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Nearly 9 Percent Of Americans Are Angry, Impulsive, And Have A Gun, Study Says

National News Tribune News Service

Nearly 9 Percent Of Americans Are Angry, Impulsive, And Have A Gun, Study Says


By Melissa Healy, Los Angeles Times (TNS)

Tread lightly, Americans: Nearly 9 percent of people in the United States have outbursts of anger, break or smash things, or get into physical fights — and have access to a firearm, a new study says. What’s more, 1.5 percent of people who have these anger issues carry their guns outside the home.

The findings, published Wednesday in the journal Behavioral Sciences and the Law, suggest that measures to reduce gun injuries and deaths should focus less on diagnosed mental illness and more on a history of violent behavior.

The new research also indicates that the 310 million firearms estimated to be in private hands in the United States are disproportionately owned by people who are prone to angry, impulsive behavior and have a potentially dangerous habit of keeping their guns close at hand. That’s because people owning six or more guns were more likely to fall into both of these categories than people who owned a single gun.

In 2012, 11,622 people in the United States were killed by a firearm discharged during an intentional act of violence, and an additional 57,077 were injured. Although mass shootings have focused lawmakers’ attention on the need to keep guns out of the hands of those with a serious mental illness, the new study implies that doing so would make only a small dent in this tally of morbidity and mortality.

Researchers from Duke, Harvard, and Columbia Universities analyzed data gleaned from 5,563 face-to-face interviews conducted as part of a nationwide survey of mental disorders back in the early 2000s. The study authors say they are the first to estimate the overlap between gun access and a history of angry, impulsive behavior — with or without a diagnosable mental illness.

Fewer than one in 10 of those angry people with access to guns had ever been admitted to a hospital for a psychiatric or substance abuse problem, the study found.

Their behavioral history might suggest a propensity for violence, according to the study. But nothing in their medical histories would bar them from legally purchasing guns under existing mental health related restrictions.

“Gun violence and serious mental illness are two very important but distinct public health issues that intersect only at their edges,” said study leader Jeffrey Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine.

“The traditional legal approach has been to prohibit firearms from involuntarily committed psychiatric patients,” Swanson added. “But now we have more evidence that current laws don’t necessarily keep firearms out of the hands of a lot of potentially dangerous individuals.”

(c)2015 Los Angeles Times, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC

Photo: Southern Enigma via Flickr



  1. Dominick Vila April 9, 2015

    Yesterday, when I was weed whacking my lawn, one of my neighbors stopped by to congratulate me on all the flowers that my wife and I planted, and at one point he asked me if I needed literature on how to get a permit to carry concealed weapons in Florida. When I did not show any interest he pointed out that he had left literature in the mail box of my neighbor across the street, who is interested in exercising that “privilege”. These are normal, friendly, neighbors who, for some reason, are terrified of being attacked my mysterious heathens, or more likely feel threatened by the African American family that bought a house a couple of houses down from mine.
    What is obvious to me is that this issue goes beyond ideology or party affiliation. Millions of Americans are afraid and feel compelled to do whatever they can to defend themselves. Is the constant barrage of media coverage, focused primarily on violent crime, the cause for their paranoia? Or are they so afraid of President Obama’s “agenda” and the conviction that his policies are destroying America that they are convinced that it is up to them to defend the country? Whatever the reason, people who are otherwise perfectly normal and friendly, are arming themselves to the teeth, and don’t want to leave home without the protection of a firearm, just in case they are confronted by another nut carrying a firearm. Who needs Westerns when free for all gunfights are around the corner?

    1. latebloomingrandma April 9, 2015

      I still like watching old time westerns. But the people featured in this story are probably the same ones 200 years ago who would be shooting Indians , buffalo, and robbing trains. Some things never change with regards to human nature. Except the TV westerns are less bloody than today’s shoot-em-ups, and of course, reality. .

      1. ps0rjl April 9, 2015

        An interesting fact is that the Old West was not like television portrayed it. When cowboys got off the cattle drive the first thing they did is take a bath and buy new clothes as most of theirs was in tatters. The second thing they did is go to the local saloon and get a drink but before they could get a drink they had to check their gun with the bartender. There was very strict gun control in these cow towns and because of this there were less than two murders per cattle drive season in these towns.

        1. johninPCFL April 9, 2015

          Yeah, but that’s the saloon owner imposing A2 control, not the government.

          Fortunately, ALEC now has A2 remedies working their way through the state legislatures they own. Now in FL a business owner can’t keep his employees from bringing their guns to work. As Sharron Angle would say, the employee may need to inflict a little “second amendment remedy” on a boss.

          /sarc off

          1. ps0rjl April 9, 2015

            Actually it was the town council of these towns who passed the ordinance.

