I hate the term “gun safety.”
I hate it not because of what the words themselves mean–everyone should be in favor of safe guns and safe gun handling–but because of how they’ve been abused and mangled.
These days, when someone launches a “gun safety” group, it’s hard not to cringe. After all, it’s now just a euphemism for gun control.
When it’s founded in Oregon, that goes double.
However, when the American Legion starts talking about it, I start wanting to know a little more, since veterans aren’t generally known for supporting gun control, for the most part.
It seems one Oregon “safety” group is trying to do it right.
Donna-Marie Drucker is the wife of a combat veteran, the daughter of a gunsmith – herself a gun enthusiast – and a member of the American Legion Auxiliary. Part of her background includes hundreds of hours performing crisis intervention.
She’s also the survivor of a youth suicide attempt.
“I share that information for two reasons,” Drucker told The American Legion’s TBI/PTSD/Suicide Prevention Committee on Feb. 26 during the organization’s annual Washington Conference. “One – and I think this is really important for all of us to think about – is that I’ve never had a second attempt. I’ve never even considered ending my life again since that day. And I’m not like a unicorn here. Most people that experience thoughts of suicide or have a suicide attempt never go on to have another one. Almost 70 percent that survive their first attempt never have a second attempt. So getting help and support works.
“However, when firearms are involved, you don’t always get that second attempt. The reason I share my story is because if I’d found my father’s handguns the night that I was struggling … I would have died. It would have been quick. It would have been effective. And to think that I wouldn’t have met my husband, that I wouldn’t have had my children … it’s heavy. I don’t want that for people. That second chance matters.”
So far, I’ll admit that I had concerns. After all, nothing about this screams “we’re going to respect your rights.”
But one has to read a little further.
Drucker is co-founder and executive director of the Oregon Firearm Safety Coalition (OFSC), which is a collaboration of Oregon gun clubs and associations, the state and federal veterans agencies, and other organizations in an attempt to “prevent firearm suicides in Oregon through voluntary community-led strategies.” It’s a non-partisan effort that Drucker stressed does not seek to mandate behaviors or restrict the Second Amendment rights.
Drucker said she grew up in a rural part of the United Kingdom, where guns were “just a normal part of my life. I’m a gun owner. I enjoy my rights to bear arms. I feel very passionate about my gun ownership in a very responsible way. None of this is about taking away guns.
That’s what I want to see.
Look, we’ve got a problem. Suicides account for nearly two-thirds of all firearm fatalities each year. Drucker notes that guns are more effective as a means to suicide than other methods–though it should be remembered that there are other methods that are damn near as efficient–so focusing on these suicides can yield positive results.
Yet the important thing here is that Drucker’s group doesn’t seek to mandate things. It’s a voluntary effort. It’s about helping people through crises.
That’s how you do it.
See, by making it clear people won’t be punished–and yes, taking their guns away is punishment–but will instead get the help they so desperately need.
That’s a refreshing change and appears to be about actual gun safety instead of whatever anti-gun activists have been trying to push for years now.
Mental health issues are real. They’re not because people are weak or they didn’t pray enough or anything else. Sometimes, things beyond your control happen and people need to be able to reach out for help and be able to do so without fear of their guns being taken or anything else of that sort.
It looks like this group might actually being trying to do it right.