Gun control & mental health

Jan 17, 2013

The nearly two-dozen Executive Orders President Obama issued in an effort to prevent more mass shootings include directing the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to conduct research into causes of gun violence.  But  a local psychiatry professor  believes it's unnecessary and it would be too costly.

Dr. Steven Dubovsky,  chair of the University at Buffalo's Psychiatry Department, said a lot of research on violence with guns has already been conducted. What's difficult to study, Dubovsky says, is predicting who will become violent, with or without a gun, because mass killings, while high profile, are rare.

Steven L. Dubovsky MD, Department of Psychiatry at UB School of Medicine
Credit Photo from UB Website

"And statistically the likely hood that someone with a mental illness is going to behave in a violent manor is...very, very small," said Dubovsky. 

A proper study would require millions of people and cost billions of dollars. The so-called 'mentally ill,' he says, are being "scapegoated."

"In the first place what do you mean by mentally ill? Do you mean anyone with a psychiatric diagnosis? Most recent door-to-door household survey showed that about 40-percent of the U.S. population meets criteria for a psychiatric diagnosis,"said Dubovsky.

And most gun violence, he says, is not caused by people with any type of mental illness.

"It's just very simple minded way of saying we have  a complicated problem in our society where we seem to have a lower threshold for violent behavior than a lot of other countries do.  And what's going on here to cause it? But it's certainly not an  availability of means of killing people. It's something in our culture that's making people feel that this is an easy solution to whatever might be bugging them," noted Dubvosky.

Instead of a new study on gun violence, Dubovsky says he'd rather see the government provide funding for people who need psychiatric treatment