Guns, Public Health and Mental Illness: An Evidence-Based Approach for Federal Policy

Dec 11, 2013
Importantly, the research evidence points to several key factors that are associated with risk of committing firearm violence - toward self and others - in people both with and without mental illness, including history of violent crime, perpetration of domestic violence, alcohol abuse, and drug abuse. Current federal policies do not adequately reduce access to firearms by individuals who meet these evidence-based criteria for risk of violence. The policy recommendations proposed in this report are based on the best available research evidence, and hold promise for preventing gun violence by persons at high risk of committing gun violence - including suicide. While some updates to federal firearm disqualification criteria related to mental health are needed, the Consortium has concluded that rather than focusing on mental health as a single factor in isolation, future gun violence prevention policy efforts should use evidence-based cirtieria shown to increase the risk of violence - including suicide- to disqualify individuals meeting those criteria from purchasing or possessing firearms. The Consortium supports two distinct paths for intervention at the federal level. The first concerns needed updates to the existing federal mental health firearm disqualification policy. The second path expands federal firearm prohibitions to include people who meet specific, evidence-based criteria that elevate their risk for committing violence. With this dual approach, we offer policy makers a way forward that is informed by the best available evidence, meaningful for the victims and their families affected by gun violence, and respectful of individuals with mental illness and their care providers.
Linked Data show/hide