          2. bobnstuff April 9, 2015

            Bring guns to work, just what we managers need, armed employees. Didn’t the Post Office have a little problem with that a while back. Plus if ALEX was left wing you would be the first to object to some outside group interfering with your state government.

          3. DEFENDER88 April 10, 2015

            As a business man I am wondering if you disagree with me here.

            If a business is going to declare a “Gun Free Zone” (In “This day and age”) it should provide adequate, “armed” security to stop an active shooter. If not, it should let Certified Conceal Carry people carry in the business.

            If that means “you” or your designate, as long as they are qualified, ok.

            Because so called “Gun Free” Zones have become killing fields for the crazies(they actually seek them out) I will not go there unless I can either carry or there is adequate, Armed security provided.

            I don’t want to get shot like a fish in a barrel with out the chance to defend myself.

          4. bobnstuff April 10, 2015

            I have no problems with good concealed carry permits if they do a good job checking things out and the person is trained in the use of their weapon. I do believe that it’s the right for a company to exclude guns from their place of business.It their right. I work for a company with open carry and the only people I see carrying are nut jobs that I real don’t think should be walking around by themselves let along carrying a gun. My favorite was a guy in what looked like yellow PJ’s with his gun on his hip, I wanted to ask if he had gotten the cowboy hat and boots to go with it for Christmas. If you are so scared of the world that you feel a need to carry a gun then just don’t go places they aren’t welcome. I’ve been robed twice and in both cases a gun would have done me no good and it would have been stolen. As far as I know most people who are going to shoot you don’t yell draw before they shoot.

          5. DEFENDER88 April 10, 2015

            re My motivations – I Have to admit here, I have been shot-at 3 different times and me without a gun.
            By Yahoo Wannabes. Out in the country. And no fault by me.
            So I have some good reasons to carry a gun.
            Figure my luck has run out. So I bought a gun/s and got trained way, way beyond the “permit requirements”.
            And I sympathize with your frustration with the open carry Ya Hoo Wannabes.
            They annoy me too.
            And I agree it should be your right to exclude guns from your business.
            But feel if one is going to do this they should provide adequate security against an active shooter.
            And it is my right to not go there unless I can see you are providing adequate security.
            As for me being “scared of the world” – not much I am afraid of now, I carry a gun for Gods sake:) (And I am good with it)
            What concerns me most is being sure a bystander does not get hit.
            Better to not engage if that is likely.
            I train a lot and shoot (IDPA)Combat Pistol and 3Gun competitions – so I know how to use it and when not too.
            But – I do NOT “show” my gun in public.
            You will never see it unless you attack me, even then – I will try to knock you out 1st if possible.
            It is an absolute, last resort, life and death thing to even draw a gun.
            Actually my Defensive training has included active “Conflict Avoidance” if at all possible.

          6. bobnstuff April 11, 2015

            You are just the person who should have a carry permit. You have done it right. At one time you where the type of gun owner the NRA wanted in the world, now they have become gun salesmen to the scared rabbits of the world. I’m practical and
            want a safe world to live in. A scared or angry person with a gun
            that they don’t know how to use worries me more the the criminal with a gun. Getting rid of guns would do little, Think about the kid with the knife at Franklin Regional last year. I’m a strong believer in gun control, if you own a gun you need to be in control of it at all times and be responsible in it’s use and storage.

          7. DEFENDER88 April 11, 2015

            Boy am I with you on scared, angry people with guns, like I said they have shot at me before.

            Its really scary.

            The NRA

            I understand your frustration with the NRA no compromise stance on the “Political” issues.

            It confuses me to an extent at times.


            Not actually being in the NRA – you would not know the following:

            I had to go thru the NRA Training to get Certified as a State Conceal Carry Instructor.

            The NRA still develops and maintains this nations Standards for firearm training and “Certifications”.

            Even for the Police. And for most all carry permits.

            The NRA still provides all the training standards for these type things in this country.

            It is actually their fundamental, primary work. ie where most of their actual work is done.

            One of the training sessions they have is – “you” are responsible for your gun and proper storage, etc. and they go into detail as to how to do this.

            The political wing and stance are a different thing altogether.

            But without the NRA there would be no standard training system in this country.

            If everyone could go thru the training and follow it – no one here would be accidentally shot, etc.

            On the other things you say, I essentially agree.

            I would even carry it further, I think before you can even buy a gun, you should be trained(certified) in how to use it and how to keep it away from those who should not get access to it.

            And I think you should have to show that you are sane and rational enough to deserve owning one.

            Why the NRA does not support that is something of a mystery to me.

            Except from the view point/position that if you give the real gun grabbers an inch you will loose everything by a mile.

            And I have tried to debate those type people(some in here), ie they want ALL guns banned no matter what – and there is no reasoning or compromise with them whatsoever. Nor do they understand guns, components, ammo, etc in general.

