8/12/2019

The Puzzle of Identifying Future Mass Murderers Cannot Be Solved by Psychiatry, Background Checks, or Red Flag Laws

"Writing in The New York Times, psychiatrist Richard Friedman notes that "experienced psychiatrists fare no better than a roll of the dice at predicting violence." He therefore thinks it is unrealistic to rely on the mental health system to identify future mass shooters and stop them before they kill anyone, as Donald Trump has suggested. Yet Friedman argues that "more effective policies might involve gun control, including enhancing background checks and expanding so-called extreme risk protection orders, which would allow law enforcement to temporarily remove firearms from people deemed potentially violent."

Those policies, of course, rely on identifying people who are prone to violence. Is there any reason to think that background checks or "extreme risk protection orders," authorized by so-called red flag laws, will accomplish that task better than "experienced psychiatrists"?"