By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The national debate on gun control has sparked an increased focus on those with mental illness. In fact, three of President Obama’s 23 executive orders on gun control relate to mental health.
One local expert says the connection between mental illness and violence is not as clear as one might think.
“A majority of gun crimes are committed by people who do not have mental health issues,” Dr. Mark Salzer said.
Dr. Salzer chairs the Rehabilitation Sciences department at Temple University. He says those with mental illness are easy targets for gun control, especially after tragedies like the Connecticut school shooting, but the truth is predicting who is prone to commit mass violence is virtually impossible.
“We can’t even predict general violence in people with mental health issues because it’s so rare for those folks.”
Salzer says roughly 15 to 20 million Americans have serious mental health issues and while he’s happy the gun control could mean more funding for mental health, he warns that it could also result in more discrimination against the mentally ill.
“Gun violence is actually not a mental health issue, it’s a gun issue,” he said.