A complex and variable constellation of risk and protective factors makes persons more or less likely to use a firearm against themselves or others.For this reason, there is no single profile that can reliably predict who will use a gun in a violent act.It requires evidence-based, multifaceted solutions. Psychology can make important contributions to policies that prevent gun violence.Toward this end, in February 2013 the American Psychological Association commissioned this report by a panel of experts to convey research-based conclusions and recommendations (and to identify gaps in such knowledge) on how to reduce the incidence of gun violence — whether by homicide, suicide, or mass shootings — nationwide.Firearm prohibitions for high-risk groups — domestic violence offenders, persons convicted of violent misdemeanor crimes, and individuals with mental illness who have been adjudicated as being a threat to themselves or to others — have been shown to reduce violence.The licensing of handgun purchasers, background check requirements for all gun sales, and close oversight of retail gun sellers can reduce the diversion of guns to criminals.When Michigan became the thirteenth state to legalize medical cannabis in 2008, Lansing was quick to hop on board, holding the second largest number of dispensaries behind Detroit.
Reducing incidents of gun violence arising from criminal misconduct or suicide is an important goal of broader primary and secondary prevention and intervention strategies.
Policies and programs that identify and provide treatment for all persons suffering from a mental illness should be a national priority.
Urgent attention must be paid to the current level of access to mental health services in the United States; such access is woefully insufficient.
The skills and knowledge of psychologists are needed to develop and evaluate programs and settings in schools, workplaces, prisons, neighborhoods, clinics, and other relevant contexts that aim to change gendered expectations for males that emphasize self-sufficiency, toughness, and violence, including gun violence.
Although it is important to recognize that most people suffering from a mental illness are not dangerous, for those persons at risk for violence due to mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or feelings of desperation, mental health treatment can often prevent gun violence.
Although the rate of gun homicides in the United States has declined in recent years, U. rates remain substantially higher than those of almost every other nation in the world and are at least seven times higher than those of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and many others (see Alpers & Wilson).