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.
|Overall Suicide Rate
|Firearm Suicide Rate
|Guns per 100 Civilians
[*] 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? 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).
 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.