Handgun_Safe_Protecting_Valuables

The Connecticut-based editorial board of the theday.com has a great idea — let’s lock up guns so that people can’t use them to commit suicide! The article’s title, ‘Agree, at least, to safe gun storage‘ makes it clear that they consider this to be one of those “simple, straight-forward, common-sense” restrictions so beloved of those who favor civilian disarmament. I mean surely we can all agree that reducing suicide rates is a good thing and safe storage laws can hardly be counted as infringements on the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the weapon of your choice. Right? To “prove” their point they offer up lots of facts with very little context. Naturally I feel honor-bound to provide that context . . .

From their very first sentence:

Americans are twice as likely to kill themselves with a gun than[sic] be murdered with a gun used by someone else.

Looking at the CDC’s WISQARS numbers from 2002 – 2011 (and correcting the ed board’s grammar) that should be, “Americans are 1.47 times as likely to kill themselves with a gun as be murdered …” but setting that aside, so what? Americans are 3.35 times as likely to kill themselves without a gun as they are to be murdered with something other than a gun. Indeed, if you were as logically bereft as the writers at theday.com (and not as insufferably hoplophobic), you might be able to use that as a reason to own a gun.

The editorial, failing to make the connection between a lack of guns and a higher rate of non-firearm suicides, continues:

And they are four or five times more likely to use a gun to kill themselves if they live in a gun friendly state like Alaska, Wyoming, Montana or Idaho than in a state with strict gun laws like New Jersey, New York or Connecticut.

Hmm, I wonder how they explain the fact that the four “gun friendly” states have an average non-firearm suicide rate of 7.15 while their “strict” states average rate is 5.06? Not as attention-grabbing as their “four or five times more likely” but still unexplained.

Better yet, let’s look at the suicide rates of some foreign countries, shall we? According to the editorial’s “logic”, Russia, Japan, Canada and the UK should have extremely low suicide rates since they all have extremely tough gun laws, whereas Canada, Switzerland, and Norway, being (relatively) awash with guns, should have higher suicide rates. Oh, wait, Canada is on there twice . . . oops. Anyway, the table pretty well disposes of the whole idea that more guns mean more suicides.

Country[*] Overall Suicide Rate Firearm Suicide Rate Guns per 100 Civilians
Russia 23.44 N/A 8.9
Japan 18.41 0.04 0.6
Canada 11.00 1.79 23.8
UK 11.80 0.15 6.7
Switzerland 13.17 2.68 45.7
Norway 10.59 1.78 31.3
USA 11.38 5.82 101.05
[*] With the exception of US’s suicide rates (which are from the CDC) these numbers are courtesy of GunPolicy.org

Besides, isn’t that the antis’ main complaint against Dr. Lott’s findings…that “correlation ≠ causation” and that the causes of crime are too complex for Dr. Lott’s forty-nine distinct variables to account for, but somehow there is a causative effect between the “gun-friendliness” of a state and its suicide rate?

And as if this kicking around wasn’t enough, there is the simple fact that study after study has shown that while restricting access to firearms may reduce the firearm suicide rate, it has no effect on the overall suicide rate.

Onward we wade through theday.com’s BS:

Matthew Miller, a suicide specialist at Harvard’s Injury Control Research Center, said suicide rates by gun have been higher than murder rates by other means for as long as he can remember.

And accidental deaths from poisoning (9.02/100K) and falls (6.99/100K) are higher than both put together; what’s your point?

This is because people naturally choose a method of suicide by the method’s accessibility and people with guns in their homes are more likely, therefore, to choose a gun.

Oh, so people have to already own a gun before they start thinking suicidal thoughts? No one has ever gone out and bought a gun in order to kill himself[1]? Oh wait, according to Dr. Garen J. Wintemute:

In the first week after buying a gun, the rate of suicide among new gun owners was 57 times as high as the adjusted rate in the general population.

Ah, the joy of dueling antis … Make up your minds, boys; is it the evil Dark Jedi mind-control powers of the firearms that lead people to suicide or is it untreated depression?

Laws requiring guns to be stored securely or equipped with safety locks are common in the northeast but just about nonexistent in the far western states.

Good, now we appear to be getting to the heart of their argument . . . except we aren’t. Teb just kind of throws that statement out there and then ignores it for a couple more paragraphs before trotting out their “supporting” argument:

Suicides are often impulsive, rather than planned. Nearly half of those who survived suicide attempts have testified they tried to kill themselves within 10 minutes of first considering it.

