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Jonathan M. Metzl - Vanderbilt University. Nashville, TN, US

Jonathan M. Metzl Jonathan M. Metzl

Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Medicine, Health, and Society | Vanderbilt University


World-renowned expert on gun violence and mental illness, white identity politics and race and health.




Jonathan M. Metzl Publication Jonathan M. Metzl Publication Jonathan M. Metzl Publication Jonathan M. Metzl Publication




Florida shooting suspect suffered from more than mental health | MSNBC Jonathan Metzl on political issues that could impact your health Mental Illness is the wrong scapegoat after mass shootings How political choices of some white Americans may impact their health



Jonathan Metzl is the Frederick B. Rentschler II Professor of Sociology and Psychiatry, and the Director of the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society, at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

Metzl is a gun violence expert, a professor, and a psychiatrist -- a unique combination that allows him to speak and write about gun violence in America, and in particular to address stereotypes that link guns with race or mental illness, or that blame mental illness for mass shootings and other gun crimes.

Metzl has addressed these issues in numerous media outlets, including MSNBC, the Washington Post, USA Today, and more. His latest book is Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment is Killing America's Heartland.

Areas of Expertise (13)

Guns in America

Guns and Mental Illness

Gun Violence

Race, Gender and Social Justice in Healthcare

Race and Health


Mental Health




History of Mental Health

Gun Control

Mass shootings

Education (2)

University of Missouri-Kansas City: M.D.

University of Michigan: Ph.D.

Selected Media Appearances (10)

How race permeates the politics of gun control

CNN  online


These days, despite a resurgence in Black gun ownership, the face of the gun rights advocate has changed -- rural White conservatives are now among the most vocal proponents. Take, for instance, Missouri, where, in the past two decades, "an increasingly conservative and pro-gun legislature and citizenry had relaxed limitations governing practically every aspect of buying, owning and carrying firearms in the state," writes Jonathan M. Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, in his 2019 book, "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland."

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Activists focus on tip site in protesting Texas abortion law

AP News  online


Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, said that although the website seems “comically inept at this point,” it does “what the actual law on the books is asking people to do, which is to report on people.”

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Family said Colorado suspect had 'mental illness.' Experts say that's rarely the cause of mass shootings.

USA Today  online


"There's no psychotic illness whose symptom is shooting other people," said Dr. Jonathan Metzl, director of the Center for Medicine, Health and Society at Vanderbilt University.

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Why Many White Men Love Trump’s Coronavirus Response

The Atlantic  online


But other experts’ research generally supports Hochschild’s thesis. “People look down on us, and now is our time to win,” says Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and medicine at Vanderbilt University, summarizing what he has found is the attitude of some Trump voters. Given that the pandemic has disproportionately killed people of color, some white Trump supporters may write it off as a “them problem, not an us problem,” he says.

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Trump campaign continues to show no signs of acknowledging Covid-19 realities

NBC News  online


Trump began experiencing symptoms sometime around Oct. 1. Some of his staff members who would typically travel to debates with him have been diagnosed even more recently than the president. "This is clearly a strategy," said Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University and the author of "Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America’s Heartland."

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Democrats are losing White voters to Republicans. They need to shift gears.

Washington Post  online


Is the GOP’s strategy of stoking fears of racial violence scaring White voters back into the Republican fold? Democrats should not underestimate the chances of a shift. A number of news accounts suggest that GOP messaging that links racial justice with rioting and looting and casts Democratic cities as anarchist purgatories is hitting home with voters whose support Democrats need in November. Marquette University pollster Charles Franklin found that “favorable” views of Black Lives Matter protests among White residents of Wisconsin fell from plus-22 to minus-5 between June and August. Joe Biden’s camp is now reportedly shifting focus to counter President Trump’s “law and order” message.

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Democratic Presidential Candidates Disagree On Mandatory Gun Buyback

NPR  radio


Calls for a mandatory buyback of semi-automatic rifles during the Democratic presidential debate wasn't embraced by all candidates. It also raises questions about just how feasible such a move would be.

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White Nationalists Pose Challenge to Investigators

The Wall Street Journal  online


Another difficulty in thwarting attacks: The vast majority of young disaffected men who embrace white nationalist ideology won’t commit mass violence, said Dr. Jonathan Metzl, a professor at Vanderbilt University who has studied the role of white nationalism in mass shootings. He said that more focus is needed on combating the ideology, given the difficulties of trying to predict the next mass shooters.

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Republican voters have become more xenophobic as Trump has normalized racist rhetoric

Business Insider  online


"For a certain segment of the GOP electorate, it reaffirms why they support Trump," Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and psychiatry at Vanderbilt University, told INSIDER of Trump's anti-immigrant rhetoric.

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Dying of Whiteness

Real Time with Bill Maher  tv


Professor and author Jonathan Metzl joins Bill to discuss how the politics of racial resentment is killing America's heartland.

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Selected Event Appearances (3)

How to Talk About Guns in the Classroom

Division of Health Humanities  University of Illinois


PLENARY PANEL CHAIR/PRESENTATION: Feeling Race in the Public Eye: Media and Race during the Trump Era

American Sociological Association Annual Meeting  Philadelphia Marriott Downtown



American Sociological Association Annual Meeting  Philadelphia Marriott Downtown


Selected Articles (5)

Using a structural competency framework to teach structural racism in pre-health education

Social Science & Medicine

Jonathan M. Metzl, JuLeigh Petty, Oluwatunmise V. Olowojoba

2018 The inclusion of structural competency training in pre-health undergraduate programs may offer significant benefits to future healthcare professionals. This paper presents the results of a comparative study of an interdisciplinary pre-health curriculum based in structural competency with a traditional premedical curriculum.

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The interdependence of African American men's definitions of manhood and health

Fam Community Health

Derek M Griffith, PhD, Associate Professor, Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, PhD, Marino A Bruce, PhD, MSRC, MDiv, CRC, Roland J Thorpe, Jr., PhD, and Jonathan M Metzl, MD, PhD


2016 In this paper we explore themes that cut across how 24-77 year old African American men define manhood and health. Utilizing a thematic approach, we analyzed data from nine focus groups (N=73). We found that manhood and health were relational constructs that are interrelated in men's minds and experiences.

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Mental Illness, Mass Shootings, and the Politics of American Firearms

American Journal of Public Health

Jonathan M. Metzl MD, PhD, and Kenneth T. MacLeish PhD

2014 Four assumptions frequently arise in the aftermath of mass shootings in the United States: (1) that mental illness causes gun violence, (2) that psychiatric diagnosis can predict gun crime, (3) that shootings represent the deranged acts of mentally ill loners, and (4) that gun control “won’t prevent” another Newtown (Connecticut school mass shooting). Each of these statements is certainly true in particular instances.

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Structural Competency Meets Structural Racism: Race, Politics, and the Structure of Medical Knowledge

AMA Journal of Ethics

Jonathan M. Metzl, MD, PhD and Dorothy E. Roberts, JD

2014 Physicians in the United States have long been trained to assess race and ethnicity in the context of clinical interactions. Medical students learn to identify how their patients’ “demographic and cultural factors” influence their health behaviors [1]. Interns and residents receive “cultural competency” training to help them communicate with persons of differing “ethnic” backgrounds [2].

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Structural Competency

American Quarterly

Jonathan M. Metzl

2012 Priscilla Wald's erudite retelling of the Henrietta Lacks story locates individual-level decisions about bodies and cells in the shifting terrain of politics, political economies, and notions of selfhood. Wald takes us on a sweeping tour of philosophical and economic …

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