            They have no tolerance for Sport, Competition, recreation, hunting, Self Defense, etc owning and shooting what so ever.

            They even say things like ” You are using Hollow Points” because you “want” to kill someone.

            Fact is, we carry hollow points in our carry guns because there is less of a chance it will shoot-thru a threat into an innocent person.

            We work a lot(with other techniques also) on trying to avoid “shoot-thrus”.

            At least if you get a permit, in this state anyway(TN), you have to shoot a scored qualifier to show you know how to shoot and you get training on the law, storage, etc, and pass a scored test on all this, and there is an instructor who you must interface with who can “flag” people who maybe should not have a gun. Plus a full FBI background check, finger printed, etc.

            There are states that don’t require much to get a permit – I think they should all adopt our(TN) standards.

            I think mental health records should be available for Permit Applicants – but then we have the problem of privacy – maybe time for a change with this.

  2. bobnstuff April 9, 2015

    It’s not just the angry people you need to watch out for with guns, it’s also the stupid ones. I walked into one of my sons friend house one day and sitting on the coffee table
    was a loaded 9mm with no adult in the room My son was nine at the time and if you have ever had a nine year old you know that they don’t do what you tell them to and gun safety is not big on their list. If you need a gun for protection you also need to protect yourself and your family from the gun. No one should ever die because you didn’t take care of your guns.

    1. johninPCFL April 9, 2015

      I’m glad your son had sense enough to leave it be. Fortunately, social Darwinism still holds and the vast majority of accidental gun injuries are members of the immediate family.

    2. DEFENDER88 April 9, 2015

      It was not your house so this is not directly for you but for others.
      The best way to keep children from getting and shooting your gun is to train them in the Safe Handling Rules and show them how dangerous a gun can be like fire one into a jug of water, etc.

      So guns will not be such an intriguing mystery to them, nor just another new toy, they will know how dangerous they can be.

      Tell them when they are old enough you will show them how to use it.

      If you don’t know the rules, let me know and I will inform. Follow these and you, nor them will be shot.

      Also today there are Bio-Metric Gun Safes that can keep children out but you can access in a hurry if needed.

      1. bobnstuff April 9, 2015

        Well said, I wish all gun owners took responsibility for their guns and the safety of their family. The children in my house don’t know were the guns are stored and the bolts are locked up in a different location. As they get old enough they get to go shooting, and are trained in safety and get to see what damage can be done. People buy guns to protect their families and then put them in greater danger by being careless.

  3. David April 9, 2015

    Better to do nothing then risk the ire of the NRA and risk getting those election dollars. I am not against the 2nd amendment, and consider that the slippery grip we retain on on some other amendments, notably the 4th, would disappear forever and be written out of our history books in a generation, not unlike the treatment that that non-Judeo-Christian unproven “theory” of evolution is undergoing right now, if we didn’t have a well-armed militia waiting to form when needed. But I do think maybe the NRA is shooting us in the foot by not doing all it can, and used to do, to make gun laws rational. Why can’t a person wait 14 days, or even 90 days, to receive a gun they purchase? Are they all little children who unwrap Christmas presents before Xmas, and throw temper tantrums when they cannot get what they want now? You wait for escrow to close on a house without fretting and whining and thinking paranoidly that it is a govt. plot to take away your rights. Why wouldn’t all but the insane think it was worth the effort to ascertain whether a gun buyer was insane with a history of mental illness, or a convicted felon with a history of violence. For god’s sake they think it is a plot to disarm them to try and lessen the amount of lead leftover in abandoned carcasses that California condors live on and die from. I think one day, because the NRA has abandoned any rational sense of cause and effect, that the unarmed majority will insist that the govt. round up some weapons, like Australia did. And on that day the govt., who will have already gone down the street in DC to the NRA headquarters and because the NRA has no attorney/client, priest/worshipper, or doctor/ patient confidentiality protection go to the homes of its members first and disarm them. Plus anyone who dreams he could go head to head with the Army because he has an AK with a few 30 round clips taped together is already crazy and maybe needs disarming. Just my take, and I do own guns. By the by, many, many of those angry gun toting people they refer to are policemen it seems. In also advocate for a National mental fitness exam for all policemen, be they from a lawless big city or were hired by their cousin the police chief of some little backwater to keep them out of anymore trouble, and hell they really liked shooting all their lives anyway, it was a natural fit.

    1. Dominick Vila April 9, 2015

      I would not be surprised if many right wingers don’t have a problem with expanding Reagan’s Brady Act to include stricter controls to ensure criminals and the mentally ill don’t have easy access to weapons of mass destruction. The reason they are against change is because of who proposed the changes, rather than the changes being proposed.


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