The issue of suicide is a terrible one. It’s something that, at least in theory, we should all support trying to find a way to address. However, we typically can’t because some people think gun control is the answer.
As a result, rather than addressing the fact that some people develop the feeling that their families would be better off without them, we’re focusing on just one tool people use to take their own lives.
And then we have people like these writers, whose headline argues that we’re not even talking about suicides at all: “Suicide leads gun-related deaths. Why don’t we mention it when talking about gun control?”
For Republicans in Congress, the rise in deadly gun violence has so far been insufficient to trigger any sort of meaningful legislative action. The Bipartisan Safer Communities Act aside, our hyperpartisan politics have rendered even commonsense gun safety measures a nonstarter for this GOP.
While Republicans continue to delay, Americans continue to die, with suicide being the nation’s leading cause of gun-related deaths. Since January, nearly 17,000 have died by firearm suicide.
After observing National Suicide Prevention Week, we – one of us a leading advocate for gun violence reduction, the other a survivor of firearm suicide loss – offer that reframing the gun control debate around suicide prevention can help build consensus for commonsense solutions and ultimately save lives.
No, it really can’t.
See, contrary to the headline, the topic of suicide comes up often in the gun control debate. It’s a regular point of contention, as a matter of fact.
You see, the authors, like many gun control advocates, fall into the same trap as those who focus on violent crime as a justification for anti-Second Amendment regulations. They continue to blame the gun and seek to restrict that; as if it’s the only way anyone ever commits an act of violence.
In fact, note that the authors literally say that this is about reframing the existing debate to get gun control. That’s what this is really all about. It’s about pushing anti-gun regulations such as red flag laws and waiting periods, things anti-gunners want in general.
For them, it sure looks like suicide is just an excuse to demand regulations they’d likely support anyway.
What people forget is that while just over half of all suicides, that still leaves nearly half to use some other method. Many of those methods are nearly as “effective” as a firearm. As such, removing a gun from the equation doesn’t necessarily mean anyone’s life will be saved.
Yet things like waiting periods and red flag laws can also cost lives.
Someone who has to wait for a gun may find that they can’t get one when they realize they need it. Having to wait, say, three days may well be three days too long for some. For all the claims of gun owners being paranoid, waiting periods really mean those paranoid people are the only ones who will be saved by having a gun.
Red flag laws have already been used in an attempt to punish people. In Colorado, a woman tried to get a red flag order taken out against the police officer who shot and killed her son in a justified shooting. She claimed to be in a relationship with the man in order to try and get the order. Thankfully, this one was caught, but how many other cases was someone punished by having their guns taken?
The truth is that no one bothers to look.
“But this is about suicides.”
OK, then. Where are these two in advocating for laws that help facilitate people handing their guns to another person when they’re depressed? This is a voluntary thing that people on all sides of the gun debate support, so where are they on this?
Where are they on tax credits for gun safes? That’s another issue that has bipartisan support and would likely reduce gun-related suicides, particularly among teens. Where’s the mention of that?
I will acknowledge that the authors do talk about mental health resources, which I’m glad they did. This is where much of our time and energy should probably go. However, this doesn’t work if red flag laws are in effect.
After all, why would I seek help when I’m depressed if I also need to be concerned that my guns are going to be taken? Red flag orders pretty much always have a component that allows mental health professionals to file such an order, but gun owners may distrust the entire mental health process if they know this is a potentiality.
Cause and effect is a thing, so if the authors are serious about reducing suicides, they need to take a step back and think.
Then again, they’ve already said this was about reframing the gun debate and not about suicides at all.