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How are gun violence and mental health problems connected (or not connected)? How effective are current laws designed to prevent firearm-related violence and suicide in the United States? What other feasible measures could be taken to meaningfully reduce the number of firearm injuries and deaths, without stigmatizing people with mental illnesses or unduly curtailing the rights of law-abiding gun owners? This chapter addresses such questions broadly from a public health perspective, examining key federal and state regulatory approaches to preventing intentional firearm-related injury—particularly as these approaches intersect with mental health policy. We describe the nature and scope of the problem and the unique challenge that it poses in the American context, where mass shootings continue to shape popular views of mental illness and public safety goals collide with individual gun rights concerns. We summarize empirical evidence for the effectiveness and shortcomings of mental-health-based gun restrictions at the point of sale. We describe a new generation of risk-based, non-criminalizing, time-limited, preemptive gun-removal laws as an important piece in the policy puzzle of gun violence and suicide prevention in the United States. Expert consensus recommendations on selected policies to reduce gun violence and suicide are discussed.
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- Gun Violence Prevention and Mental Health Policy
Jeffrey W. Swanson
Colleen L. Barry
Marvin S. Swartz
- Chapter 18