The investigators will analyze merged, longitudinal, multivariable data from public mental health and criminal justice systems in Connecticut, Florida, and Virginia, to test the effectiveness of firearms laws' restrictions on access to guns for persons with a history of mental health adjudication.
Trends in arrests for gun-related crimes and fatalities for large cohorts of individuals diagnosed with serious mental disorder will be examined along with trends in the general population. The effects of gun laws will be estimated by comparing trends in gun violence for persons disqualified vs. not disqualified from gun purchase due to mental health history, and during the period before vs. after states' implementation of reporting to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The study will empirically test three theories of the relationship between mental illness and risk of gun violence: psychopathological motivation, which attributes violent behavior directly to features and manifestations of mental illness; criminogenic risk exposure over the life course, which attributes violent behavior to exposure to social and environmental influences; and social labeling processes, which account for the influence of socially-imposed labels about mental illness and dangerousness.
This research is co-sponsored by the National Science Foundation.