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The difficulties and effectiveness of limiting gun ownership to the mentally ill americans

Across the population, many studies have shown that suicide risk is substantially higher in persons with mental disorders.

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And a growing body of research suggests that having guns in the home contributes to increased suicide risk above and beyond other risk factors such as substance abuse, a history of self-harm, hopelessness or depression.

While access to mental health treatment can help alleviate risk factors for suicide, so can keeping guns out of homes of people at risk of using them to harm themselves, epidemiologists say. Limited research has been conducted in the United States evaluating state gun restrictions on rates of violence and suicide.

Swanson and his colleagues noted this in the 2015 Annals of Epidemiology article, " Mental illness and reduction of gun violence and suicide: Bringing epidemiologic research to policy.

A 2011 study of the impact of state firearm regulations from 1995 to 2004 found that gun permit and licensing requirements significantly lowered suicide rates among males.

Mental Illness, Gun Control, and Crime

The findings support earlier studies of the effects of the Brady Lawwhich found that gun background checks and waiting periods significantly reduced suicide in the older population. Another frequently cited study from 1991 looked at the effects of restrictive handgun licensing in the District of Columbia from 1968 to 1987.

The study found that a handgun ban signed into law in 1976 was followed by an abrupt decline in gun suicides. No similar reductions were seen in suicides by other means, and no reductions were seen in neighboring jurisdictions that were not subject to the law.

Gun violence not a mental health issue, experts say, pointing to 'anger,' suicides

There were also no increases in suicides by other means, suggesting that people did not substitute other methods for firearms. Testing solutions on the state level State laws restricting access to guns by requiring permits to purchase firearms also show promise for reducing suicide rates.

  • The programs increase the chances of dangerous mentally ill people acquiring guns and causing violence or a change of behaviors among the excluded individuals;
  • According to the 1968 federal law Gun Control Act , individuals involuntarily committed due to mental illness are prohibited from buying guns since they are presumed dangerous and likely to create violence;
  • However, the effectiveness of the laws is limited as established earlier creating the need to develop appropriate strategies to reduce gun violence in the US.

Researchers examined suicide rates in Connecticut and Missouri, two states that recently changed their permit-to-purchase handgun laws in recent decades. Connecticut passed a law in 1995 that requires people to apply for a permit with local law enforcement and take eight hours of gun safety training before they can buy a firearm. In contrast, Missouri repealed a law in 2007 that required people to apply with the local police for permission to buy a gun.

  • Mental Illness as the Cause for Mass Shootings Over time, there has been a positive relation of the rising violence involving firearms and the issue of mental illness;
  • The missing records increase the potential for murder since the lack of records will allow gun sales to all individuals irrespective of their mental conditions;
  • The legal procedures or policies create conditions that require health practitioners to make decisions related to firearm ownership Pittman, 2016.

None of those interventions can do anything about guns already in the home. Researchers are keeping a close eye on the effect of laws in Connecticut, Indiana and California allowing the temporary seizure of guns from people who pose an immediate threat of harm, known as gun violence restraining orders or pre-emptive gun seizure laws. While such policies could help address suicides, researchers hope they will flag so-called "lone wolf terrorists" or "pseudo-commando killers" behind mass shootings who may not be prohibited from owning a gun under current laws.

  • Among the study population in two large Florida counties, we found that 62 percent of violent gun crime arrests and 28 percent of gun suicides involved individuals not legally permitted to have a gun at the time;
  • While such policies could help address suicides, researchers hope they will flag so-called "lone wolf terrorists" or "pseudo-commando killers" behind mass shootings who may not be prohibited from owning a gun under current laws;
  • It would have been informative to include data on behavioral health treatment in the community, to test whether treatment participation moderates the preventive effect of gun restrictions on violence by reducing underlying risk;
  • The findings are consistent with the current belief in the country following a series of mass shootings forcing people to believe the idea that mental illness contributes to the behavior.

As Swanson and colleague Dr.