I have to call bullshit on this one. Even if the interviewees didn’t lie (“Why no, I had never thought about harming myself before”), how many of these survivors were exhibiting the classic “cry for help” suicide attempt? Apparently the best that Teb can come up with is:

Stricter gun safety laws result in fewer people impulsively killing themselves with guns. Such laws are not an attack on the Second Amendment, they are sensible health policy.

No, Teb, a sensible public health policy would involve raising public awareness of the symptoms, effects and causes of depression, and educating the public to remove the stigma of depression. A friend of mine had been struggling with depression for years before finally seeking treatment, and even then s/he was ashamed to admit that s/he was on anti-depressants. S/he finally got with a good doctor who, every time she asked s/him about s/his symptoms would emphasize that this was a matter of brain chemistry, not lack of motivation or ambition, or laziness, or stupidity, or something that s/he could just “snap out” of (and yes, my friend’s step-mother actually said that).

Second, yes such laws are an attack on the natural, fundamental, and inalienable human, individual, civil and Constitutional right to own and carry the firearm of your choice; they are just an extremely insidious attack. Teb even mentions in a previous paragraph:

There are those who cite anecdotal evidence that easy access to bedside firearms has saved countless lives of innocents whose homes have been invaded by thieves and other marauders. The truth is, an accessible gun is far more likely to be used by a child or a person suffering from a buildup of depression …

So since self-defense is so rare, we can just go ahead and require guns to be locked up, right? And since you keep your gun(s) locked up the way the law requires then you really can’t use them for self-defense, so you don’t need to keep them in your home, you can just as well store them (locked up) at your shooting club, right? And since everybody’s guns are at the club then you don’t need to be able to buy ammunition anywhere else, right? And since all you ever use them for is target shooting then you don’t need any more than 20 15 10 7 5 3 1 shot, right? Since you only ever need one shot at a time then you certainly don’t need a semi-auto, or a high-capacity six-shooter, right?

But only a tin-foil hatted, black-helicopter, anti-government conspiracy nut would believe all of that, right? Just ask the Irish, who, as of 2009 can no longer get new center-fire handguns. New licenses (which allow you to have a single, specific gun and a limited amount of a single, specific type of ammunition) are only being issued for blank-firing guns (starter pistols), and .22 rim-fire handguns and BB guns (.177 max) which are “designed for use in connection with competitions governed by International Olympic Committee regulations”.

So to theday.com’s editorial board, thank you for your concern, but I think I’ll keep my pistols “safely stored” in holsters, on my person or on my bed (with me next to it).

 

[1] Apologies to TTAG’s own FirearmConcierge who had that exact thing happen to him; see here for how something like that can tear a person up.

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46 Responses to As A Matter of Fact, We Can’t All Agree to ‘Safe Gun Storage’

  1. I have never witnessed a suicide in the US. However, in my 5 years in Japan, I saw 4 people on 3 occasions throw themselves in front of hi-speed trains. The SOP is to stop and clear the meat off the tracks and continue on. If the train is late, the railways (almost all for profit companies) have to pay the companies for the lost wages. I don’t see a train ban in Japan happening at any time.

    • Its sad, but they probably do care because they already banned guns there… your argument is based on the assumption that any of these people actually care about people being murdered or committing suicide. They don’t, they just flat don’t. The only reason anti’s care about murder, violent crime, suicide, etc. is because those are all useful emotional arguments that help them get what they want.

      Heck they befriend hunters to try and get those scary paramilitary AR 15 shooters… do they honestly think hunting is ok or think it is more “ok” for us to have bolts action rifles and lever guns? No they want those gone too, but hunters are, too often, useful idiots that help them push to their end goal just like suicides, wife beaters, dead first graders and so on.

  2. I guess a person bent on suicide would decide against it because it’s in a locked box that he knows the access code for. Facepalm.

    • My thought exactly. If I take MY gun, put a cable lock on it, and then a trigger lock on it, and them store it in a safe unloaded, I STILL HAVE THE KEYS!

    • When “They” continue operating with such stupid and illogical ideas, one cannot help but wonder what the real agenda is.

      The Left keeps saying we’re paranoid. How can we NOT be paranoid when this is what they are throwing at us?

      “Mandatory Safe Storage! To prevent suicides!”

      “Universal Background Checks! To keep criminals from breaking the law!”

  3. I think you missed the most obvious point, which is:

    If I am the owner of the gun, that means I have access to the safe key/combination, correct? So if I want to kill myself, is the extra 10 to 30 seconds required for me to open the safe really going to stop me?

    • No, but maybe, if your safe has dozens of shiny, deadly toys in it, you’ll spend so long trying to decide which one to off yourself with that you decide to try again later when you can make up your mind?
      Probably not, but I’m going to use that as an excuse to fill my safe.

