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Middle Ground on Gun Control

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Technical Report

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Each tragic shooting incident that the American news media covers highlights the problem of gun violence in the United States. However, the focus of this reporting is rarely on the largest component of total gun deaths suicides. Suicides make up two-thirds of all gun deaths. Limiting access to firearms for individuals with suicidal tendencies could cause a significant reduction in the total number of casualties included in gun violence statics. This thesis examines the efficacy of adding more mental health information to the FBIs database of persons who are prohibited from gun purchases, and also compares U.S. gun laws to the National Firearms Agreement in Australia, which is widely accepted as an effective gun control measure. This research finds that mental health information on clinical depression and schizophrenia can be a strong predictor of suicidal tendencies, and reporting of this information could be improved in order to reduce overall gun violence. Improved mental health reporting must be a matter of federal law, because current state laws on guns vary widely and have limited effectiveness.

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