Fox News “Medical A-Team” member Dr. Keith Ablow baselessly speculated about the mental health of the Columbia Mall shooter, ignoring proof that access to firearms, not mental health conditions, is the most significant factor in most gun violence.
On January 25, Darion Marcus Aguilar shot and killed two people before committing suicide at a mall in Columbia, Maryland. Two days later, Dr. Keith Ablow appeared Fox's America's News HQ to discuss the shooter's possible motive. Ablow dismissed the ready availability of guns, instead surmising that the shooter showed signs of “serious mental health care problems”:
ABLOW: The anti-gun people are going to say, 'oh, it's the gun, it's the gun, it's the gun.' It isn't the gun. We have a crisis in terms of mental health care where I promise you that there were signs that this individual too was experiencing serious mental health care problems.
Despite Ablow's “promise” that Aguilar showed signs of mental health issues, as of yet there is no proof that he had a mental health condition. According to The Washington Post, Aguilar “had no contact with Maryland's mental health system that authorities have found, law enforcement officials said.” CNN also reported that his journal, though it “expressed 'general unhappiness with his life,'” contained “nothing to indicate he was depressed.”
Ablow's focus on Aguilar's mental health ignores the fact that firearm availability, not mental health conditions, is the most significant factor in much of gun violence. A recent report by the Consortium for Risk-Based Firearm Policy debunks claims of a “direct causal connection between mental illness and violence” and shows that the notion that gun violence can be prevented by the institutionalization of people with mental health conditions is illogical:
Many recent gun violence prevention policy discussions have assumed a direct causal connection between mental illness and violence. The research evidence suggests that violence has many interacting causes, and that mental illness alone very rarely causes violence. As a result, strategies that aim to prevent gun violence by focusing solely on restricting access to guns by those diagnosed with a mental illness are unlikely to significantly reduce overall rates of gun violence in the US.
The report also notes that only about four percent of violence in the United States “is attributable to mental illness.”