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The federal gun law enacted this summer includes $8.5 billion for mental health services. This is a welcome infusion of cash into a chronically underfunded service area. But will it significantly reduce gun violence?
The research suggests some skepticism. The Violence Project has created a large database of mass shooters and studied them in depth. According to the New York Times, the project’s researchers determined that mental illness is not a major contributing factor. Sociologist Jeffrey Swanson agrees. “If we were to cure serious mental illnesses,” he told the Times, “violence would go down by 4 percent.”
What most perpetrators do have in common, according to the Violence Project, is a recent life crisis, the sort of thing—grief, job loss, a breakup—that can overwhelm anyone’s coping mechanisms….