Mental Health Gun Laws Unlikely To Reduce Shootings

NPR:

States aren’t likely to prevent many shootings by requiring mental health professionals to report potentially violent patients, psychiatrists and psychologists say.

The approach is part of a gun control law passed in New York yesterday in response to the Newtown, Conn., shooting a month ago. But it’s unlikely to work because assessing the risk of violent behavior is difficult, error-prone and not something most mental health professionals are trained to do it, say specialists who deal with violence among the mentally ill.

“We’re not likely to catch very many potentially violent people” with laws like the one in New York, says Barry Rosenfeld, a professor of psychology at Fordham University in The Bronx.

The New York law says mental health professionals must report people they consider likely to do harm. It also gives law enforcement officials the power to take guns from these people.

Such laws “cast a very large net that will probably restrict a lot of people’s behavior unnecessarily,” Rosenfeld says. “Maybe we’ll prevent an incident or two,” he says. “But there are other ways that would be more productive.”

Read the whole story: NPR

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