This article examines gun-related suicide and violent crime rates in people with serious mental illnesses, and whether legal restrictions on firearm sales to people with a history of mental health adjudication effectively prevent gun violence.
This study takes as a starting place the inherent tension between public safety and civil rights in considering mental illness as a significant concern for firearms policy and law. This means grappling with the full range of social benefits and costs that may accrue in casting a wide net with a broad mesh to find a few dangerous people among the many with largely non-dangerous disorders of thought, mood, and behavior.
In this Critical Opportunities presentation, Jeffrey Swanson, PhD, shares recommendations for the use of law to reduce the problem of gun violence. The recommendations are a package of policies that were originally presented at the Johns Hopkins Gun Policy Summit in January 2013.
The Problem: Firearms are the second leading cause of injury and deaths in the United States, accounting for 30,896 deaths and 71,417 injuries in 2006. More than 80 percent of teen homicides and almost half of teen suicides involved a gun in 2005. CDC: WISQUARS. More than half of all homicides involve a gun.U.S. Department of Justice: Crime Statistics.