Anger and Access to Guns Increase Risk of Violence

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

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Anger and Access to Guns Increase Risk of Violence

In brief, gun violence has more to do with anger issues and ease of access to weapons rather than to psychiatric problems.

According to research conducted by the Duke University Medical Center, there is an estimated nine percent of Americans poised with the combination of impulsivity, angry tendencies, and easy access to guns. This study found that of these nine percent of individuals, 1.5 percent of them actually carried a firearm along with them in public areas. The demographics of anger-related tendencies and impulsivity are comprised of mostly middle-aged or younger males. This study also found that individuals with six or more guns in their possession were more likely to have more problems regulating their violent behaviors. The original gun laws were designed to keep firearms out of the hands of psychiatrically diagnosed individuals; however, research shows that less than one out of ten individuals with anger-related tendencies had been diagnosed with a mental health disorder. To be clear, traditional gun laws, have not stopped those at risk to have anger related tendencies, who are a greater risk of violence, from purchasing firearms. Further, recent trends in crime suggest that gun violence has started to become an ongoing issue in our country. Researchers suggest that evaluating an individual’s criminal background, especially past violent offenses, could help address the issue of these angry individuals from obtaining guns. Researchers suggest that a good solution for individuals who already have legally purchased a gun and who have violent tendencies, would be implementing “gun removal laws” or “gun restraining orders” to address their gun possession if they have acted out violently. Moreover, researchers in this study were aware of the current trends in gun violence and they wanted to find the relationship between individuals with anger related tendencies and easy gun access. Again, in this research study, it was found that a whopping nine percent of these individuals had easy access to guns, and these individuals are rarely diagnosed with mental illness. Mental illness and gun violence rarely overlap with one another. Contrary to popular belief, gun violence is not a psychiatric issue!  (Summary provided by psychology researcher, Reema Sabella.)

Jeffrey W. Swanson, Nancy A. Sampson, Maria V. Petukhova, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Paul S. Appelbaum, Marvin S. Swartz, Ronald C. Kessler. Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R). Behavioral Sciences & the Law, 2015; DOI: 1002/bsl.2172

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