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Md. Officials Launch Task Force To Examine Guns & The Mentally Ill

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Gigi Barnett anchors the Weekend Morning Edition with Meteorologist...
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BALTIMORE (WJZ) — In light of the Sandy Hook massacre that killed 20 students and six adults, questions linger concerning guns and the mentally ill. Maryland officials launched a task force to look at the issue.

Gigi Barnett reports concerns were raised before Newtown.

Months before the Newtown, Conn. shooting where a 20-year-old gunman walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School with an arsenal of weapons and killed 20 children and six school workers, Maryland mental health workers had already formed a task force on guns and the mentally ill. The group found that firearms should be immediately stripped from anyone making specific threats of serious violence.

“The question was immediately asked by the task force: is mental illness a good predictor of violence?” said Patrick Dooley, chief of staff at Maryland’s Department of Health & Mental Hygiene.

Not much is known about the 20-year-old shooter’s mental health but sources close to him say he had a developmental disorder.

Maryland’s task force also recommends that doctors and mental health workers be required to report violent threats to police.

Dooley worked on the task force.

“As far as the reporting requirements and those sorts of things, I do think it would better allow individuals to understand what their requirements are as far as reporting to law enforcement,” said Dooley.

But Dooley said after months of working on the issue, the task force came to one overarching conclusion that may not shed any light on the Sandy Hook school shooting.

“Mental illness alone is not a great predictor for whether or not someone’s going to commit a violent act. But it’s mental illness coupled with other things or other things generally are greater predictors,” said Dooley.

The task force sent its recommendations to Governor Martin O’Malley, who is promising to introduce new laws in the wake of the Newtown school shooting.

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