New York, April 9 (IANS) Angry people with access to guns could be potentially dangerous, but a study says that every ninth adult in the US has a history of impulsive, angry behaviour and yet has access to guns.
The findings highlight the shortcomings in current legal approach to preventing purchase of firearms only by those with serious mental health issues such as involuntary commitment to a psychiatric ward for schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.
The study also found that an estimated 1.5 percent of adults report impulsive anger and carry firearms outside their homes.
Angry people with ready access to guns are typically young or middle-aged men, who at times lose their temper, smash and break things, or get into physical fights, the findings showed.
“As we try to balance constitutional rights and public safety regarding people with mental illness, the traditional legal approach has been to prohibit firearms from involuntarily-committed psychiatric patients,” said lead author of the study Jeffrey Swanson, professor in psychiatry and behavioural sciences at the Duke University.
“But now we have more evidence that current laws do not necessarily keep firearms out of the hands of a lot of potentially dangerous individuals,” Swanson noted.
The researchers analysed data from 5,563 face-to-face interviews conducted in the National Comorbidity Study Replication (NCS-R), a nationally representative survey of mental disorders in the US led by the Harvard University in the early 2000s.
The study found little overlap between participants with serious mental illnesses and those with a history of impulsive, angry behaviour and access to guns.
In 2012, more than 59,000 people were injured by the intentional use of firearms, and another 11,622 were killed in violent gun incidents, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study was published in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law.