      • That’s a good point. If you have many beautiful weapons to choose from it may inhibit you making a decision.

        Sounds like an argument for owning more guns..

    • “Let’s agree on safe storage”

      “In order to store your guns safely, you have to store them elsewhere”

    • I was going to kill myself the other day, but my 3D printer was going to take 11 hours to print my pistol, so I said ,”fuckit, I’ll go to work.” Maybe we should just make everyone print their own guns? /sarc

  4. “There are those who cite anecdotal evidence that easy access to bedside firearms has saved countless lives of innocents whose homes have been invaded by thieves and other marauders. The truth is…” and then they provide anecdotal evidence that somehow has more weight, even though they back it up with…nothing. At all.

    At least our anecdotes are easy to find and outnumber theirs.

    • One thing to consider are the thousands of times that a home invader has been intimidated or shot with the gun, but not killed.
      Handgun bullets are weak. Very often, the invader will run out after being shot and rush to the hospital where they are picked up by police and booked into jail.

      I honestly believe that happens more often than invaders are killed with the home owner’s gun, but I can’t cite any compiled evidence. Only the thousands of home invasion news articles where the exact situation described happens.

      • Just goes to show. Placement, placement, placement. Repeat fire next, then calibre. But you have to start with situational awareness, and be careful to not misinterpret ambiguous events. Either way, a trial is a lot less arduous to deal with than rape/torture/death. There are a lot of bipedal criminal animals out there, the herd needs thinning out.

        • Sure placement > calibre, but what’s that have to do with criminals getting injured vice killed?

          I have no interest in killing an intruder, just deterring them. Anyone with a preceived intent in killing an intruder vice stopping them is a sick individual.

          Naturally in the course of deterring them you should use whatever force you deem necessary.

      • “I honestly believe that happens more often than invaders are killed with the home owner’s gun, but I can’t cite any compiled evidence. “

        John Lott has remarked on this. Less than 1% of DGU’s involve wounding or killing, and the number for killing is only about 0.1%.

        Source: Transcript of Interview on Ballisic Radio, 4/14/2013

        http://dsbscience.com/ballisticradio/BR20130414_GunFreeZones.php

        PDF if you want to download it:

        http://www.dsbscience.com/download/BR20130414_GunFreeZones.pdf

        Links to the actual podcast listed in the transcript.

  5. My question with the numbers side on the sheet above, IE the suicide and murder rates, are they just percent of population, or are they adjust for raw population numbers? Make the numbers of people in each country the same and then calculate the percentages? I am not suggesting TTAG do it, but the CDC sure should.

  6. Expounding on the previously mentioned access to the safe storage, the only way to reduce suicide by firearm is to effectively ban private ownership of firearms. This point means that suicides MUST be removed from firearms deaths, had helped me convince several antis to reconsider the importance of gun control (I.E. they realized that gun deaths are NOT an epidemic).

  7. Correct me if I’m wrong, but it would seem as though the author wrote this with may assumptions in mind. Assumptions like the lack of any empirical evidence of the number or effectiveness of DGUs, or that anyone would fact-check the author(s). Sad, small-minded, and dishonest is how they come across.

    • This is pretty much standard procedure for main stream liberal media in today’s age. Knowingly leave out any information that would undermine or conflict with the pre-set narrative in hopes to dupe the public under the antiquated notion that the press is objective. These reporters are just like Bernie Madoff, just trying to manage information instead of money, (They are just as evil too. What would you call someone knowingly trying to defraud you?)

  8. Inclusion of suicides in “gun violence” statistics is bogus. If someone wants to kill him/herself, he/she will find a way, whether it is a gun or a rope or poison or a car or a bridge or a……I could go on for a long time. I saw an article about one just the other day where a guy locked one end of a chain around a lamp post and the other end around his neck–then floored the gas in his convertible. Anyone who thinks that bans or “safe storage” laws are a solution to reducing suicides is an idiot. If we are talking about “gun violence” (i.e., guns used for violent purposes) then we must limit the discussion to crime and nothing else.

  9. A gun just happens to be a convenient way to commit suicide.
    But anyone who is intent on killing themselves will find a way regardless.
    So if half the deaths by gun just happen to be suicide. The other 25% or more being gang related violence.
    That leaves in my simple math 25% of deaths gun related which we all is know is too high a number to be accurate so I must be waaaaaay off here with the use of a gun to kill a human.
    You know what I say??
    So what…..Don’t blame the instrument used.
    Blame the tool who wants to end his/her existence.
    I only feel bad for who ever has to clean up the mess afterwards…………and from what I understand.
    Its a pretty high paying cleanup service being provided. Some one has to do it.
    Lets ban anything capable of ending a humans life.
    Wont be much left except to run around naked in the desert then I guess.

