone said.

J. Reid Meloy, a forensic psychologist and FBI consultant, identified a “paranoid spectrum.”

“At the extreme end is full-on psychosis, but the majority of people on this spectrum are not deeply ill,” Meloy said. “They are injustice collectors prone to perceive insults and failures as cumulative and often blame them on one person or one group.”

Dr. James Knoll and George Annas, authors of “Mass shootings and Mental Illness,” said that laws focusing on screening out gun ownership for the mentally ill will not solve the problem of mass shootings.

“Perpetrators of mass shootings are unlikely to have a history of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization,” they wrote.

In studies that compare the United States with other similar countries in terms of mass shootings, the only major difference was not mental health but the number of guns in the hands of the public. We have similar levels of crime to other countries, the difference is that during a crime Americans are more likely to be killed.

So if it’s not mental illness and it’s not video games, then it might more access to guns that’s responsible.

I don’t think taking away everyone’s guns is the answer. Besides that, it would be an impossible task

My brother, Alex, recently asked the question “Why don’t mass shooters do this in neighborhoods where people are shooting?’

I believe some people are just evil and malicious for evil’s sake. Some people just do things because they know it’s bad and get pleasure out of it. I have no scientific backing on this theory, but I knew two kids growing up who illustrated this point.

One kid found great joy in catching the ducks at Krug Park on a fishing rod and reel. To him, it was fun.

Another kid was caught stealing money in broad daylight out of the wishing fountains they used to have at East Hills Shopping Center. He did this while in a Boy Scout uniform.

Neither exhibited any shame, embarrassment or sense of wrongdoing, They didn’t grow up to become mass murders, but both spent much of their lives in detention centers and prison.

I have no answers to solve mass shootings except to always be vigilant. Vigilant, not fearful.

Alonzo Weston can be reached


Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWeston.