NRA Caves on Soldiers’ Firearms Freedom

 

“With nearly half of all suicides in the military having been committed with privately owned firearms, the Pentagon and Congress are moving to establish policies intended to separate at-risk service members from their personal weapons.” That sounds reasonable. Until you think about it. If “nearly half” of soldiers who commit suicide don’t use privately owned firearms, why isn’t the military focusing on the methodology used by the majority? Also, did you catch the word “intended” (not much confidence there) and the passive use of the word separate (without revealing who’s doing the separation and how). Exhibit C: the article appears in the New York Times, one of our least favorite bastions of gun rights. So, a message to the troops and the NRA: this not the psychological help you’re looking for. To wit . . .

As suicides continue to rise this year, senior Defense Department officials are developing a suicide prevention campaign that will encourage friends and families of potentially suicidal service members to safely store or voluntarily remove personal firearms from their homes.

“This is not about authoritarian regulation,” said Dr. Jonathan Woodson, the assistant secretary of defense for health affairs. “It is about the spouse understanding warning signs and, if there are firearms in the home, responsibly separating the individual at risk from the firearm.”

Dr. Woodson, who declined to provide details, said the campaign would also include measures to encourage service members, their friends and their relatives to remove possibly dangerous prescription drugs from the homes of potentially suicidal troops.

When it comes to defending Constitutional rights, words mean so much. For example, how does one “responsibly separate” an at-risk individual from a firearm? And where does Uncle Sam get off enlisting friends and family to confiscate firearms from soldiers’ homes? What is that if not gun confiscation by proxy?

[Note: removing guns from a soldier’s access is not one of those “friends don’t let friends drive drunk” deals. Driving is not a civil right. This campaign is more akin to the government asking friends and family to make sure that their friends and family are intelligent enough to vote. Or speak at a public meeting.]

Hey! Where’s the NRA in all this?

In another step considered significant by suicide-prevention advocates, Congress appears poised to enact legislation that would allow military mental health counselors and commanders to talk to troops about their private firearms. The measure, which is promoted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, would amend a law enacted in 2011 that prohibited the Defense Department from collecting information from service members about lawfully owned firearms kept at home.

The 2011 measure, part of the Defense Authorization Act and passed at the urging of the National Rifle Association, was viewed by many military officials as preventing commanders and counselors from discussing gun safety with potentially suicidal troops. But the N.R.A. said that the provision was a response to efforts by Army commanders to maintain records of all the firearms owned by their soldiers.

Careful. The Defense Authorization Act doesn’t prevent the Defense Department from asking about guns. It bars them from collecting information about soldiers’ private arsenals. As well it should; all government agencies are barred from maintaining ANY firearms registration under the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act (FOPA):

No such rule or regulation prescribed after the date of the enactment of the Firearms Owners Protection Act may require that records required to be maintained under this chapter or any portion of the contents of such records, be recorded at or transferred to a facility owned, managed, or controlled by the United States or any State or any political subdivision thereof, nor that any system of registration of firearms, firearms owners, or firearms transactions or disposition be established.

The “you can ask but not note” system was a bit clunky— trusting the Army to ask about soldiers’ guns and not register is a bit like trusting Brooklyn Decker to do your taxes. But that’s the way it was. Now, oh dear.

The new amendment, part of the defense authorization bill for 2013 that has been passed by the House of Representatives but not by the Senate, would allow mental health professionals and commanders to ask service members about their personal firearms if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others.

“We’re O.K. with the commanding officer being able to inquire,” said Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the N.R.A., “but they can’t confiscate.”

So, under the new act, military officials can have a conversation with a potentially suicidal soldier about weapons, ammunition and location and make records of the responses. And ask friends and family to do their the dirty work of confiscation perform a life-saving “firearms intervention.”

File this one under “something must be done even if sets a bad precedent and violates gun rights.” Equally, at the risk of seeming callous, is this a solution in search of a problem?

Suicides in the military rose sharply from 2005 to 2009, reaching 285 active duty service members and 24 reservists in 2009. As the services expanded suicide prevention programs, the numbers leveled off somewhat in 2010 and 2011.

But this year, the numbers are on track to outpace the 2009 figures, with about 270 active duty service members, half of them from the Army, having killed themselves as of last month.

According to Defense Department statistics, more than 6 of 10 military suicides are by firearms, with nearly half involving privately owned guns. In the civilian population, guns are also the most common method of suicide among young males, though at a somewhat lower rate.

So roughly 30 percent of some 400 soldiers who commit suicide do so with a privately owned gun (theirs?). I make that 120 soldiers out of 565,463 active Army personnel.

For that Uncle Sam should trample on FOPA (again, still), allow the military to poke its nose into soldiers’ Second Amendment rights and encourage civilians to confiscate privately held weapons from soldiers according to criteria determined by the U.S. Military? And what about the law of unintended consequences?

In the Department of Veterans Affairs, mental health counselors and suicide hot line agents routinely encourage suicidal veterans to store their guns or give them to relatives. But the issue remains difficult, with concerns that some veterans avoid mental health care because they fear their firearms will be confiscated.

“It is sensitive,” said Jan Kemp, the department’s national suicide prevention coordinator. “We don’t in any way want to imply that we would want to take people’s right to bear firearms away.”

Too bad Kemp’s COs, the Congress and the NRA don’t see the connection between their proposed proactive policy and making the problem of soldiers’ mental health worse. [h/t Dan Baum]

comments

  1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

    Right. Because this will be much more effective than actually doing something about the cause of these suicides (long and frequent rotations in the sandbox).

    1. avatar jim says:

      Make that re-rotations to the sandbox of troops who are diagnosed as having severe issues. In this, the DoD is in step with the VA, whose policy is that there is NO SUCH THING as a service-related psychological issue. Vets only have non-service related drug and alcohol issues.

      1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

        “Vets only have non-service related drug and alcohol issues.”
        ——
        Of course. Everyone knows that the stress of combat and family separation could never be linked to depression. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

    2. avatar Anon in CT says:

      Except that the number of deployed troops is way less than half of what it was 5 years ago, and suicides are up? Let’s look for some other factors (i.e. being deployed to fight a war that the President doesn’t want to win).

      1. avatar Loyd says:

        I’m going to lean more towards a decade of repeated deployments (regardless of who’s president) and a failed-to-non-existent support structure when they return. Take a look at Madigan Army Medical Center at Ft Lewis.

        http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madigan_Army_Medical_Center#section_3

        1. avatar JC says:

          Except that suicide rates in the Army as a whole are just as high among Soldiers who have NEVER deployed. There are numerous sources for this including my own experiences as a commander. Even the the NY Times admitted that in one of their exposes on the DODs failed suicide policies. Soldiers who have never deployed also represented the largest increase in suicides this year.

    3. avatar Totenglocke says:

      Nevermind the fact that the only reason the government gives a crap about people committing suicide is that they lose tax revenue or, if you work the government, another cog in their machine.

      1. avatar JC says:

        Except that, and there are numerous sources for this including my own experiences as a commander, that suicide rates in the Army as a whole are just as high among soldiers who have NEVER deployed. Even the NYT admitted that in one of their exposes on the DODs failed suicide policies. Soldiers who have never deployed also represented the largest increase in suicides this year.

        1. avatar LTC F says:

          Exactly right…there are statistically almost as many suicides among Soldiers who have never deployed as among those who have. Also Soldiers with only one deployment are more likely to commit suicide than those with three or more deployments. Suicide rates are also higher among support MOSs (Military Occupational Specialty) than among combat arms.

          We’ve tried all kinds of screening and questionaires. When I came back from my first OIF deployment my boss and I (I was a Battalion XO then) were both deemed high risk based on we had kids born while we were deployed, we both owned guns, and we both participated in high risk hobbies (in my case I had a boat, in his case he had a motorcycle).

          I don’t know what the answer is. I wish I did.

        2. avatar Totenglocke says:

          Uhm….I’m not sure what that had to do with my post about why the government is against suicide.

    4. avatar HAVE GUN says:

      “Right. Because this will be much more effective than actually doing something about the cause of these suicides (long and frequent rotations in the sandbox).”

      Cute, but irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    5. avatar Mikeb302000 says:

      It’s the prescription medications that are to blame more than anything. As in the rest of the country, this is a major problem in the military.

      Of course, suicidal people should be disarmed. Fuck the bullshit arguments about rights and privacy. This is a matter of life and death and whatever steps could be taken should be.

      1. avatar smwlce says:

        of course its the military, so there’s no rights or privacy anyways 😀

  2. avatar John E> says:

    This regulation does not just apply to guns, it also addresses access to prescription drugs, and whether the individual has a plan.

