Gun Control, Mental Illness, and Safety: A Letter for Ted Cruz

Dear Senator Cruz:

Thank you for inviting me to share my expertise concerning the problem of gun violence in America. My published books and law review articles examine, among other subjects, black history, the origins of American gun culture, the judicial interpretation of both federal and state right to keep and bear arms provisions, and the history of mental health care in the United States. My work has been cited in D.C. v. Heller (2008), McDonald v. Chicago (2010), and many decisions of the U.S. Courts of Appeal and state supreme courts.

Attached please find an article from the Federalist Society publication Engage published last year: “Madness, Deinstitutionalization & Murder.”[1]

The Engage article examines the role that the deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill, starting in the 1960s and reaching full fruition in the 1970s, played in increasing murder rates. Of most relevance to the recent tragedy in Connecticut, deinstitutionalization turned what had been a shockingly rare event — random acts of mass murder — into something that horrifies us but no longer shocks us because such incidents happen several times a year. This article is adapted from a chapter in My Brother Ron: A Personal and Social History of the Deinstitutionalization of the Mentally Ill (2012)[2].

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