Study Suggests Banning Guns from the Impulsively Angry, Not the Mentally Disordered


Huffington Post reported on a study from Duke, Harvard and Columbia researchers, finding that “nearly one in 10 U.S. adults have both a history of impulsive anger and access to a firearm.” There was little correlation between impulsive anger and mental disorders.

“The study, published in Behavioral Sciences and the Law this month, analyzed data from 5,563 face-to-face and household interviews that were part of the National Comorbidity Study Replication,” reported Huffington Post.

People were considered to have a “high risk for impulsive anger” if they answered affirmatively to questions like, “I have tantrums or angry outbursts;” “Sometimes I get so angry I break or smash things;” and “I lose my temper and get into physical fights.”

And while the study showed a relationship between impulsive violence and gun ownership, it “did not find much overlap between having major mental illness — such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder — and being impulsive, anger-prone and having access to firearms,” reported Huffington Post. “This corroborates previous research indicating that the majority of people who suffer from mental illness are not likely to be violent.”

“Because only a small proportion of persons with this risky combination have ever been involuntarily hospitalized for a mental health problem, most will not be subject to existing mental health-related legal restrictions on firearms,” wrote the researchers. “Behavioral risk-based approaches to firearms restriction, such as expanding the definition of gun-prohibited persons to include those with violent misdemeanor convictions and multiple DUI convictions, could be a more effective public health policy to prevent gun violence in the population.”

Harvard Study Finds Anger Issues, Not Major Mental Illness, Tied To Gun Violence (Huffington Post, April 8, 2015)

Swanson, Jeffrey W., Nancy A. Sampson, Maria V. Petukhova, Alan M. Zaslavsky, Paul S. Appelbaum, Marvin S. Swartz, and Ronald C. Kessler. “Guns, Impulsive Angry Behavior, and Mental Disorders: Results from the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R).” Behavioral Sciences & the Law, April 1, 2015, n/a – n/a. doi:10.1002/bsl.2172. (Abstract)


  1. So the caltech shooter, he wasn’t all kinds of crazy, he’s ok ?

    Any of this is really looking for a foot in the door to ban them all. I don’t really understand why they keep thinking that throwing up excuses is going to work though. Do they think they’re going to change anyone’s mind on this issue ?

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