I have received many messages related to the issue of violence using guns. This weekend, Portlander Betsy Toll sent me the following, which I consider especially pertinent:
"Missing from most discussion about gun violence are some stark facts as to who tends to commit violent crimes. If we are choosing to target specific demographic groups for restrictions, rather than, or in addition to, weapons, we must acknowledge that alcohol and drugs are implicated in violent crime at a dramatically higher rate than mental illness.
In homicides, armed assaults, and domestic violence, a huge number of perpetrators are either under the influence or have a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse. As noted in a New York Times article on Dec. 17, 2012, Dr. Richard A. Freeman reports that:
"Alcohol and drug abuse are far more likely to result in violent behavior than mental illness by itself. In the National Institute of Mental Health’s E.C.A. [Epidemiologic Catchment Area] study, for example, people with no mental disorder who abused alcohol or drugs were nearly seven times as likely as those without substance abuse to commit violent acts."
That bears repeating: People with no mental disorder who abused alcohol or drugs were nearly seven times as likely as those without substance abuse to commit violent acts.
Restricting the gun rights of anyone with any alcohol or drug offense history would be an important step in reducing the tens of thousands of gun-crimes and suicides that occur in our country every year. I urge you to bring this perspective to the gun rights debates that will be happening in coming months."
Thank you, Betsy, for this thoughtful comment.