Regarding John Kelly’s July 24 Metro column, “Holmes was so odd, how did he get guns legally?

People with mental illnesses are no more likely to be violent than is the general population. Numerous studies show that crimes by people with psychiatric problems are over-reported, usually with gross inaccuracies that give a false impression of risk. The result is that the public falsely sees mental illness as the cause for heartbreaking events.

Mr. Kelly suggested that restricting the gun rights of individuals who have been treated for mental health conditionswould prevent violent acts. But such action confuses a one-time illness with a lifetime affliction and would only stigmatize and deter some from seeking care.

No one who is acutely ill, intoxicated or blind with anger should have ready access to firearms. Reducing the availability of guns to the general population is a more sensible strategy to reduce gun violence.

David Shern, Alexandria

The writer is president and chief executive of Mental Health America.