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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 (9)

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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Parkland resource officer Scot Peterson stayed outside as bullets flew. Is he negligent or a scapegoat?

USA Today  


Jonathan Metzl, a professor of sociology and medicine, health and society at Vanderbilt University, says he is in no position to judge whether Peterson’s behavior was criminal. But he says focusing on the actions of one person raises the risk of “overlooking much bigger, systemic issues” that impact mass shootings

“There is evidence that they happen less frequently in states with strong gun laws and surrounded by strong gun-law states,” he said. “Potential red flags such as someone’s personal history are obviously important. We should be careful before we lay the blame at the feet of someone who did not rush in.”

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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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A Public Menace

U.S. News & World Report  online


IT'S A PUBLIC SCOURGE that, statistics show, claims more than 33,000 lives per year – an average of 96 people each day, including seven teenagers or children. It consistently shows up among the top causes of preventable death in America, keeping company with cigarette smoking and opioid drug overdose.

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'Protection orders' get a closer look in fight against gun deaths

The Christian Science Monitor  online


During the 2014 legislative session here in Washington State, a Senate committee killed a bill that would have temporarily confiscated firearms from any person deemed – by family members, friends, or law enforcement – to be violent or emotionally distraught and in need of a mental-health intervention.

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This Florida bill could restrict guns from dangerous owners

PBS News Hour  online


Before Nikolas Cruz used a semi-automatic weapon to open fire last week at his former high school in Parkland, Florida, killing 17 people and wounding at least 15 others, a tipster called the FBI to warn them he might carry out an attack.

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Connecting mental illness and mass shooting misses the point, experts say

NBC News  online


In the wake of the tragedy in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman killed 17 students and staff, the Trump administration and many Republicans have said that the best way to end the seemingly constant stream of mass shootings is by combating mental illness.

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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


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



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


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


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


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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