John Hinckley, Jr., now 61, the man who attempted to assassinate President Reagan, is being freed from a psychiatric hospital to live full-time with his mother in Virginia. The word came through a federal court order by U.S. District Judge Paul L. Friedman of Washington on Wednesday. Hinckley’s underlying major depression and psychotic disorder are said to be in full remission, as they reportedly have been for the last twenty years.

As I have said before many times, mental illness is one of the two top causes of gun violence. The other is terrorism. Guns themselves are irrelevant.  I believe John Hinckley would have used another potentially lethal weapon to try to kill President Reagan, when he was delusional and violent, had he not used a firearm. 

Mental illnesses like Hinckley’s are more often than not, quite treatable, and it is entirely credible that the symptoms of his illness may now be gone and may never return. 

Psychotherapy, combined with medications, can alleviate profound depression, bipolar disorder and many other conditions. 

Good psychiatric treatment, made properly available, will beat gun control for preventing lethal or near-lethal violence, hands down, period.

Sadly, Hinckley’s treatment came after he wounded the President, shot Press Secretary James Brady in the head and shot two others.

Certainly, it would be foolish not to follow John Hinckley’s clinical condition carefully, being vigilant for any signs of a recurrence of his symptoms.  And it is just as profoundly foolish that we have left our fragmented, sorry excuse for a mental health care system in ruins, with reprehensible cracks big enough for many ill and violent individuals to slip through—often, through no fault of their own.

Let me put it this way, just to underline my point:  I would much rather allow John Hinckley to own a firearm while remaining under rigorous psychiatric treatment and monitoring, than I would to allow him to discontinue psychiatric treatment while remaining unarmed.  (In his case, of course, we need not make the decision).

Good psychiatric treatment, made properly available, will beat gun control for preventing lethal or near-lethal violence, hands down, period. 

Psychiatry can and does, routinely, cure men like John Hinckley.  And it can also prevent events like the one that almost cost us one of the greatest presidents of all time.

Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatrist and member of the Fox News Medical A-Team.