How does Donald Trump want to solve the epidemic of gun violence? By building more mental health institutions.
The president reiterated his suggestion on Thursday ahead of his first campaign rally since mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio left 31 people dead. Following the tragic events, Trump seemed open to expanding background checks on gun buyers, but he's since backed away from the topic and redirected the conversation toward mental health.
"We're going to be looking at that very closely and we're looking at the whole gun situation. I do want people to remember the words mental illness," he told the media, as reported by CNN. "These people are mentally ill and nobody talks about that, but these are mentally ill people. And people have to start thinking about it."
He continued: "I think we have to start building institutions again because you know, if you look at the '60s and the '70s, so many of these institutions were closed, and the people were just allowed to go onto the streets. And that was a terrible thing for our country.... A lot of our conversation has to do with the fact that we have to open up institutions. We can't let these people be on the streets."
A number of healthcare professionals have called these kinds of statements dangerous, as they suggest the best way to combat gun violence is by involuntarily committing people who suffer from mental illness. Mary Ellen O'Toole, a former FBI profile, has challenged Trump's proposal of building more psychiatric facilities as well as his theory that video games are partly to blame for mass shootings.
"The president has absolutely no expertise and background to understand how this kind of violence begins and how it evolves," she said during an interview with CBS News' Takeout podcast. "My experience has been, that these are individuals that, if there is a mental health issue, they still are able to function very strategically, and in a very cold-blooded and callous manner. So, mental health is not the problem."
O'Toole went on to say that the majority of people who suffer from mental illness are nonviolent, and pointed out that fewer than 25 percent of mass shooting suspects were clinically diagnosed with mental health issues.
You can read some of the reaction's to Trump's mental health institutions proposal below.