Mental Health and Gun Ownership


Firearms can be used for multiple uses but can also be used to inflict harm to others and take the life of individuals. Currently the legal system of the United States of America holds different standard for individuals deemed mentally insane. These individuals are not equally responsible for serving the same punishment as a mentally stable individual and are exempt from the serving their time in the prison system by being deemed not guilty by reason of insanity. [1]

Fatal Gaps

Fatal Gaps


It is in our interest to protect the health and wellbeing of these individuals and those of the members of their communities by restricting the access of these individuals to firearms as it was mandated in the state of Washington.[2] By correctly implementing a system of medical professionals that diagnose an individual as mentally capable prior to gun purchase we can limit the liability that can come from having any single individual purchasing a firearm and causing harm to themselves or others.

By passing this bill we are equally protecting the rights and health of these individuals deemed medically as mentally unstable as well as protecting the rights of the community they reside in. Although the second a amendment is the right of bear arms, one has to consider that this can only be attained as long as the individual in question posses sound mind and clarity to make rational and informed decisions.

[1] Not Guilty By Reason of Insanity, Cornell Law

[2] Fundamental Rights to Keep and Bear Arms in Western Washington, Seattle Criminal Law


Other Supporting Documents:

National Conference of State Legislature

The workthreat group, LLC

Guns and Ammo, Magazine



9 Responses to “Mental Health and Gun Ownership”

  1. dsloan2 Says:

    I agree that evaluations for gun purchases are a means to correct the deregulation of this industry that has occurred over the years. Over the past few years many incidents and mass shootings have refocused national attention to the regulation of gun acquisition. Intervening at this stage with a psychiatric evaluation could indeed divert some mentally unstable people from having access to firearms, but the protestors will certainly fight idea. How can we highlight the need for gun control in whatever fashion and still honor people’s second amendment rights? On the other hand, adding this element of screening for gun control would be quite taxing financially and demanding on the medical system. Are we equipped to handle this type of load in today’s health care system? It is a very slippery slope, but still an issue that needs to be addressed to provide the highest safety for everyone in this country.

  2. iramhaq6 Says:

    I think this is an interesting policy that can have a vast beneficial impact on gun policy. In addition to having people be evaluated prior to purchasing a gun it may also be of benefit to test those that have committed a violent act with a purchased gun. This way their rights to carry a gun can be revoked. This can also provide interesting insight for research that indicates the general state those who commit violent crimes with guns. This can ultimately lead to further regulations that can reduce the amount of guns that are in the hands of untrained people. In addition I think this can have particular application in terms of law enforcement, since according to several statistics police officers who have been found to use excessive force (granted this is not always involving a gun) tend to be repeat offenders. Taking such officers off the police force or at least restricting their access to a gun can prove beneficial for the general community.

  3. shalinipammal Says:

    This is a very important issue and one that raises many questions related to the legality and efficacy of firearms regulation in this country. It has been well cited in research literature on this issue that firearm fatalities and injuries are more likely among those that are mentally incapacitated. Intervention to curb the number of mentally ill persons having access to guns is an important consideration in reducing firearm mortality rates. It is essential to consider the political climate and feasibility of this alternative though. Given strong, well-resourced lobbies that have even prevented universal background checks that were supported by 98% of the public, it seems unlikely to me that screening in this way would pass political muster. Instead, one might consider how we prioritize resources for mental health services, outside of its connection to firearm ownership. Perhaps, focusing on strengthening community assets, youth development, greater educational and civic engagement programming and health services, would be a more broadly accepted alternative that has implications for enabling health and reducing firearm-related injuries and fatalities. Furthermore, engaging families and the medical community toward this end might have positive externalities in other sectors of society.

  4. ndegner1 Says:

    Great blog. I’m curious, is there firm research showing that people with poor mental health are more likely to carry out violent acts with firearms than those with good mental health? I’m curious how much this is retrospective of the crime, as in, after the person carries out the crime, you look at their history and say “ah-ha”, clearly x, y, and z show that he was mentally unstable and contributed to this act. However, if you in turn went out and compared x, y, and z to the rest of the population would find that they are no more likely than those without, or, perhaps they do have a significant risk of carrying out the violent offense, but in absolute terms its still a very small fraction of x, y, and z and therefore you are punishing, and I would say discriminating, against many with x, y, and z. It may have to be all or none otherwise it constitutes discrimination.

  5. bdhrphilippines2015 Says:

    I think that having a system of mental health providers who can perform assessments to determine the sanity of people who wish to own guns is a wonderful idea, but I am not sure if it can be carried out in implementation, as is the case with many situations involving access to guns. I think that the primary concern is really regarding people who sell guns to individuals without performing the requisite background checks, whether because they have managed to find a loophole (see the “Gun Show Loophole”) or otherwise. I think implementation is really going to be the big issue with this, but this is a great step in the right direction.

  6. alsabah87 Says:

    Great post! I agree, a bill needs to be passed to limit the purchase of firearms by medically confirmed individuals with mental instability.
    I personally feel that gun violence in general has been a long going issue in the US that should be tackled more aggressively. Although I agree that the above mentioned bill needs to be passed, I believe that we need more efforts put towards research so that we can analyze the problem effectively and finally address this epidemic with a prevention-based approach and intervention initiatives.

    Just to put things in perspective, the fatality rate of firearm violence is comparable to that of HIV/AIDS – an acknowledged epidemic by the CDC. And yet, the funding of research studies on firearm violence is substantially less to that of HIV/AIDS research, which was awarded the highest amount of funding in 2004 (13). This lack of sustained financial support makes it virtually impossible for public health practitioners to confront the epidemic of gun violence in the U.S.

    You are absolutely right, we are facing a critical moment in public health and should have the support and enactment of federal laws and legislations in tackling this national emergency.

  7. Mahmoud Hassan Says:

    Although, I agree that medical professionals need to evaluate the mental capability for individuals prior to guns, but I am afraid that this law will be another tool of discrimination against African Americans as racial bias is predominant in some areas of the United states.
    Laws are only enforced on poor and minority.
    For example, In Ferguson, Missouri, racial bias is enrooted in Ferguson law enforcement: when white militia took to the streets of Arlington to warn misbehaving drivers of speed traps, where was the Law!
    And recently, when the Oath Keepers (an American nonprofit organization who are mostly white encourages it members some of whom are said to be current and former U.S. military and law enforcement to disobey any orders they believe violate the Constitution of the United States.) took the street of Ferguson visibly armed. I cannot imagine that law enforcement will allow African Americans to do the same thing.

    Although the law is logical and extremely important but racial disparity must be addressed first before any law that might have the slightest chance of discrimination and bias.

  8. tshedra1 Says:

    I appreciate your effort to put this topic up, to me I think guns may make it much easier to commit homicide or suicide but I have also seen people stab other people very easily. It made me think guns might not be the only problem but maybe we need to help people not to act violently in addition to denying access to guns.

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