Mental Illness, Firearms, and Mass Homicide: No Easy Answers*
By: Joe Simpson, M.D., Ph.D.
In recent years, tragedies in which a number of people are murdered by a man using firearms
(the perpetrators of these horrifying crimes are almost always male) have become virtually a
weekly occurrence somewhere in the United States. Although statistically speaking such awful
incidents remain extremely rare in a country with a population of one-third of a billion people,
the intense media focus on the perpetrators and the grieving families of the victims after each
tragic event, as well as the randomness and senselessness of the acts, has created an atmosphere where many are fearful that they too might become a victim. Among the media and
political leaders, there has also been an increasing focus on the availability of firearms in the U.S. and on the possible connections between mental illness and this form of multiple murder. It is perhaps unnecessary to point out that opinions, and emotions, on the topic of gun control are very intense; it likely ranks close to the debates over
abortion and immigration in terms of level of division, conflict and impassioned argument.
(Please read Dr. Simpson's full article beginning on Page 5)