The Importance of Mental Health Considerations in Gun Ownership

There have been many debates concerning the connection between gun ownership and mental health. In fact, many politicians have outlined on several accounts that there is a connection between mental illness and gun shootings. This perception is widespread around the public as well and numerous Americans blame the mental health system for the many unfortunate incidents associated with gun ownership.

In this debate, there are many questions that require an answer. One of them is: should a psychiatric examination be incorporated into the background check of a person before purchasing a gun? While it’s 100 percent accurate that mental health should be considered when it comes to gun ownership, the term mental illness is comprehensive, in the sense that it implies a wide range of conditions, including social anxiety. In other words, it would be safe to say that not all mental conditions feature a risk of doing harm to others.

What Do Studies Indicate?

According to a study that analyzed the way in which mental illness and gun violence are connected, the results weren’t necessarily predictable. That is to say, individuals with high hostility are much more likely to threaten someone else by using a gun – in fact, they are 3.5 times more likely to do so. In lines with the Centers for Disease Control, on a yearly basis, roughly 75,000 to 100,000 Americans suffer injuries because of firearms, while 30,000 to 40,000 die because of this.

This points out that the amount of research on the topic is rather limited and far from being comprehensive. In other words, by connecting violent behavior with mental illness struggle, the stigma around mental illness will most likely be increased. This would make it more difficult for people struggling with such conditions to ask for help.

What seems to be the common factor in the case of most mass shooting incidents is actually anger. According to a 2012 analysis, studies of people with impulsive and angry personalities are more likely to have violent outbursts, when compared to the general population. On a different note, people that have violent, compulsive behavior, usually display this behavior in relation to their coworkers and peers, having a record of anti-social conduct.

This means that gun ownership should be restricted for violent, angry individuals. However, this leads to various challenges, since people can buy guns online, at gun shows, or even from private sellers without any screening or anything of the sort. This is worrisome considering the high rates of shootings. For example, in California, the perpetrators of crimes such as assault are prohibited from acquiring guns.

Is Limiting Gun Ownership to People with Mental Issues Troublesome?

The truth is that limiting gun ownership to people suffering from mental issues is complicated. Gov. Rich Scott of Florida had outlined in the past that the state lawmakers should attempt to restrict gun ownership from the mentally ill. Although this umbrella term is quite vague, the situation is more complicated than it seems at first glance. Lawmakers have been challenged to allow police powers to detain people to evaluate their mental health on grounds of worrying social media posts or anything that would outline violent, angry behavior.

On the other hand, gun control and mental health advocates alike highlight that there are more and more states that enable law enforcement officers or even family members to petition a court, in order to take a firearm from people posing a danger. This measure is referred to as red flaw laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders. It has actually limited the rates of suicide in the state of Connecticut. This is where the law was first approved in 1999.

On a different note, although the media usually attributes mental health illness to mass shootings, the root isn’t always there, as we already pointed out above. It is true that mental health might increase the risk of suicide. In other words, the law enforcement segment in the US should aim at better understanding the way in which laws could limit or prevent shootings from taking place.

For instance, in the case of the suspect in the Florida shooting – 19-year-old Nikolas Cruz – he had been expelled from high-school. Not to mention that the majority of his former classmates avoided him as they thought that he was dangerous. As he had also lost his mother, he was also displaying signs of depression.

Federal laws forbid the purchase of guns by people that have stayed at a psychiatric hospital or people that have been found to pose danger to themselves and those around them. However, the laws vary by the state.

Some states have even attempted to make their own databases of people who were mentally unstable so that they couldn’t be allowed to carry guns. New York is known as one of the most restrictive states when it comes to gun control laws, but after placing roughly 34,500 people on that list, mental health advocates had indicated that too many people were perceived as dangerous.

Concluding Remarks

The bottom line is that gun safety is a topic that is well worthy of our attention – especially considering everything that is happening nowadays, all the mass shootings, the worrying suicide rates, and so on. This is why it is crucial to prevent guns from reaching the hands of the wrong people.

To ensure that your gun is always protected, our advice would be to invest in the best gun safe, as opposed to simply hiding it under your bed. This way, you can be 100% confident that you are the only person that will be using the gun, and it won’t be accessible to children, unstable members of the family or even burglars. Being precautious is always the best policy.

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