Law & psychiatry: Gun laws and mental illness: how sensible are the current restrictions?

Psychiatr Serv. 2010 Jul;61(7):652-4. doi: 10.1176/ps.2010.61.7.652.


This column describes federal and state laws to restrict access to firearms among people with mental illness. The contribution to public safety of these laws is likely to be small because only 3%-5% of violent acts are attributable to serious mental illness, and most do not involve guns. The categories of persons with mental illnesses targeted by the laws may not be at higher risk of violence than other subgroups in this population. The laws may deter people from seeking treatment for fear of losing the right to possess firearms and may reinforce stereotypes of persons with mental illnesses as dangerous.

MeSH terms

  • Firearms / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Mental Disorders*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Public Health
  • Safety
  • United States