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Jonathan M. Metzl

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

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

Media Appearances

  • How race permeates the politics of gun control

    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."

    September 17th, 2021

  • Activists focus on tip site in protesting Texas abortion law

    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.”

    September 7th, 2021

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

    "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.

    March 25th, 2021

  • Why Many White Men Love Trump’s Coronavirus Response

    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.

    October 29th, 2020

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

    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."

    October 8th, 2020

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

    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.

    September 3rd, 2020

  • Democratic Presidential Candidates Disagree On Mandatory Gun Buyback

    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.

    September 13th, 2019

  • White Nationalists Pose Challenge to Investigators

    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.

    August 5th, 2019

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

    "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.

    July 18th, 2019

  • Dying of Whiteness

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

    May 17th, 2019


M.D., University of Missouri-Kansas City

Ph.D., University of Michigan


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