Gun Violence, Mental Illness, And Laws That Prohibit Gun Possession: Evidence From Two Florida Counties.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Gun violence kills about ninety people every day in the United States, a toll measured in wasted and ruined lives and with an annual economic price tag exceeding $200 billion. Some policy makers suggest that reforming mental health care systems and improving point-of-purchase background checks to keep guns from mentally disturbed people will address the problem. Epidemiological research shows that serious mental illness contributes little to the risk of interpersonal violence but is a strong factor in suicide, which accounts for most firearm fatalities. Meanwhile, the effectiveness of gun restrictions focused on mental illness remains poorly understood. This article examines gun-related suicide and violent crime in people with serious mental illnesses, and whether legal restrictions on firearm sales to people with a history of mental health adjudication are effective in preventing gun violence. 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. Suggested policy reforms include enacting risk-based gun removal laws and prohibiting guns from people involuntarily detained in short-term psychiatric hospitalizations.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Swanson, JW; Easter, MM; Robertson, AG; Swartz, MS; Alanis-Hirsch, K; Moseley, D; Dion, C; Petrila, J

Published Date

  • June 1, 2016

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 35 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 1067 - 1075

PubMed ID

  • 27269024

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC5154170

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1544-5208

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1377/hlthaff.2016.0017


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States