Response to Editorial on Mental Illness and Gun Violence

The New York Times published a letter on Dec. 28, 2015, from APA 2015 President Barry S. Anton, PhD, ABPP, and 2016 President-elect Susan H. McDaniel, PhD, in response to its Dec. 16, 2015, editorial, “Don’t Blame Mental Illness for Gun Violence.”

We applaud The New York Times for opposing the idea that gun violence can be prevented solely by addressing mental illness (“Mental Illness and Gun Violence,” editorial, Dec. 16). This concept is being used to distract from policies and legislation that would focus on preventing gun violence through a scientific, public health approach.

We know some of the risk factors for gun violence: drug and alcohol use, intense emotional crisis, economic factors, and of course, access to a gun. We need Congress and other policy makers to address these factors with interventions supported by evidence rather than avoiding them by scapegoating the mentally ill.

We specifically call on Congress to pass legislation that would require criminal background checks for all gun sales and to fund research on gun violence.

Barry S. Anton, PhD, ABPP
APA 2015 president

Susan H. McDaniel, PhD
APA 2016 President-elect