Gun Violence and Mental Health

Jun 10, 2022

Every time there is a mass shooting event in the US, in addition to the debate about gun control, there is always a cry for more investment in mental health resources.

I don’t believe this would work.

Gun violence in the US consists of two categories of events.

The first category consists of isolated events where a disturbed individual, with a severe sociopathic personality disorder, sometimes psychotic at the time of the event,  commits mass murder. Sometimes the victims are a specific group of people that are the focus of the shooter’s hatred. Other times the victims are totally random.

The second larger category consists of the daily gun events, largely in big inner cities with long-standing crime problems, often gang-related.

Spending money on mental health resources will do nothing to help prevent either of these categories of events.

People with personality disorders are notoriously resistant to any type of mental health intervention. They don’t want to talk to mental health providers and if they do are very resistant to treatment. Similarly, investing in more mental health facilities will do little to prevent gun violence that is deep-rooted in complex socio-economic and cultural issues and issues related to crime prevention.

There is little doubt that life today is associated with more mental health problems for more people, and that more and better mental health care is needed. However, we are fooling ourselves if we think spending more money on mental health will have any effect whatsoever on the gun violence plaguing our country.