In the wake of the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida, the president’s Feb. 15 tweet “So many signs that the Florida shooter was mentally disturbed” in effect placed the responsibility for gun-related violence on citizens’ failure to identify disturbed individuals who are likely to commit heinous acts. This is, at best, an ignorant and myopic declaration, and, at worst, a very perilous one.

It is extraordinarily difficult for the best-trained specialists to predict behavior. To implicitly suggest that we should all be vigilant for behavior that may foreshadow violence represents a slippery slope on which a huge spectrum of developmentally appropriate and normal behavior is misread as abnormal and threatening. This smacks not only of paranoia, but also of poorly founded homespun profiling that historically has nurtured stereotyping, prejudice, racism and even genocide.

This is not to say that gross signs of craziness should be ignored or equated with diversity. Thoughtfulness, expertise, history and the current social emergency do say that we should direct our immediate efforts to curbing the unprecedented availability of sophisticated weapons.

Peter Pressman, M.D., M.S., FACN