Roughly two-thirds of all firearm-related fatalities are suicides. Meanwhile, three-thirds of all firearm-related fatalities are routinely used to justify new gun control laws.
Anti-gunners routinely lump suicides in with homicides to push their gun control agenda, nevermind that suicide is something someone does to themselves and, therefore, incredibly hard to prevent. Also, nevermind that even if you made all guns vanish, you’d still have suicides.
However, it’s probably a good idea for the firearm community to do what it can to combat suicide, even if for only the cynical reason for undermining our opponents’ talking points.
A group in Missouri is asking gun stores to help it fight those suicides.
Grassroots organizations are working across Missouri to persuade gun-related business owners to join efforts to limit access to guns or encourage safe storage for potentially suicidal customers.
One of the initiatives, Safer Homes Collaborative, sends part-time field coordinators to hundreds of gun shops, pawn shops and firearms training facilities across the state. The coordinators, who are gun owners themselves, ask the retailers to display educational materials and provide temporary storage of firearms. The retailers also are asked to complete a one-hour training to identify potentially suicidal customers and delay the sale of a gun or encourage safe storage.
With gun safety a hot button political issue across the country, coordinators say some people are suspicious of their work, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
“The perception is that this is gun control,” said Katie Ellison, the collaborative’s director. “Another challenge falls under the fear and stigma categories. They say, ‘I’m here to sell a firearm, I’m not a mental health professional. This is not my expertise.’”
And it’s a fair cop. After all, these are business owners or employees. They get paid for selling guns, not for not selling them. They also aren’t psychologists or psychiatrists. Why are they to make a judgment?
Yet, let’s also be honest here. Gun store employees refuse to sell guns to people who strike them as sketchy all the time. How is this any different?
Of course, the thing is, it’s easy for a group to say they’re not anti-gun. Hell, Moms Demand Action claims it’s not anti-gun, for crying out loud. Yet in this case, it seems to be the truth.
Joe Gilbert, who manages a gun shop in Columbia, was skeptical when he was approached about the Safer Homes Collaborative last winter. The coordinator who visited his store, Kurt Dudenhoeffer, asked Gilbert to post educational material containing 10 rules of safe gun handling written by the National Shooting Sports Foundation. But the group adds an important 11th suggestion: Consider temporarily storing a weapon somewhere outside the home if someone living there may be suicidal.
Gilbert said he joined the effort after his research found the Safer Homes Collaborative didn’t lobby, legislate or protest. Eventually he became a board member, took the training and is now a trainer to help others spot potentially suicidal customers.
Honestly, this isn’t a bad thing. For one, it may well help save lives. It might just save a few, and even if that’s all it saves, it would be worth it.
It will help reduce the number of suicides in the state–and, if this spreads out nationally, the reduction would spread as well–and also help us preserve our Second Amendment rights. All without infringing on anyone’s rights.