Instigator / Pro

People buying a gun should have to take an IQ and psychological test, including emotional stability.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

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After not so many votes...

It's a tie!
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Two weeks
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Round 1
In order to prevent quick decisions made in stress that result in the injury or death of one or more people, individuals who may be rash under stress, or emotionally hurt, should not be able to buy guns. 

In order to reduce violent crime and shooting, individuals psychologically predisposed to acting rashly or violently should not be allowed to buy, own or possess a firearm.  Anybody wishing to purchase a firearm should be required to take a mental health assessment similar to those already used by military and police forces to evaluate potential applicants [1, 2]. This test should also include a section dedicated specifically to testing the rationality of in-the-moment decisions the purchaser might make if confronted in the real world [3]. This has been common practice. The military has recruits take psychological evaluations despite the fact that the recruits are constantly supervised, and always surrounded by dozens of other soldiers with the same guns. Yet unsupervised citizens are not held up the same standards, namely taking a mental capabilities assessment. Furthermore, the police force, usually administered only pistols, and usually travel with a partner and 24/7 bodycam, have to take an assessment as well. Still, we do not hold citizens to the same standards. Why? Are there any cons to ensuring the public's safety? Let's take a look at the pros, first.

One benefit might be to reduce the number of Goetz-like situations. Bernhard Goetz shot 4 young African American boys with little to no aggravation:

"Troy Canty approached Goetz, asked Goetz how he was, and made some overture for money: According to Canty, he said, "Can I have $5?" According to Goetz, Canty, who Goetz said was joined by another one of the teens, said, "Give me five dollars" in a "normal tone" of voice. While those involved and witnesses disagree as to precisely what happened next, Goetz subsequently pulled a handgun and fired four shots at the four youths, wounding all but Cabey. Goetz stated that he then bent down to Cabey, who was cowering on the ground, and said, "You don't look so bad. Here's another," and shot once again. Cabey's spine was severed, resulting in brain damage and partial paralysis. " [4]

"In the criminal trial, Goetz was acquitted of attempted murder..." [5] He was acquitted on the basis of self-defense, however, the kids had only sharpened screwdrivers in their pockets, which they had not drawn or attempted to draw out. Therefore, Goetz had no reason to believe he was being robbed besides that the kids were semi-surrounding him [6].
No such assessment like the one I am promoting was administered. He was also predisposed against blacks, as he had been robbed before, when he was unarmed.

"In 1981, Goetz was attacked in the Canal Street subway station by three young men who he claimed were trying to rob him...
...Unfortunately, the man was only charged with criminal mischief. Goetz was angered beyond belief, resentful of the fact that the others had gotten away...
...A few months later, Bernhard Goetz purchased a 5-shot .38-caliber Smith & Wesson Bodyguard revolver while on a trip to Florida." [7]

Goetz was obviously more likely to react violently in any sort of similar situation. Had he taken a psychological test before purchasing the gun, there is a good chance he wouldn't have gotten it, and the lives of 4 young men would've been significantly better.

Some may say it's a violation of the constitution and our rights to restrict guns. Yet, other rights have restrictions, such as the 1st amendment. Despite guaranteeing free speech, we cannot go around defaming anyone we can and not expect punishment [8]. Furthermore, there are already restrictions on the 2nd amendment itself! Civilians cannot buy automatic rifles, conceal their weapons with permits and training, and cannot purchase explosives. Most importantly, however, felons cannot buy firearms because they are predisposed to reacting rashly or violently when confronted with a high-stress, in-the-moment decision. We have to remember that felons were once regular civilians. 36% percent of federal prisoners and 29% of state prisoners [9] were carrying a gun during their crime. If we had evaluated them, they likely would've never gotten a gun. Instead, we are limited to preventing a reoffence after the fact.

Citations and Sources:

A restriction on the usage of firearms by individuals who may be rash under stress, or emotionally hurt sounds tempting, but it’s most likely to result in robbing highly functioning people suffering from mental health issues and those not mentally impaired at all of their rights to bear arms.

It’s important to note that mental impairments come in all shapes and sizes, and the instigator stated that the individual applying for a gun license should take a psychological test similar to the tests taken by future police and military officers [1][2]. I don’t believe that’s fair, considering the differences between a civilian’s and an officer’s responsibilities, expected standard of conduct, privileges, and usage of firearms. What I mean by that is, a lot of the mental impairments that disqualify a candidate for an officer don’t disqualify a civilian from purchasing a firearm because of the above differences, and if we were to prohibit the purchase and usage of firearms by all individuals not mentally fit to become a soldier, we’d strip millions of people fit to own firearms of their basic rights to bear arms.