    If a person in couseling evidences symptoms of PTSD, depression, mood swings etc., it is always important for the counselor to do an inventory of the individuals mental state. Are they contemplating suicide, do they have a plan, do they have access to the tools to carry out the plan. I.e., I am going to hang myself. I am going to go home, get a length of rope from the garage and throw it over the rafter. I am going to go home, open my safe and put a gun in my mouth. At that point you do an involuntary 36 hr commitment (at least in PA) and evaluate the person more closely. But with depression, it is always good to limit access.

  3. avatar Bill F says:

    “We don’t in any way want to imply that we would want to take people’s right to bear firearms away.”

    Right. We don’t want to imply it. We just want to take people’s right to bear firearms away.

  4. avatar jwm says:

    Just as when you’re charged with and arrested for a crime there are times when your rights are amended or put aside for the good of the community. Saying that you cannot inquire about or encourage the removal of firearms from a potentially suicidal person, regardless of their position in the community, is irresponsible.

    I am as pro 2a as anybody. I’m a single issue voter, my guns. But there are moments when a person should give up their guns, at least temporarily, for their own safety and the safety of those around them.

    I’m not in anyway advocating a permanent loss, or even a long term, loss of 2a rights. And this needs to be coupled with treatment for the effected person.

    1. avatar Derek Dauma says:

      And I think people have a Right to self determination.

      Maybe explains why I live here and you live there.

      1. avatar jwm says:

        suicide by gun is not clean and clinical, such as Robinson in “Soylent Green”. I do think that suicide should be legal and supervised by a Doctor.

        The reason I’m advwerse to suicide by gun is the adverse effect it has on others around you. I once heard and responded to the screams, along with all the other men in our complex, of a 10 yo girl who was the one to find her uncle after he had killed himself in the families apartment while the family was out.

        None of us noticed the shot but we sure heard that girls screams. That girl would be an adult now and if she votes what do you think she votes anti gun? I’d be willing to bet on it.

        Self determination is a great slogan if you live in a cave as a hermit. The rest of us have to try and make a crowded less than perfect socirty work.

    2. avatar Rambeast says:

      “I’m not in anyway advocating a permanent loss, or even a long term, loss of 2a rights.”

      This line of thought is how disarmament and enslavement begins. People have the ability and right to decide their fate. If they determine that it’s not worth the pain or mental stress to continue living, then respect their wishes and honor their memory.

      If you want to get to the heart of this issue, then look at what they have to deal with and enact change there. No man or woman in their right mind will want to violate the rights of any other. Propaganda that makes them think they are doing the right thing by exacting revenge for 9/11 and other events while not understanding what lead up to them, will only keep you going for so long. Eventually you will ask yourself “What am I doing. Is this right?”

    3. avatar MD Matt says:

      I have to respectfully disagree. As with any argument about 2a, the responsibility for action comes down to the individual and not the tool in question. Every discussion on the subject I’ve seen says that suicides occur independent of means. So while taking the gun away may theoretically protect someone else, it doesn’t protect the individual, which is kind of the issue here.
      If someone has…
      “Reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others.”
      Then we have two major issues. First, if soldier X has serious mental problems, then the solution is to address the illness and not the symptoms. Removing the gun does not remove the risk; it simply pushes the individual to seek alternate means. The issue is to get the person help and not to take away their civil liberties.
      Which nicely segways into my second point. Who determines what are “reasonable grounds” and “high risk?” Family members, friends, and associates who haven’t seen the individual for six months during which time he has likely undergone a variety of experiences that they have no way to relate too? If being combat deployed didn’t change an individual then I’d be worried. But this kind of thinking puts the Burdon of diagnosis on unqualified lay people. That’s not just bad because of the obvious problems, but because it means that people who have simply changed their outlook on life and who aren’t at risk will get caught up in the fervor. Using the author’s math, that’s aprox 124 firearms related deaths vs. 500,000 serving military. That’s less than .03%. The death toll is unacceptable. But the risk to the other 499,876 serviceman who aren’t experiencing these issues is all out of proportion to this problem.
      Finally, let’s look at the FT Hood shooting. A bunch of troops were cornered in a room with a guy holding two FN fivesevens. People died because the military thought the better course was to leave them unarmed. That philosophy is evident here as well. Guns are not the problem. Taking them away won’t solve anything. If there’s an epidemic of service-related deaths, then we need to determine and address the route cause of that trend and provide both preventative and curative solutions. This policy does neither and seeks to further institutionalize the disarmament of people who deserve our trust and support.

