Sunday, December 23, 2012

APA Objects to Comments of NRA President

APA strongly objects to language used by Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president and CEO of the National Rifle Association (NRA), in comments he made both Friday and today conveying the NRA’s response to the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14 in Newtown, Connecticut.

In a statement to the media distributed this afternoon, APA said that 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.

APA President, Dilip Jeste, M.D., pointed out, “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. On today's ‘Meet the Press,’ Mr. LaPierre used the word ‘lunatic’ as a catchphrase 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."

APA Medical Director and CEO James H. Scully, M.D., noted that contrary to LaPierre’s remarks, “people who are clearly not mentally ill commit violent crimes and perform terrible acts every day. Unfortunately, Mr. LaPierre’s statements serve only to increase the stigma around mental illness and further the misconception that those with mental disorders are likely to be dangerous.”

To read the full statement, click here.

(Image: Shutterstock/Andrey Kuzmin)            


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.