The instigator also argues that the mentally impaired are more likely to act violent than those who are not, but the data isn’t so one-sided, because while yes, more violent crimes are commited by the mentally impaired than not, the instigator failed to mention that a large part of violence commited by psychologically unstable individuals are not caused by the psyche of the perpetrator, but rather the abuse of various substances, usually illegal. When the new data is taken into account, the ratio of violent crimes CAUSED by psychological issues or not, it gets way closer, and is it worth it to take away the rights of a huge group of people because of a negligible increase in likelyness to commit a crime? 

While you’re at it, why don’t you take away the guns of all alcoholics too, they could be under the influence while using a gun. And let’s take a stab at smokers also, as a prolonged break from nicotine is known to make them aggressive, what if they run out of cigarettes? Furthermore, let me remind you that statistics are a double edged blade, and psychologically impaired people are more likely to be the victims of violence as well, shouldn’t they be able to act in self defense?

The instigator also brought up the case and acquittal of Bernard Goetz [4][5][6][7]. Now, i’d like to state that i don’t agree with the decision of a jury, and had i sat in it, it’s a hill i would die on. I also think that racism (concious or not) has likely been at play while the jury was deliberating on the matter. As stated by the instigator, Goetz was also very likely biased by the race of the victims when making the decision to shoot, during the incident.

That said, the case is anecdotal evidence and is taken in isolation, it doesn’t take into account other mass shooters, and what percentage of them suffers from mental health disorders. When you look at the data, approximately 5% of mass shootings are related to severe mental illness [8], far less than the instigator would want you to believe, on that topic, the same source states that 23% of all mass shootings are caused by substance abuse, this just goes to support my earlier arguments about the importance of substance abuse in all cases, even the ones where mental instability is at play. The source further supports my arguments, stating 

“The data suggest that while it is critical that we continue to identify those individuals with mental illness and substance use disorders at high risk for violence and prevent the perpetration of violence, other risk factors, such as a history of legal problems, challenges coping with severe and acute life stressors, and the epidemic of the combination of nihilism, emptiness, anger, and a desire for notoriety among young men, seem a more useful focus for prevention and policy than an emphasis on serious mental illness, which leads to public fear and stigmatization.”

Another source [9] states:

“The contribution of serious mental illness to violent crimes involving a gun may be as low as 3%.13 In fact, individuals with mental illness are more likely to be the victims—not the perpetrators—of violent crimes.”

also agreeing with my claims, both of the above articles also put pressure on the fact that treating all shooters as crazy and mentally ill is a dangerous stigma that we, as a society should get rid of, rather than uphold it and exploit it to scare the general public of crazy gunmen.

Another argument in my favor you’ll see frequently is obviously the 2nd amendment. People trying to strike it down, such as the instigator, argue that other rights have restrictions also, and while that is true, there are very specific reasons for each and every one of those restrictions. Regarding the restrictions of the 1st amendment, you have the right to free speech, and the government cannot stifle that speech, however, objectively dangerous speech, like defamatory statements and encouraging a crime, can cause damage unrelated to the speech, and the person exercising their rights in harmful ways may be punished for the actual damage they caused, rather than the speech itself. 

When the 2nd amendment is concerned, it’s obvious that restrictions such as prohibiting the purchase of automatic rifles and limitations on carrying a concealed firearm had to be put in place, as those forms of firearm usage are far more dangerous than others and therefore should be subject to more safeguards. Likewise, prohibiting the usage of firearms for felons is based on their personal history and their own actions, rather than hypothetical ones, those individuals were proven beyond a reasonable doubt to be capable of such heinous acts.

Citations and Sources:

1: How to Prepare for the Police Psychological Exam in 2023 – Psychometric Success (, How Police Officers Assess for Mental Illnesses -
2: PMC Psychological Testing - Military Psych Evaluation Test [2023] (
3: Mental illness and violence: Debunking myths, addressing realities
4: 1984 New York City Subway shooting - Wikipedia
5: Bernhard Goetz - Shootings, Quotes & Facts (
7: The Story Of Bernhard Goetz, The Mugging Victim Turned "Subway Vigilante" (
8: Is There a Link Between Mental Health and Mass Shootings?
9: Most Mass Shooters are Terrorists, Not Mentally Ill
10: First Amendment - Free Speech, Press, Religion | Britannica

Round 2
I believe i made my point, and seeing as the Instigator failed to meet the 7 day deadline on publishing his response, I will not be dignifying them with an argument of my own.
Round 3