The Challenge of Gun Control for Mental Health Advocates

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Mass shootings, such as the 2012 Newtown massacre, have repeatedly led to political discourse about limiting access to guns for individuals with serious mental illness. Although the political climate after such tragic events poses a considerable challenge to mental health advocates who wish to minimize unsympathetic portrayals of those with mental illness, such media attention may be a rare opportunity to focus attention on risks of victimization of those with serious mental illness and barriers to obtaining psychiatric care. Current federal gun control laws may discourage individuals from seeking psychiatric treatment and describe individuals with mental illness using anachronistic, imprecise, and gratuitously stigmatizing language. This article lays out potential talking points that may be useful after future gun violence. (Journal of Psychiatric Practice 2013;19:410–412)

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