About 36,000 people die of gunshot wounds in the US every year. Of that total, two-thirds are suicides. To the extend that the number of suicides can be reduced, that’s a benefit, not only in terms of the lives saved — the primary consideration — but it’s also a plus for gun rights.
Despite all of the statistical evidence, our friends in the Civilian Disarmament Industrial Complex will claim that we’re in the midst of a “gun violence” epidemic until every single civilian-owned firearm is confiscated. So there’s little we can do to change the minds or behavior of dedicated hoplophobes and gun-grabbers. But those in the middle — non-gun-owning voters who can be persuaded — are the ones gun rights supporters are interested in convincing.
California is the land where gun rights go to die. A firearms-related bill that’s pending in the state assembly, however, would have the unusual feature of being voluntary. AB 1927, as currently written, have the California DOJ study options for allowing individuals to prevent themselves from buying a firearm.
Assembly Bill 1927 would allow at-risk individuals to put themselves on a voluntary no-buy list, which would prevent them from purchasing guns from a licensed dealer. The bill was approved by the Assembly on Wednesday and is now in the state Senate.
It’s worth noting that impulse gun buys aren’t an issue in the Golden State as there’s already a 10-day waiting period imposed on all gun purchases. Still, if an individual doesn’t own previously purchased firearm when they consider taking their own life, that could make a difference.
Often, people at risk of suicide are well aware of their vulnerability, especially if they have chronic mental illness. Research shows that suicide is almost always an impulsive act during acute distress. A no-buy list, which recently passed in Washington state, allows suicidal crises to pass without a gun nearby. Once the crisis passes, individuals can take themselves off the list.
Wait. Won’t people determined to kill themselves just choose another method? Not according to Professor Frederick Vars of the University of Alabama.
There is a common misconception that suicidal individuals will simply find another way if guns are not available. Most do not try another method and if they do, other methods are far less lethal.
The professor doesn’t provide any proof for that assertion, but let’s concede the point for argument’s sake. To whatever extent possible, reducing the number of suicides is a net good. And since this law would be voluntary, is it something with which you could get on board? Is it possible that California could enact an actual gun safety measure that gun owners will support?