SINGAPORE: Mental health issues are not to be blamed for the proliferation of mass shootings in the United States, Home Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam said in a Facebook post on Sunday (Feb 18).
The US is "a great country that cannot protect its most innocent – young children in school", he wrote.
"It’s wrong to blame mental health. There are people with mental health issues in every country, including Singapore. America is not alone in having such people."
Mr Shanmugam was commenting days after 17 people at a Florida high school were killed in the deadliest shooting at a US high school. Alleged shooter Nikolas Cruz, 19, was armed with an assault rifle, reports said.
Leaders in Congress, as well as US President Donald Trump, have linked mental illness to this latest shooting, suggesting that it was the public's responsibility to warn officials of such dangers.
There have been eight school shootings and at least 30 mass shootings in the US within the seven weeks since the year started, he added.
The Member of Parliament for Nee Soon GRC said he has met mentally unstable people at meet-the-people sessions who were "full of anger, wanting to hit out at someone".
"If they had access to assault rifles, which can mow down dozens in a minute, I can imagine what might happen," he wrote.
While the majority of Americans want gun control, a strong lobby for those who want free access to guns have channelled money to congressmen and other influential persons, he said.
"They can block any legislation that seeks to control people from buying assault rifles," Mr Shanmugam wrote.
"It baffles me that people are freely allowed to buy submachine guns, in an urban environment."