Risk Assessment: How about Giving Guns Back to Former Mental Patients

A recent New York Times article explained that a provision tucked in a bill to make it harder for people diagnosed with mental illness to possess firearms, actually restores the rights of mental health patients to get their firearms back. The legislation was passed after the massacre at Virginia Tech in 2007.

One of the main elements of risk assessment is a quantitative (meaning = real numbers) on what has happened in the past. Looking at 2 or 3 years of incident reports, for example, show how many times there has been an incident involving gun violence in a particular neighborhood, city or organization.

Another element is the history of a particular individual to see whether individuals with a diagnosed history of mental illness are MORE OR LESS likely to trigger (forgive the pun) – a violent incident.

If we run that scenario, we will find that individuals who previously had a violent incident with a firearm are MORE LIKELY than the standard population to have another incident.
And that especially holds true if other threat indicators are present, for example:

Termination from a Job
Romantic Difficulties
Difficult Economy

There is a ‘risk multiplier’ effect that takes place that makes the risk higher. By combining different sets of threat categories with areas of weakness, we are create general predictions on the likelihood of repeated violent incidents.

Do the math – it doesn’t make sense for people with a history of mental illness to
get their guns back!