  5. avatar ST says:

    Correction-for most military members there is no Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Only a Chain of Command-sponsored privilege . As such its subject to cancellation without prior notice for any number of arbitrary reasons.It’s not right or fair, but that’s the status quo in the modern military.

    Due to the fact that military members are subject to lawful orders of their superior officers, there’s not much the NRA can do about the military infringing on the rights of its own members.

    Case in point:In 2006, the Commander for Army Bases Alaska unilaterally banned legal concealed carry off post for Soldiers under his command. Link to the story here:
    http://armsandthelaw.com/archives/2006/03/alaska_army_com.php

    The policy wasn’t rescinded until 2011 when the FY11 NDAA specifically removed the DoD’s authority to regulate otherwise legal firearm useage. The 2011 Reversal letter from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson is here:

    http://www.usarak.army.mil/2eng/WEBSITE/PolicyLetters/Repeal%20of%20Concealed%20Firearm%20Policy.pdf

    To illustrate just how restrictive gun control is in the modern day Department of Defense, at my last base every firearm on post has to be registered and keeping a gun loaded for home defense in Base Housing is illegal.

  6. avatar Aharon says:

    Why are we in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere?
    Because we were attacked.
    Why were we attacked?
    Because we meddle in the affairs and lands of others.
    Why do we meddle in the affairs and lands of others?
    Because we are an imperial empire ruled by an elitist class, and not a true democratic-republic honoring the Founding Father’s values, insights, moral principles, and vision for America.

    I’d like to see America return to its roots and go semi-isolationist and stop behaving like an imperial empire with an arrogant foreign policy and frequent use of the military.

    1. avatar Derek Dauma says:

      + Infinity.

      1. avatar Aharon says:

        Thank you. I really appreciate many of those who comment at TTAG. Most pro-gun blogs and the people that comment are pro-macho American military intervention and can’t see beyond the hand in front of their face.

    2. avatar R. Tam says:

      People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.

      1. avatar Rambeast says:

        +1 for the Firefly reference.

        1. avatar Aharon says:

          River is adorable. I saw a photo of her outside of Firefly and she is a strikingly beautiful woman. I own the DVD series and it includes a few episodes that never aired on TV.

      2. avatar Aharon says:

        I was actually thinking about River’s use of the word ‘meddle’ that we shouldn’t tell others what to do and how to live etc when I wrote my original comment.

        Wow! Now I get your online nic. It went over my head at first.

    3. avatar Rambeast says:

      Our chances of returning to such a state went out the window when Ron Paul was ostracised by his own party, and the mindless followers of the Republican party line. Apparently the US at large does not want to hear the truth about our elected officials’ involvement in violating the sovreignty of nations across the globe, and the coalition forming of the “haves” against the “have nots”.

      1. avatar Aharon says:

        Agreed. In America’s case, fewer and fewer people in our society will be among the ‘haves’ in the future though they will probably continue supporting their messiah leaders (democrat or republican). The leaders of both criminal parties are bankrupting America and creating a huge poverty indebted-class of serfs with paper-thin rights and liberties.

        1. avatar Michael B. says:

          What meddling led to us being attacked by Al-Qaeda? They claim it was because we were in Saudi Arabia. Newsflash: we were invited in by the legitimate government of Saudi Arabia. Bin Laden got butthurt about not being allowed to protect SA from the Iraqis with his ill-equipped radical fighters and resented the US even more than he had before because of the Saudis snubbing him.

          We were attacked by a group inspired by a lunatic who held no legitimate claims on any nation or spoke for any government. They were and still are certifiably bat**** religious extremists who use terroristic methods and tactics in an effort to try to force the West out of whatever country we’re fighting them in so they can takeover and establish a new base of operations. This is all part of their desire to establish a new caliphate. Anyway, theirs is a global mission and they are, at their core, imperialists who have been prevented from moving up the scale of warfare from terrorism > guerilla warfare > conventional warfare by us kicking the **** out of them.