  10. Great article Bruce.

    I wonder if this is floated on behalf of some state legislators who are starting to get a bit…nervous… about keeping their jobs. Sort of like that New Jersey pol who drafted the safe gun law who complained that maybe something could be fixed if only the NRA would “negotiate”…

    No. Give them an inch and they take a mile. No more negotiation- sue to fix bad law, vote out the bad law makers, pay money and volunteer for grass roots up lobby groups, and move to another state if necessary to avoid bad laws. Resist by all legal means. It’s working.

    • “We cannot negotiate with people who say what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is negotiable.”

      ― John F. Kennedy

  11. Nearly half of those who survived suicide attempts have testified they tried to kill themselves within 10 minutes of first considering it.

    Next time, the writers from theday.com should ask the ones who didn’t survive.

    I had two friends who committed suicide. One jumped off the roof of the dorm. The other hung himself in his bathroom from a wire. The first was in gun-hating New York City. The latter was in the Gunshine State. Both considered their exits for a long, long time.

    And thanks, Bruce, for another super article.

  12. Problem:
    A significant percentage of people who commit suicide choose to kill themselves with a gun. Suicide is a tragic, desperate act that we are obligated to prevent if we can.
    Agreed.

    Solution:
    A law mandating safe storage of guns. This law will magically cancel out even the darkest depression, forcing everyone who buys a new gun (or currently owns one) to place it in a locked box, from which they will somehow be unable to retrieve it.
    Is this a joke? I thought we were taking this problem seriously.

  13. I most object to the blatantly deliberate implication by the antis that suicide by different means are separate phenomena. The premise behind the “prevent suicide through gun control” meme is that a person who would commit suicide with a gun would be limited to that chosen method regardless of access and would not simply chose another method, executed in such a way that cannot be backed out of. The fact that many nations with much stricter gun control and/or much lower gun ownership rates but much higher suicide rates should be enough to indicate that suicide and gun ownership are completely separate, at best tangentially related, phenomena.

  14. All the liberal nonsense aside, why does anyone beside the friends and family of those who’ve committed suicide care one lick about suicide? These people who “care” so much about the topic don’t know the person, why is it their business? Not to sound incentive but don’t these people have their own lives and families to worry about without involving themselves in the lives of other people that we all know they don’t really care about? I’m personally sick and tired of hearing from these people that I need to be saved from myself. I don’t and even if I did, it would be none of your stinking business.

  15. Also consider the stats on DGUs that are actually phoned in. I know a few fellow gun owners who have drawn or displayed their weapons in self-defense outside the home (parking lot, etc…), and that was enough to scare away the assailant. The guy bolts and heads for the hills.

    They usually didn’t phone it in since two minutes of action kind of isn’t worth calling the cops over especially if no shots were fired and no one was harmed.

    I’m sure there’s thousands of DGUs like that a month. Unfortunately those aren’t counted in statistics.

    As for the suicides, people who really want to kill themselves are going to find a way to do it. If there is no gun handy, they will use a knife or razor. Or jump in front of a bus. Or poison themselves. They aren’t gonna give up on the idea just because they don’t have a gun or the gun is locked.

  16. The statistics are technically true but very misleading. States with low population densities like Alaska have high suicide rate 23.1 and high gun ownership rates 57.8%. States with high population densities have lower rates of suicide 8.2 and gun ownership rates 12.3%. They are trying to insinuate a connection between gun ownership and suicide, but they are ignoring the connection between suicide and population density. Many countries around the world see a correlation between population density and suicide rates, which suggests that it’s the population density that drives suicide rates, not guns

  17. The Canadian experience is that “safe storage” laws get used as a way to penalize gun owners when they use their arms lawfully to defend themselves. In many cases, charges are swiftly dropped for the actual use of the firearm, but unsafe storage charges are pressed on. The prosecution eventually loses in most cases, but the expenses and troubles remain for the lawful gun owner.

    The Ian Thompson case is an excellent example of how safe storage laws can be abused. Mr. Thompson defended his house using a revolver against a bunch of creeps with firebombs. After the crown dropped the charges regarding the use of the gun, they tried to stick him with the safe storage charges. They even timed him with a stopwatch to see if he could have removed his revolver from the safe, removed the trigger lock, obtained the ammunition, and loaded it in the time he claimed. Essentially, the argument was that there was no way it could have been safely stored if he could get it up and running in time. Fortunately, the charges were dropped, but it took several years.

