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On Behalf of | May 10, 2015 | Firm News

Prof. Jonathan Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennesse who argues that mental illness is often a scapegoat that lets policymakers and the public ignore bigger, more complicated contributors to gun violence. Metzl, who reviewed the research on mass shootings and mental illness in a paper for the American Journal of Public Health, points to studies that show people with mental illness are more likely to be victims — not perpetrators — of violence, and that very few violent acts — about 3 to 5 percent — are carried out by the mentally ill. And while mental illness can be a contributor to some violent behaviors, other factors — such as substance abuse, poverty, history of violence, and access to guns — are much stronger predictors of violence and shootings.  Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms,  See also, Appelbaum, P.S. & Swanson, J.W, Gun laws and mental illness: How sensible are the current restrictions? Psychiatric Services, 61, 652-654 (2010)., There is little point focusing on a problem that doesn’t exist — unless it’s politically popular to suggest you’re going to do something. And that by doing this particular thing — even though it will make little difference — people will think, “Wow, he’s trying to keep those crazies with guns off the street.” The fact is, the vast majority of people on the street with guns are not people with mental illness, therefore focusing on them does little in the way of actually combating the problem of violent crime with guns.  See, Metzl, Let’s talk about guns but stop stereotyping the mentally ill,, Gostin, L.O. & Record, K.L.. Dangerous people or dangerous weapons access to firearms for persons with mental illness. JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, 305, 2108-2109 (2011)