A heavily armed young man is accused of killing 17 people after opening fire on terrified students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., on Wednesday. It was the third mass shooting in the past four months in the United States.
Nikolas Cruz, who has been linked to a history of mental illness, is believed to have used a legally obtained AR-15 in the shooting. The attack has led to widespread conversations about links between gun violence and mental illness, and how lawmakers and interest groups are debating potential policy responses. Below is a look at some facts and falsehoods uttered by Speaker Paul D. Ryan, Republican of Wisconsin; Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont; and others in the wake of Wednesday’s shooting.
“Mental health is often a big problem underlying these tragedies.” — House Speaker Paul Ryan
There’s a link, but it’s more limited than widely thought.
Mr. Ryan’s claim reflects a common misconception. According to variouspolls, roughly half of Americans either believe that failing to identify people with mental health problems is the primary cause of gun violence or that addressing mental health issues would be a major deterrent.
That conclusion is not shared by experts or widely accepted research.