Mental illness and gun violence: lessons for the United States from Australia and Britain

Evans, Richard, Farmer, Clare and Saligari, Jessica 2016, Mental illness and gun violence: lessons for the United States from Australia and Britain, Violence and gender, vol. 3, no. 3, pp. 150-156, doi: 10.1089/vio.2015.0049.

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Title Mental illness and gun violence: lessons for the United States from Australia and Britain
Author(s) Evans, RichardORCID iD for Evans, Richard
Farmer, ClareORCID iD for Farmer, Clare
Saligari, Jessica
Journal name Violence and gender
Volume number 3
Issue number 3
Start page 150
End page 156
Total pages 7
Publisher Mary Ann Liebert Publishers
Place of publication New Rochelle, N.Y.
Publication date 2016-09-01
ISSN 2326-7836
Keyword(s) firearms
gun control
gun violence
international comparisons
mental illness
Summary In the United States, the nexus between mental illness and shootings has been the subject of heated argument. An extreme expression of one point of view is that “guns don't kill people, the mentally ill do.” This article seeks to demonstrate the falsehood of this argument, by examining the real-world experience of two comparable societies. Australia and Great Britain are both Anglophone nations with numerous points of commonality with the United States, including high rates of mental illness and significant exposure to popular culture that perpetuates the stigma of the mentally ill as a violent threat. However, in Australia, it is difficult to obtain firearms, and a mentally ill person behaving aggressively is unlikely to be able to harm others. On the contrary, police are almost the only people routinely armed in Australian communities and are often too ready to use firearms against the mentally ill. In Britain, guns are even more difficult to obtain, and operational police are not usually armed. The authors examine statistical data on mental illness, homicide, and civilian deaths caused by police in all three nations. They also consider media and popular opinion environments. They conclude that mental illness is prevalent in all three societies, as is the damaging stigma of “the dangerous madman.” However, the fewer people (including police officers) who have access to firearms, the safer that community is.
Language eng
DOI 10.1089/vio.2015.0049
Field of Research 160205 Police Administration, Procedures and Practice
Socio Economic Objective 920410 Mental Health
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
ERA Research output type C Journal article
Copyright notice ©2016, Mary Ann Liebert Publishers
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