          If you want to gripe about meddling, NATO aiding and abetting the Islamist rebels in the various countries that experienced the “Arab Spring” was the worst and most incompetent meddling that has taken places in decades (aside from the Iraq War).

          Anyway, my issue with you Paulites is that you’d have us believe that EVERY sort of American intervention in another country’s affairs is foolhardy, even when invited in. Had people that thought this way been in charge during the Cold War there’s a good chance the whole affair would’ve dragged on much longer and cost millions more lives in the communist sphere of influence.

          I have many issues with the way we’re handling things around the world, the military industrial complex, etc. But to say that we were attacked by Al-Qaeda because we were meddling is crap. They were the ones that were meddling in countries that they were kicked out of by their legitimate governments.

        2. avatar MD Matt says:

          That’s not actually what’s being said here. 9-11 didn’t happen because of American interventionism it’s true. It happened because a few radical individuals with an anti—Western agenda struck at what they perceive as the largest symbol of Western ideals (namely the United States.) I don’t think anyone is saying that there is a direct causal relationship between our international policy and 9-11.
          What is being said is that the United States has consistently pursued foreign policy objectives through the use of invasive military action. That’s been true in Asia, South and Central America, and the Middle East. Regardless of whether meeting those objectives benefits us in the short term, it continues to give credence to those radicals who point to Western imperialism as a motivating factor for recruitment and funding. We spend a lot of money solving other peoples’ problems which may or may not have a direct impact on the United States. More over, our willingness to jump in there with our military means that we are now one of only three (possibly four if one wishes to count India) super powers with global military influence.
          The United States isn’t liked much abroad, but it’s the first country asked to contribute its troops when problems arise on the international stage. Hell, the Libyan air campaign wouldn’t have been possible without our forces. Check some of the available references and you’ll see that nobody in that area could have even fielded a fractional force capable of upholding the no-fly zone. When’s the last time China or Russia significantly contributed to an international intervention?
          Other countries hate us for our foreign policy because we really do think very little of foreign sovereignty. How many Afghani civilians have been killed by our drone strikes? And those people are supposed to like us because the nominally legitimate government (which wouldn’t exist without our support) tolerates us?
          What I and others like me are saying is that we’re tired of seeing our lives, dollars, and reputation spent in pursuit of other people’s goals. It isn’t helping. Why don’t we do something about our Southern border? Because it’s not good form to fortify portions of the border with one of our allies. That’s the inherent contradiction that needs to be resolved before I’ll be ok with us being in Afghanistan and the like. We as a nation need to stop putting ourselves in penury for the sake of an international community which declines to share that Burdon while roundly censuring us for having the temerity to be a free country.

        3. avatar Accur81 says:

          @ Aharon and Rambeast

          I definitely hear you to some extent – George W. and Obama have spent lots of money on mysterious war efforts.

          The flip side is that Republicans like Scott Walker and Paul Ryan are part of the budget balancing process. Check them out some before you cross Republicans entirely off your list.

      1. avatar Aharon says:

        Michael B,

        So what that the evil ‘King’ of SA invited in the USA? Why should America play world cop? Is the SA royal ruling family (thats better than your term legitimate government!) in SA any more legit than the Taliban or Hussein was?

        The USA has been meddling since forever. We committed wars of conquest against the Native Americans to include genocide. Are you saying US involvement in Korea and Vietnam wasn’t meddling? Be my guest if you want to die for those countries. What about the US ruling the Philippines for about 50 years?

        The US meddles with committing cultural, economic, political, and military imperialism. Things are now starting to change fast with the USA losing its power and influence while others gain power and influence.

        America is imploding from within while the liberal fascists and conservative fascists continue playing global military cop in support of their New World Order.

    4. avatar smwlce says:

      + infinity (2x)

  7. avatar fcp503 says:

    Hmm I smell a logical fallacy here. I.E. someone determined to take their own life will be prevented from doing so if there are no firearms handy. Not buying.

    Now if I have a friend that was suicidal, I would also offer to hold on to them. Friends don’t take each others stuff, they take care of one another.

    1. avatar Derek Dauma says:

      Doesn’t the Conventional Wisdom on suicides say that they are means independent?

      1. avatar Loyd says:

        I’ve always heard this.

  8. avatar Loyd says:

    We’re talking about soldiers coming home with severe psychological trauma from years of repeated deployments, being “supported” by a DoD and VA with almost no ability/resource/shits-to-give about helping them deal with their demons. Not simple cowardice on the battlefield, TYVM.

