Polarization is behind US mass shootings, says psychiatrist

Jul 6, 2022, 10:00 PM
hate crime death penalty...
ACWORTH, GA - MARCH 17: Lijing Zhao, owner of Jo Jo’s Massage, lays a bouquet of flowers outside a massage parlor where four people were shot and killed on March 17, 2021 in Acworth, Georgia. The suspect, who is now in custody, reportedly made reference to a "sex addiction" in conversations with investigators. (Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)
(Photo by Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY — According to NPR (National Public Radio), at least 309 mass shootings have happened so far this year in America. Dr. Hans Watson, psychiatrist, trauma expert and the founder of University Elite in Draper, Utah, joined Dave and Dujanovic to share his insight on why he says mental health disorders are not the cause of mass shootings. He added mass shooting are also not a gun issue, but rather polarization is to blame.

Watson said studies “unequivocally” conclude a mentally ill person is four times likelier to be a victim of violence than a perpetrator of violence.

If it’s not guns and not mental health, then what is behind the mass shootings?

“When you get the right person, combined with a belief that the rules that we accept as general society do not apply to them,” he said, “This is when it becomes likely that this person is going to use violence such as a mass shooting or serial killer or something like that.”

But, Watson said, 99.999% of those people who believe the rules of society do not apply to them would never become a mass shooter or serial killer.

“The idea that this can be controlled with just guns or legislation or just with better mental health, the data just does not support that,” he added.

Polarization of society leads to mass shootings, says psychiatrist

What lies at the heart of the violence is the polarization of US society, Watson said.

“I’m fearful we’re going to see more of these extreme actions from both sides of the political aisle because we’re fostering the belief that you cannot contradict me or you’re evil. You cannot make me uncomfortable or you’re evil,” he said.

It’s neither a left or right ideology that lights the fuse of violence but an unwillingness to engage in dialog, Watson said, adding mass violence won’t stop until each side accepts compromise and hearing the other side.

“It really is a war of ideas of tolerance versus not. That’s going to be the difference in whether we see continued mass shootings or not. Can I be tolerant or can I not?” Watson said. “I’m very familiar with these [shootings] because oftentimes I’m the person that’s called in to train the therapists that respond to these mass shootings.”

July 4th massacre

Robert “Bobby” E. Crimo III, 21, faces seven charges of first-degree murder in connection with the shooting in Highland Park, Ill., during a Fourth of July parade Monday.

A judge on Wednesday ordered Crimo held without bond, according to CNN.

Investigators believe Crimo planned the attack for weeks, said Chris Covelli, spokesperson for the Lake County Major Crimes Task Force.

Covelli declined to address a potential motive again, saying only that Crimo “had some type of affinity towards the number four and seven and inverse was 7/4,” the date of July Fourth.


Mental health issues or poor gun laws? What Utahns say causes mass shootings


Dave & Dujanovic can be heard weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon. on KSL NewsRadio. Users can find the show on the KSL NewsRadio website and app, as well as Apple Podcasts and Google Play.

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Polarization is behind US mass shootings, says psychiatrist