Psychologists: Treat Gun Violence As Health Issue, Focus on Prevention


The most effective way to reduce gun violence without significantly curtailing Second Amendment rights is to treat the problem as a public health issue, like smoking or drunken driving, rather trying to profile potential shooters, say experts commissioned by the American Psychological Association to study the issue after the Newtown, Ct., massacre, the New York Times reports. Ther panel reviewed evidence on a wide variety of interventions intended to reduce violence, including suicides and homicides, in schools and in the workplace. It concluded that trying to predict who will act out by profiling was unreliable, and that more systemic preventive policies were far more effective.

The report offers a list of such policies, including legal changes like tighter background checks on gun sales, and programs in schools to teach nonviolent conflict resolution. The report also sharply criticized the lack of government money to study firearm violence. “There's been so much focus on crisis response, on getting to the scene on time and fortifying our schools, and that's not going to take care of the problem,” said Prof. Dewey Cornell of the University of Virginia, who led the panel. “We need to focus on prevention more broadly, before the violence, to have a real impact.” One of the newer interventions that the report highlights is behavioral threat assessment, which is used at an increasing number of schools and workplacesy.

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