I am convinced that an effective tool for determining risk of violent behavior in individuals who desire ownership of firearms is psychometric testing (“Working for smart guns,” June 26). These are standardized examinations of personality performed by expert psychologists. They are very difficult for the tested individual to manipulate. Polygraph (“lie detector”) examinations also would be included. These methods are routinely used on individuals who are being screened for security positions in government, law enforcement and private sector concerns. Some of the well known tests are the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), the Myers-Briggs Preference Type Indicator, the Personality Preference Inventory, and the Attitudes Studies-Likert Scale.
I strongly contend that all individuals who apply for firearm ownership — and have already passed thorough background checks — should be required to pass such testing batteries in order to secure a license for ownership of dangerous firearms. The tests should be repeated at appropriate intervals for renewal of the permit.
This policy would involve significant expense to the applicant (who will be held responsible for this) and it would take a long time. Sometimes, deserving applicants will be excluded until they are able to pass the tests after a required time interval. Some few undeserving applicants may slip by. Of course, the black market will always be a factor. But many dangerous (criminal/mentally ill) applicants will be weeded out.
I feel that this approach is worth a try. Lives would be saved.
Jerrold Terdiman MD,