    1. avatar Moonshine7102 says:

      You’ll have to excuse matt. I’ve never met someone so sure that they knew everything there was to know about the military, yet hadn’t walked even a meter in boots.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        yet hadn’t walked even a meter in boots

        Sure he has. But they were Uggs, and he looked soooo fetching.

  9. avatar Loyd says:

    Suicides are a runaway problem for the Army especially, and no one has any good ideas about how to stop it. The Army has tried many programs to stop the trend. Some worked better than others. But this is a step in the wrong direction.

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      Soldiers are being deployed for too long, they are ordered to do things they know are wrong, and the brass couldn’t give 2 sh!ts about their well being. The only concern for the brass is that their recruits do as they’re told without question. I am often asked why I am anti military/authority…when I give them such examples, I am called an anti-patriot when in fact I am more patriotic than they would ever believe.

      The BS has to stop, and American citizens need to take a cold hard impartial look at what this nation has become. Only then can change be a possibility.

      1. avatar Aharon says:

        They are calling you an anti-patriot for refusing to be a purple-belly-crawling obedient sheeple to those who are moral traitors to our once-free republic? You are the real patriot.

        I respect and honor the laws and values of the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. I do not respect and honor politicians, government officials and employees, and members of the military who are liberal fascists and conservative fascists.

        1. avatar Michael B. says:

          While I do not worship the soldier and definitely not the police officer or any other agent of the state, and more often than not loathe them, you do a great disservice to history when you casually throw around the term “fascist” especially when you preface it with “liberal” and “conservative.”

          Leftists and conservatives are authoritarian by their very nature but they are not fascists. There is no such thing as a liberal or conservative fascist. Fascists are a bunch of jingoistic, nationalistic hyper-violent collectivist thugs.

        2. avatar Aharon says:

          Mike B,

          You obviously have a much lower appreciation for liberty and freedom than I do. I am not casually throwing those terms around. I see them for what they are today as the willing and knowing ushers into an even bleaker future. No such thing as a liberal or conservative fascist? Is the future that unclear to you?

        3. avatar smwlce says:

          you really dont know what a fascist is.

          They wear masks to appeal to the public or their respective constituents, such as “liberal/conservative/republican/democrat”, though they are part of the same corrupt paradigm that consists of merged state and corporate power…the antithesis of a federal, constitutional representative republic. That is what highlights America as truly fascist/statist/authoritarian. Hmmmm…i guess Rome bears similarities after all.

          Personal liberties? they take and leave what they want. If you dont like what they do, you can write a letter to them and tell them to behave themselves; they will promptly tell you to f–k off and you will scurry away back to your 9-5, M-F routine, barely making ends meet, while more and more of your economic and personal liberty is taken away.

    2. avatar Skyler says:

      Suicide rates are consistent with the general population of young men. It’s a problem, but it’s not like the military is causing it.

      1. avatar ThomasR says:

        This +1

  10. avatar Skyler says:

    Back in the day, Gen Patton almost lost his command despite being one of the most effective commanders in our history all because he was a moron and slapped a soldier who was suffering from combat fatigue.

    PTSD is, in my opinion, over diagnosed and is used to make those of us in the military look universally crazy, but it is nonetheless a real problem for those who actually do suffer from it.

    My Marines are often very young and usually quite mature and sound decision makers in their lives for most things. However, there are many young men who are very troubled and have no other support in their lives when they encounter those days that most of us have at some point in our lives too.

    I see a lot of potential for abuse here, and I’ve been in commands that I wouldn’t trust with that kind of power. But mostly I’ve seen commanders very concerned with their men and do what is right to help their Marines.

    It’s the military, it’s not civil society. There is a difference.

    1. avatar Michael B. says:

      Every man has their breaking point and for some it’s a lot lower than others. I’d be interested to know how much of the depression these troops suffer is from regretting joining the military in the first place. Or how much is the result of complete and utter boredom and being away from home?

    2. avatar Michael B. says:

      Wasn’t the guy he slapped just sick, like with an actual physical infection, rather than suffering from combat fatigue?

      1. avatar Greg Camp says:

        Malaria, if memory serves.

      2. avatar Michael B. says:

        Wikipedia says Private Charles Kuhl had malaria.

