|Must be strange, selling guns to people who are more likely to use them against themselves than against an intruder. Voluntarily, and temporarily, restricting access to firearms during a suicidal crisis shouldn't be a controversial position.|
Science of Us
“More than half of all suicides in the United States are carried out with a firearm, and gun suicides make up the majority of fatal shootings,” writes Ewing. “In 2015, nearly two-thirds of all gun-related deaths in the country were by the shooter’s own hand, according to an analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
The NSSF and AFSP, whose collaboration was highlighted in a recent JAMA article, are focusing on people who are in the midst of mental-health crises. As a bunch of research has shown, suicide is a more impulsive act than many people realize — there are plenty of cases in which it really can be life-saving to temporarily cut someone off from access to a deadly tool like a gun. This initiative is “intended to educate gun shop owners and shooting range operators on the risk factors and warning signs of suicide, and to provide guidance for family members who wish to restrict access to firearms from a loved one in crisis.” Part of the hope is that word will then filter down from these trusted voices to gun owners themselves, making the entire gun-owning community safer and better informed.
The phrase “harm reduction” doesn’t come up in Ewing’s piece, but that’s exactly what this is: a measure designed to accept that we live in a flawed world that isn’t going to change anytime soon, and to improve public health to the extent possible given the constraints imposed by reality. “This initiative is starting with the reality that guns are in one-third of American homes so, given that, what can they do to keep someone safe?” Christine Moutier, chief medical officer for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Ewing. “We’re simply saying have that caring conversation that should include offering to help them secure their firearms temporarily if they’re having this crisis.” In other words: The best way to reduce gun suicides would be to have fewer guns floating around, but since that isn’t going to happen anytime soon (maybe ever, in this country), what else can be done to help keep people safe?"