Elite universities boost profs who call for gun control, dismiss mental health crisis

  • In the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, Stanford, UPenn, and Harvard released interviews with professors with supposed authority to speak on the issue of gun violence.
  • All three professors dismissed the importance of addressing the mental health of Americans, claiming that because America does not have disproportionate reports of mental health issues, mental health is not a relevant conversation.
  • One professor said people have no way of knowing if mass shooters are mentally disturbed because they often do not survive. Another called non-gun control solutions not “cost-effective.”

Several elite universities released Tuesday interviews with professors on the topic of gun violence in the wake of recent mass shootings in Gilroy, Calif., El Paso, Tex., and Dayton, Ohio. Each professor who was interviewed denied the possibility of mental health being a key factor in the desire to commit mass murder. 

[RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: UC-Berkeley gun violence panelist has 'no background' on topic, instead will focus on 'activism']

"Allows troubled young men to marinate in a brew of toxic messages that guns will make them powerful"   

In an interview posted by Stanford University, Stanford Law professor John Donohue claimed there are mainly “two unique features” in America that cause gun violence.  

The first, he says, is “a gun culture fed by gun industry advertising.” While, on one hand, Donohue asserts that this culture “allows troubled young men to marinate in a brew of toxic messages that guns will make them powerful and help address their perceived problems,” he dismisses the relevance of mental health to the issue.  

“There is no reason to think that mental disturbances are more prevalent in the U.S. than in other affluent countries,” he claims, before going on to describe the “toxic” culture in which young men are supposedly steeped.

The second factor to which Donohue points is “the availability of the high-powered weaponry that enables [young men] to kill large numbers of individuals very quickly,” adding that “efforts to demonize immigrants for political gain are almost certainly adding to the toxic brew.”

As such, Donohue took an authoritative stand against the “promiscuous and unregulated possession of firearms,” which he claims “leads to many socially harmful consequences.”

Harvard University featured a similar interview showcasing the opinion of its health policy professor David Hemenway, who, when questioned about mental health, did concede that “there are a whole range of things that could play a role in prevention,” citing factors like parenting, education, racism, and job opportunities.

[RELATED: Popular academic org continues to call for gun control]

Solutions centered around these factors, however, are not as “cost-effective” as those that “involve doing something about guns,” according to Hemenway.

“There’s no evidence that I know of that shows that people in the U.S. have more mental health issues, especially violent mental health issues,” he said, when asked if mental health could be a contributing factor, before quickly pivoting to American gun laws, which he called “the elephant in the room.” 

Hemenway stated that America having “many more gun-related problems” than other high-income nations is a direct result of guns and America’s “weak gun laws.”

“Every other developed country has shown us the way to vastly reduce our problems. Our guns, and our permissive gun laws, are what make us different than France, Italy, the Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand, you name it,” the professor claimed.

The University of Pennsylvania boosted the voice of its criminology and statistics professor Richard Berk, who claimed in an interview published on the school's official website that since “many shooters don’t survive the shooting incident, and there is often little earlier information about their mental health” people cannot know for sure whether the majority of mass shootings were primarily caused by it.

Berk points out that “the vast majority of people in need of mental health services pose no threat of violence” and asserts that this means people have “no evidence one way or the other that mental illness is at the heart of most mass shootings.”

The professor suggested a ban on firearm possession by those guilty of intimate partner violence, as well as bans of high-capacity magazines and assault rifles as possible measures to stop mass shootings.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @celinedryan



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Celine Ryan
Celine Ryan | Correspondent Editor

Celine Ryan is the Correspondent Editor reporting on liberal bias and abuse on campus for Campus Reform. Celine was previously the investigative reporter, New Hampshire Senior Campus Correspondent, and California Senior Campus Correspondent for Campus Reform.

20 Articles by Celine Ryan