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Former FBI profiler contradicts Trump on role of mental health in mass shootings

Ex-fed: Trump "incorrect" on gun violence
Former FBI profiler contradicts Trump on role of mental health in mass shootings 00:59

Former FBI profiler Mary Ellen O'Toole contradicted President Trump's assertion that mental health is a major factor in mass shootings. "Mental health is not the problem," she told CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. O'Toole,  now the program director for the Forensic Science Department at George Mason University, spoke with Garrett on this week's episode of "The Takeout" podcast.

After two mass shooting incidents last weekend, one in El Paso and another in Dayton, Mr. Trump pointed to mental health as one of the defining factors in mass shootings.

"Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger. Not the gun," he said.

With that in mind, the president called for increased focus on "mentally disturbed individuals," saying, "We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure that those people not only get treatment, but when necessary, involuntary confinement," Mr. Trump said.

Listen to this episode on Stitcher

But O'Toole says that most people who have mental health issues are nonviolent, and further, that mass shootings require the planning and foresight. Perpetrators, she said, "have to think with a certain degree of clarity."

"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 said. She added that fewer than 25% of these gunmen are clinically diagnosed with mental health issues.

"People have to be able to pull apart the words 'mental health' and realize that even if someone does have an issue, if they can think and they understand the consequences of their action and they can think with clarity, they can carry off one of these crimes," O'Toole said. "These crimes cannot be attributed to mental health as the reason, because again, people who do genuinely suffer from mental health are not responsible for these shootings."

O'Toole also contradicted Mr. Trump's argument suggesting violent video games  play a role in real-life gun violence.

"That's completely incorrect," she said. "The president has absolutely no expertise and background to understand how this kind of violence begins and how it evolves."

For more of Major's conversation with Mary Ellen O'Toole, download "The Takeout" podcast on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, or Spotify. New episodes are available every Friday morning. Also, you can watch "The Takeout" on CBSN Friday at 5pm, 9pm, and 12am ET and Saturday at 1pm, 9pm, and 12am ET. For a full archive of "The Takeout" episodes, visit And you can listen to "The Takeout" on select CBS News Radio affiliates (check your local listings).

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