More guns, more guns, more guns.

image of assualt riflesThere’s no room for disagreement in the gun debate these days, no dissent is tolerated. It somehow makes you unpatriotic to worry about public safety or even express concern about the trend to eliminate virtually every regulation of firearms.

Read more about how North Carolina law makers would further loosen gun restrictions:

via More guns, more guns, more guns. | NC Policy Watch.

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Guns and potentially violent persons

As we try to balance constitutional rights and public safety regarding people with mental illness, the traditional legal approach has been to prohibit firearms from involuntarily-committed psychiatric patients. But now we have more evidence that current laws don’t necessarily keep firearms out of the hands of a lot of potentially dangerous individuals, according to a recent Duke University report on linking the issues of anger and access to guns.

Researchers found that anger-prone people with guns were at elevated risk for a range of fairly common psychiatric conditions such as personality disorders, alcohol abuse, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress, while only a tiny fraction suffered from acute symptoms of major disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Fewer than one in 10 angry people with access to guns had ever been admitted to a hospital for a psychiatric or substance abuse problem, the study found. As a result, most of these individuals’ medical histories wouldn’t stop them from being able to legally purchase guns under existing mental-health-related restrictions.

Researchers suggest data could support “dangerous persons” gun removal laws, like those in Connecticut and Indiana, or a “gun violence restraining order” law like California recently enacted. Such laws give family members and law enforcement a legal tool to immediately seize guns and prevent gun or ammunition purchases by people who show warning signs of impending violence.

via Nearly one in ten U.S. adults have impulsive anger issues and access to guns — ScienceDaily.

Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll

Far more people kill themselves with a firearm each year than are murdered with one. In 2010 in the U.S., 19,392 people committed suicide with guns, compared with 11,078 who were killed by others. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the U.S.; in 2010, 38,364 people killed themselves. In more than half of these cases, they used firearms.

Access-to-guns-and-risk-of-suicide-chartIndeed, more people in this country kill themselves with guns than with all other intentional means combined, including hanging, poisoning or overdose, jumping, or cutting. Though guns are not the most common method by which people attempt suicide, they are the most lethal. About 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm end in death.

Rates of firearm suicides in states with the highest rates of gun ownership are 3.7 times higher for men and 7.9 times higher for women, compared with states with the lowest gun ownership—though the rates of non-firearm suicides are about the same.

“Cut it however you want: In places where exposure to guns is higher, more people die of suicide.”

When widely used lethal means are made less available or less deadly, suicide rates by that method decline, as do suicide rates overall.

It’s important that gun owners and non-gun-owners talk to one another. The question can’t be, “What do you think of gun control?” because everybody’s going to be for or against. The question needs to be, “How do we solve the problem of gun suicide?”

via Guns & Suicide: The Hidden Toll | Magazine Features | Harvard School of Public Health Magazine Features.

 

Bullied Students Sneak Thousands of Guns Into Schools

Bullying victims are sneaking hundreds of thousands of firearms, knives and clubs into U.S. high schools, according to a chilling new analysis that carries the eerie echoes of one recent mass school assault and two potential near misses.

Extrapolating from a survey of American high school students by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, researchers found that bullied students who are threatened or injured by a weapon on school property were eight times more likely to then choose, themselves, to carry a weapon to campus.

More alarming: Bullying episodes have a cumulative effect, vastly boosting the likelihood that a chronically harassed student will choose to pack a weapon before returning to a high school, the study found.

Specifically, bullied students who have endured four types of aggressive clashes at school — being verbally tormented, sustaining a physical assault, suffering personal property theft or damage, and cutting school due to safety concerns — are nearly 49 times more likely to have recently carried a weapon to school and 34 times more likely to have recently smuggled a gun into school, the study found.

via Bullied Students Sneak Thousands of Guns Into Schools – NBC News.com.

Pistol-Whipped

. . . A common refrain from gun proponents after a deadly mass shooting is that if only somebody at the scene had been armed, lives would have been saved. This idea, which underpins most gun marketing efforts, overlooks two important points: that guns in the home are more likely to be used against their owners than against invaders; and that without sufficient training and practice, citizens should not expect to be able to defend themselves with a gun.

In many states, the requirements for a concealed carry permit do not go far enough to establish whether the applicant knows how to operate a firearm in a high-pressure situation. Combined with gun-industry-backed statutes like “stand your ground” laws, it’s a recipe for more gun violence.

The battle over guns should not be between gun owners and nonowners; it should be between a gun industry that wants to promote gun sales at all costs, and an American public that acknowledges that there are legitimate, public-health reasons to regulate the purchase and use of firearms.

A balance can be struck between protecting the individual right to bear arms and the individual need to be safe. Part of that work involves determining what policies are in the public interest, rather than in the gun industry’s interest.

via Diana Wueger for Democracy Journal: Pistol-Whipped.

Anger, violent thoughts: Are you too sick to own a gun? – U.S. News

If there’s one thing Republicans and Democrats can agree on, it’s that mentally ill people should not have access to firearms.

But as lawmakers rush to restrict that access in the wake of recent mass shootings, mental health experts warn of unintended consequences: from gun owners avoiding mental health treatment to therapists feeling compelled to report every patient who expresses a violent thought.

“Many patients express some idea of harm to other people, everything from, ‘I wish I could rip my boss limb from limb,’ to, ‘I have a gun and want to blow that guy away,’” said Paul Applebaum, director of the Division of Law, Ethics, and Psychiatry at Columbia University.

Therapists usually interpret this sort of talk as part of the treatment process, experts say. But under a new law in New York, one of the strongest to be passed to date, therapists may feel compelled to report every instance of violent talk, lest they face legal consequences if something happens. And some say ordinary patients may wind up suffering the most.

“I see it very frequently,” Steven Dubovsky, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Buffalo, said of patients expressing violent fantasies. “You see people who struggle with anger or have violent thoughts, and if I thought they were going to act on it right away, I would stop them.”

“Now if you’re mistaken, you’re wrong about this, and you don’t report it, you could face criminal sanctions. I’m not taking any chances at that point,” Dubovsky said. That could encourage therapists to over-report, he said.

According to DJ Jaffe, executive director of the Mental Illness Policy Org, which advocates on behalf of the seriously mentally ill, all the talk of mental health and gun violence obscures a bigger issue – a nationwide struggle with how to care for the mentally ill.

“Most of the things they’re discussing are totally irrelevant to helping people with serious mental illness,” Jaffe said. “No one wants responsibility for the seriously mentally ill.”

via Anger, violent thoughts: Are you too sick to own a gun? – U.S. News.