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September 7, 2011

Mental Illness and Firearm Violence—Reply

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC (Mr Gostin and Ms Record) (gostin@law.georgetown.edu).

JAMA. 2011;306(9):930-931. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.1261

In Reply: Everyone agrees that potentially violent individuals should not have ready access to firearms. But who is potentially violent? Dr Howsepian and Drs Swanson and Gilbert concur that predictions of violence among persons with mental illness are fraught with difficulty, pointing to recent evidence that some serious mental disorders may predispose even sober individuals to violence. Howsepian goes further to note that individuals who are left untreated are at greatest risk. We agree. Yet firearm restrictions do not differentiate between diagnoses and are not applicable to individuals prior to adjudication or involuntary commitment. In other words, the law does not reach the untreated mentally ill, regardless of severity of disease.