    Do not fall for “safe storage” laws!

    • Guns must be Safely Stored at all times. Even when you are using it. Leave it in the safe and drop the safe on the intruder next time to avoid prosecution for violating Safe Storage laws.

  18. I don’t get all these roundabout measures. If suicide is impulsive and these folks want to reduce suicide, just put a 48 hour waiting period on killing yourself. Problem solved.

    …right?

  19. For god’s sake the substitution effect would take place and the suicide rate would remain the same. Canada and the United States share the same diet of media and video games. Both have similar suicide rates with the difference being the preferred method used:

    http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-Qk3RYyt3xRo/TWFt03wl2uI/AAAAAAAAD20/TF_K-mCMG4k/s1600/zc-percentage-total-suicides-by-method-2000-2003-ca-2007-us.png

    You can find the original article with sources here:

    http://politicalcalculations.blogspot.com/2011/02/us-vs-canada-suicide-edition.html

  20. One day, I went to a friends office at work and I asked him for some Tylenol. He pulled out one of those huge bottles with several hundred pills, and he dispensed a few. A visitor from Britain that was sitting in the office bragged to us how Britain outlawed the sale of Tylenol in quantities greater than 24 tablets to prevent suicides. I asked him how do British people commit suicide now that they have that law. I could see in his eyes that he now understood the stupidity of the law. What difference does it make if they shoot themselves, jump off a building, hang themselves, walk in front of a train, slice their wrists, overdose on a medication, or electrocute themselves with a hair dryer in a bathtub, the result is the same.

  21. http://www.mayoclinic.org/news2013-rst/7739.html)

    Here is a study posted in the HARVARD medical review, at a somewhat anti gun university helping prove that suicides are not such an IMPULSIVE thing.

    Four out of five people who commit suicide have attempted to kill themselves at least once previously. Joiner, Thomas. 2005. Why People Die by Suicide. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  22. http://lostallhope.com/suicide-statistics/us-methods-suicide

    One of the dirty little secrets anti gunners don’t want to publicly discuss is that suicide by a firearm is 90% to 95% efficient, or that suicide by other means is much less efficient, resulting in an exponentially higher number of damaged survivors as most of the other suicide methods are from oxygen deprivation causing brain damage as a rule, or a fall from high places which is messy and not guaranteed to finish the job, overdoses scrambling the noggin pretty good, should we go describing the what the lack of a tool means for ensuring more people survive their suicides by less effective means?
    Roughly stated 90-95% of attempt by, 70% by suffocation, 50% by falls from heights, 2% by overdose/poisoning are fatal.

    Sad that increase in damaged survivors all resulting in states of physicality ranging from several months recovery to life time medical care required by their families and the state.

    Would you choose to be reminded daily how you failed your family member and now they are vegetables, rather than mourning their loss and then getting on with your life?

  23. “In a study of 146 adolescent friends of 26 adolescent suicide victims, teens living in single-parent families are not only more likely to commit suicide but also more likely to suffer from psychological disorders, when compared to teens living in intact families.”

    Source: David A. Brent, (et. al.) “Post-traumatic Stress Disorders in Peers of Adolescent Suicide Victims: Predisposing Factors and Phenomenology.” Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 34 (1995): 209-215.

    “Fatherless children are at dramatically greater risk of suicide.”

    Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Center for Health Statistics, Survey on Child Health, Washington, D.C., 1993.

    “Three out of four teenage suicides occur in households where a parent has been absent.”

    Source: Jean Beth Eshtain, “Family Matters: The Plight of America’s Children.” The Christian Century (July 1993): 14-21.

    “A family structure index – a composite index based on the annual rate of children involved in divorce and the percentage of families with children present that are female-headed – is a strong predictor of suicide among young adult and adolescent white males.”

    Source: Patricia L. McCall and Kenneth C. Land, “Trends in White Male Adolescent, Young-Adult, and Elderly Suicide: Are There Common Underlying Structural Factors?” Social Science Research 23 (1994): 57-81

  24. Safe storage laws are a bad idea for all kinds of reasons, but safely storing firearms is a good one. A quick-open safe works for me; I can get my gun in a hurry, but nobody else can. It wouldn’t keep me from killing myself with my gun, but it would keep someone else from killing himself with my gun. Ditto someone stealing my gun to sell to a thug. Just because the antis want to pass safe storage laws doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be smart about how we store our guns.

    • It is one thing to choose how you store your firearms and a completely different thing to be forced to store them in some prescribed manner. Basically, is that annoying difference between “rights” and “obligations”. When a right becomes an obligation, it is no longer a right.

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