Taking Guns Away From Mentally Ill Won't Eliminate Mass Shootings
Oct 16, 2013 - 11:42:31 AM
For audio and video of Dr. Bostwick talking about the editorial, visit the Mayo Clinic News Network.
Dr. Bostwick's editorial is a commentary on an essay in the same issue of Proceedings titled "Guns, Schools, and Mental Illness: Potential Concerns for Physicians and Mental Health Professionals." The authors focus on recent mass shootings and argue that these actions were not and could not have been prevented by more restrictive gun legislation. They further contend that a diagnosis of mental illness does not justify stripping Second Amendment rights from all who carry such a diagnosis, most of whom will never commit violent acts toward others.
Before reading the essay Dr. Bostwick - who is generally in favor of gun control - expected to disagree with its contents. Instead, he agreed.
"We physicians generally do not know enough about firearms to have an informed conversation with our patients, let alone counsel them about gun safety," says Dr. Bostwick. "We also tend to ignore the reality that as long as the Second Amendment is the law of the land, the right to bear arms and therefore personal gun ownership, whether of long guns for hunting or handguns for personal protection, will be an integral part of the American scene."
A few points Dr. Bostwick argues:
"It is important to note that mass shooting are very different from murder and suicide," Dr. Bostwick says. "These conclusions should not be extrapolated either to other forms of murder - often crimes of passion in which there is typically only a single victim - or to suicide, a phenomenon that is more than twice as common as homicide in the United States and frequently an impulsive act. Research shows gun restriction among suicidal people works."
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