  11. avatar gabba says:

    RF your bad logic is showing. you’re taking “With nearly half of all suicides in the military having been committed with privately owned firearms…” to mean that the other portion is by entirely by military owned firearm. there are more than 2 ways to commit suicide so if suicide by privately owned firearm is nearly half than it probably is the most popular method. this fallacy is called a false dichotomy

    1. avatar Rambeast says:

      I think you are reading the wording of the NYT article as RF’s words.

    2. avatar Bill F says:

      This is how The Times worded it: “According to Defense Department statistics, more than 6 of 10 military suicides are by firearms, with nearly half involving privately owned guns”.
      It’s vague, but I’m getting that the “nearly half” is referring to suicides by firearm–supporting Robert’s logic. But again, the wording is ambiguous.

  12. avatar Hal says:

    “This is not about authoritarian regulation”

    Also Defense Authorization Act be damned. The first question I usually get asked when registering my vehicle at a new post is ” do you have any privately owned weapons?”

    Then the MP’s lock those weapons up until they’ve been registered on post. Only after the post is tracking the make, model and SN of every weapon you own do you get them back again. The Army will f*ck a Commander’s career hard if he/she violates the tiniest environmental regulation imaginable (the EPA holds every other agency and department in the Federal Government hostage at the end of a gun) but the Army ROUTINELY trampled the rights of its Soldiers.

    On a separate EPA note my Agency built a million dollar indoor firing range a couple decades ago. One year after it was completed the EPA created new regulations related to lead and forced us to cease its use. So for about 20 years now it has been the most expensive storage building one can imagine. Cheers.

    1. avatar Mike says:

      Maybe this is why the army has a higher suicide rate, they don’t give a s&$@ about their soldiers. When they have a front page article in the army times about toxic leadership then firearms are not the problem.

  13. avatar Gyufygy says:

    Plan ahead: I certainly hope no firearms owners (or anyone, for that matter) has to deal with suicidal depression, but since that isn’t going to happen, I really think owners need to come up with a plan beforehand. We have Living Wills for if we are ever unable to make medical decisions for ourselves. Some states put legal force behind Living Wills for psychological situations (they usually have another name, can’t think of it). Think beforehand about what you’d like done with your guns if you were ever to be suicidal.

    I have problems with depression, and I have been suicidal. To me, striving to be a responsible firearms owner means covering this eventuality, having a plan of what I want done with my guns if I become a more immediate threat to myself than anything else. In my experience and research, suicide is definitely means-independent, but I don’t want to tempt fate (or myself) at that point. Everyone’s different, but I figure it’s worth giving at least a minute’s thought.

  14. avatar إبليس says:

    Enter the medical-therapeutic state. Bypassing your hard-rights for “your health” and “well-being.”

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Political_abuse_of_psychiatry_in_the_Soviet_Union

  15. avatar LTC F says:

    Fort Hood is on a big gun safety kick (after the famous hiccup cure a couple weeks ago, and of course the work place violence allegedly committed by MAJ Nadal Hassan after consulting with his Al Qaeda spiritual adviser).

    I usually answer questions related to privately owned firearms with some variation of “Sir if I did own firearms, and I am not saying I do or do not, I would not bring them on post, and therefore they would not be subject to registration on post.”

  16. avatar Michael Christenbury says:

    The country that has the highest suicide rate is Japan, where guns are illegal!! People who want to end their lives will find a way no matter what laws you pass, so don’t restrict the rights of others! By the way I would never use a firearm to commit suicide it is too easy to survive while being horribly maimed and it is an extremely painful way to go when there are many ways to do it that work better and don’t cause so much pain. Not that I would ever commit suicide, that is the cowards way out and yes I have suffered from depression in the past and have continued to live my life despite the depression (although I have eaten a lot of Haagen Daz).

  17. avatar anon says:

    I was going to read all the posts below but, …

    I keep thinking about giving a 17 year old a weapon (GUN, tank, or other means) and march them to a position to fire and kill enemy then, make sure I take that away after you get back, lol. Yep that can really happen in today’s military. There is no debate for common sense humans.

  18. avatar JAFO says:

    Many returning military feel alienated or left out of the rights they fought for. Taking away more just makes
    it worse. Fix the V.A and address the real problems. I am all for Wounded Warrior and organizations like them, but the VA should be using my tax dollars for that and not million dollar salaries.

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