Two-thirds of all firearm-related fatalities are the result of suicide. This is an inescapable fact and it’s one anti-gunners don’t mind glossing over when it’s convenient. After all, they typically just use the total number of fatalities and hope you won’t look any deeper at the numbers. Most folks aren’t as willing to restrict someone’s rights because of what another does to themselves.
Yet suicide remains a serious and legitimate problem. One thing that gun-grabbers get right is that suicide attempts with firearms are more likely to be fatal than those with other methods.
Which is why there’s been a push to use suicide numbers to justify all manner of legislation.
Now, a Wisconsin bill seeks to create programs for gun stores to be able to combat suicides.
Between the years 2000 and 2017, the Wisconsin suicide rate spiked by 40 percent — 50 percent of which are committed by firearm.
These statistics influenced legislators to create Assembly Bill 527, which aims to combat suicide by firearm by supporting gun retailers in intervening with at-risk customers.
Facilitated by the Department of Health Services, the bill allocates a grant system to gun retailers, allowing them to receive training about assisting customers in crisis. The funding is also intended to help retailers create storage space to house weapons for individuals in crisis.
Modeled after the Safe Storage Program, which was implemented in a gun shop in Dane County by the Gun Shop Project, the bill proposed a statewide program allowing people in crisis to store their firearms with licensed retailers.
Jean Papalia, a former officer with the Madison Police Department leading the charge on the Gun Shop Project, testified on behalf of the bill at a local government committee meeting Tuesday at the Capitol.
Papalia elaborated on how this program provides the tools necessary for firearm retailers to spot a person in crisis to ensure no guns are sold to them. So far, 15 storefronts in Dane County joined the initiative.
When programs like this are private and voluntary, I support them wholeheartedly. I like the idea of gun shops being proactive when they can be as a way to fight suicides, which also has the added benefit of cutting the numbers of total fatalities that anti-gunners try to use as a bludgeon whenever possible.
The problem is that now the bill is looking to get the government involved, and now we’re crossing my comfort threshold.
You see, when the government is involved, the nature of the effort begins to change. It also introduces some potential pitfalls for gun stores, and not necessarily just the ones who take part in the program.
For those who opt to take part, what kind of strings will come attached to those funds? We all know there will be some, after all. There always is. That’s something that gun store owners need to be concerned about before accepting any funds.
Yet those who don’t join the program may well find themselves in a tough spot. How long until someone decides to sue a gun store for selling a gun to a suicidal person and try to use their decision to not take part in a voluntary program as evidence of negligence? Don’t say it won’t happen, either, because it will. I’d like to believe that the courts would throw it out, but I can’t make that assumption for all corners of Wisconsin by any stretch.
While the idea of gun stores working proactively and trying to help combat suicide is a great idea, let’s keep the government out of it.