Mass shootings in the United States: Understanding the importance of mental health and firearm considerations

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The purpose of this study was to examine whether mass shooters' media-reported mental health history and firearm access related to mass shooting severity. The current analysis included a total of 102 mass shooters in the United States between 1982 and 2018 described in media reports. Negative binomial regression analysis was used to assess if a shooter's media-reported mental health history and firearm access were related to mass shooting severity while controlling for age, race, location, weapon attainment legality, and assault rifle use. Results suggest that reported mental health histories, number of weapons brought to the scene of the crime, weapon attainment legality, the use of an assault-style weapon, and location were significantly related to mass shooting severity. Understanding the relationships between gun access, mental health, and mass shooting severity might provide a better foundation for policy development aimed at minimizing mass shootings. Unaddressed mental health issues might increase violence; therefore, reducing mental health stigma might enable more individuals to seek formal evaluations, which could assist violence prevention efforts. Similarly, increased firearm responsibility and safety, whether at the social or legal level, might reduce violence and prevent casualties of mass shootings.

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