USM Psychologist: Mental illness not to blame for gun violence

USM Psychologist: Mental illness not to blame for gun violence

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - With two mass shootings terrorizing communities and a standoff with a man resulting in six officers shot in Philadelphia, mental illness and gun violence have become popular topics.

A University of Southern Mississippi psychologist weighed in on the topic.

“I would say it’s fundamentally inaccurate to blame mass shootings on mental illness,” said Mike Anestis, a psychologist at Southern Miss.

Anestis focuses on suicide research and how firearms effect suicides.

He said the best way to prevent gun related violence is to safely store the firearm(s) in your home.

When someone in the house seems suicidal, Anestis said the best thing to do is to remove the firearm completely.

Anestis does believe the best way to see a decrease in violence is to find solutions that gun owners agree with.

In his research, he surveys gun owners to figure out what works best for them.

“There’s legislation that seems to be popular even among gun owners," Anestis. “In terms of extreme risk protection orders or universal background checks or mandatory waiting periods.”

Anestis’ goal is to find a way to reduce gun related deaths, especially suicide.

He believes if we do a better job of continuing the conversation that we will ultimately reduce gun violence.

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