The reaction to the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., last week was immediate and voluminous. Of the more than 600 letters sent to email@example.com on the topic, about 120 of them mentioned mental illness as a cause for the violence. A handful of writers warned against jumping to conclusions and stigmatizing those whostruggle with mental disabilities; one writer even turned questions about psychology into ones for gun advocates. Here is a selection of those letters.
In a letter published Tuesday, Michelle Uzeta, legal director of the Disability Rights Legal Center in Los Angeles, wrote:
"The tendency in our society is to label what happened, pack it in a box and tuck it away somewhere. It's our collective defense mechanism. More often than not, the conversations quickly and unfairly turn to disability. These conversations usually lack depth and understanding, and they do nothing more than promote inaccurate and unfair stereotypes.
FULL COVERAGE: Shooting at Connecticut school
"Some reports suggested that the Connecticut shooter had a form of autism. There is no more of a correlation between autism and violence than there is between playing the piano and violence."
Ron Charach, a psychiatrist and author from Toronto, wrote:
"If the back-to-back horrors of Newtown, Conn., and Portland, Ore., are to serve as a tipping point on gun proliferation in America, people must stop asking about the specific motives of the shooters. They should ask more about the motives, both conscious and unconscious, of those who want to see so many military-style weapons being made available to civilians.