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Don't use mental illness to restrict gun ownership. That just reinforces stigma

Don't use mental illness to restrict gun ownership. That just reinforces stigma
Handguns are on display at the National Rifle Assn. convention in Dallas on May 4. (Sue Ogrocki / AP)

To the editor: Three months after a gunman killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., it is clear that the politics of gun violence prevention have shifted. As the Los Angeles Times noted, one of the indicators of this shift is the bipartisan passage of state laws across the country to keep guns away from people determined to be at great risk of committing violence.

The focus on behavioral factors makes extreme risk laws unique and effective, as the criteria for removal are based on behavior, like a history of violence. These risk laws should not be based on a diagnosis of mental illness.

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Research shows that mental illness is not a significant risk factor for interpersonal violence, and blaming those with mental illness reinforces stigma. As dozens of states consider enacting extreme risk laws, legislators must be mindful to craft policies based on evidence and behavior, not prejudice and misinformation.

Bryan Barks, Washington

The writer is executive editor at the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

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To the editor: What an amazing story: Doctors telling patients with dementia (those who may not know where they are, who they are, to whom they are talking or what they are doing) to give up their guns.

One can see Wayne LaPierre and Oliver North of the National Rifle Assn. going into a frenzy over this. Without a doubt we will see vociferous attacks upon the medical profession by President Trump and other NRA surrogates exhorting the faithful to prevent anyone from denying an American citizen, regardless of whether he or she has dementia, the constitutional right to own a gun.

After all, the right is absolute.

Frank Ferrone, El Cajon

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion and Facebook

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