POLITICO's Pulse Check

Gun violence is more than a "mental health crisis"

Episode Summary

President Donald Trump and many politicians have blamed recent mass shootings on mental illness. A UC Davis psychiatrist says they're getting it wrong — and the actual crisis is far more nuanced.

Episode Notes

A pair of mass shootings have renewed the spotlight on the nation's high rate of gun deaths. POLITICO's Dan Diamond reviews why health care groups say that gun violence deaths represent a "public health crisis" — and how GOP congressmen and the current Surgeon General avoid using that term.

Then Dan talks with Amy Barnhorst, a UC Davis psychiatrist who specializes in gun violence research, about her work and legislation intended to reduce deaths (starts at the 3:15 mark), what she makes of recent comments by President Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden about the role of mental illness and video games (15:45), and how physicians were mobilized by the NRA's "stay in their lane" tweet and what she would advise politicians to do (21:30).


Dr. Barnhorst's February 2018 New York Times op-ed on why the mental health system shouldn't be responsible for stopping mass shooters.

A Sactown Magazine article looks closer at UC Davis' work on gun violence research.

California's implemented a gun violence restraining order law, devised in part by Dr. Barnhorst.

The president linked gun violence with mental health in a speech on Monday. Biden also decried violent video games as a possible factor.