Bioethics Blogs

The Medicalization of Mental Illness in Gun Violence

By Carolyn C. Meltzer, MD
Dr. Meltzer serves as the William P. Timmie Professor and Chair of the Department of Radiology and Imaging Sciences and as the Associate Dean for Research at the Emory University School of Medicine. Her work focuses on applying novel advanced imaging strategies to better understand brain structure-function relationships in normal aging, late-life depression, and Alzheimer’s disease. She is also involved in oncologic imaging research and, while at the University of Pittsburgh, oversaw the clinical evaluation of the world’s first combined PET/CT scanner. She established the Emory Center for Systems Imaging to broadly support the advance of imaging technologies in basic and translational research, including beta testing of the first human combined MRI/PET scanner. Dr. Meltzer has also served as the Chair of the Neuroradiology Commission and Chair of the Research Commission on the American College of Radiology’s Board of Chancellors, President of the Academy of Radiology Research, Trustee of the Radiological Society of North America Foundation, and President of the American Society of Neuroradiology.
On January 6, 2017, a young man pulled a semiautomatic handgun from his checked baggage and shot and killed several passengers in the Fort Lauderdale airport. In the days following the incident, information about erratic behavior and his prior involvement in incidents of domestic abuse emerged.
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The US has the highest rates of both gun-related deaths and mass-shooting incidents. In the latest available statistics from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 33,304 people were killed by firearms in 2014. Over the past decade (2007-2016), there have been 16 mass shootings in the US (Mother Jones’ Investigation: US Mass Shootings 1982-2016), including several — at Virginia Tech, an Aurora theatre, the Sandy Hook Elementary School, Charleston’s Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church, and the Pulse nightclub in Orlando – that drew substantial national attention.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.