Mass shootings spark conversations about mental illness, gun control

Posted at 8:13 AM, Jun 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-18 08:13:29-04

On Thursday, leaders in the local medical field tackled the complex issue of mental health and gun violence head on.

Dr. Jeffrey Grace, Clinical Director at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, was one of two panelists who offered their expertise on the topic of mental illness. Dr. Grace says he wants to focus on the reality of the psychological makeup of the person behind the tragedy -- that despite popular belief the mentally ill do not commit a majority of dangerous crimes.

”We're saying that all violence domestic violence, gun violence suicide all of it wrapped up together is only 4 percent of people with mental illness present in that fashion,” Dr. Grace told 7 Eyewitness News.

In fact, Dr. Grace emphasized the mentally ill are at greater risk from a lack of treatment and funding than they are harming the general public. But it is still important to acknowledge mental illness is real and it is a conversation that needs to happen.

On the other side of the conversation are the gun dealers. Mike Deasy owner of the Niagara Gun Range says there are precautions taken to ensure guns are in the right hands.

”Background checks must be done on every firearm purchase," Deasy said.

A federal background check that does ask about the perspective owners mental health status and background.

Deasy acknowledges that it is impossible to predict how a person will use a gun but that the conversation about mental illness and firearms is a slippery slope that should by no means be painted with a broad brush.