Gun control activists love to portray Second Amendment advocates as people who care more about their right to keep and bear arms than they care about human lives, which is simply not the case for virtually every other gun owner I know. Most of us are gun owners precisely because we care enough about human life to want to protect it, and we know that the insult on the part of anti-gunners is designed to bolster a false premise: the only way to truly protect innocent life is by banning guns.
If you’re a regular reader here at Bearing Arms, you know that in addition to covering the latest Second Amendment news and information, we talk quite a bit about ways to reduce violent crime without trying to ban our way to safety, and we’re not alone. The Second Amendment community is full of activists who are more than willing to look for ways to reduce gun-related deaths, as long as they don’t infringe on our right to keep and bear arms.
The Oregonian newspaper is highlighting the work that several gun rights activists are engaged in to reduce gun-related suicides, and it’s great to see some positive media coverage for their efforts.
“It’s in the interest of gun owners to sit down at the table,” says Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Second Amendment Foundation, a national organization based in Bellevue, and co-chair with Stuber of the Safer Homes coalition. “It’s all about preventing suicide, and not about other issues. We have to talk about the problem in a way that doesn’t threaten gun owners. We have to talk about safe storage when people are a threat to themselves or others.”
The Second Amendment Foundation’s Alan Gottlieb is co-chair of Washington’s Safer Homes coalition. along with Jennifer Stuber, a professor of social welfare at University of Washington. Gottliebe invited Stuber, along with firearms instructor Brent Bass, who leads the project’s firearms community outreach programs, to be a part of the SAF’s recent Gun Rights Policy Conference along with other members of the suicide prevention task force.
Dr. Jeff Sung, a Seattle psychiatrist and task force member, briefed the audience on what it’s like to go into and come out of a suicidal thought process to show how safely stored guns can protect people in the home.
“A suicidal crisis is not fatal in and of itself,” Sung says. “The vast majority of people get through it. Research shows that when people don’t have immediate access to a lethal method, they find a way to get through suicidal crisis, and find a way to reconnect with life, reconnect with a new sense of purpose.”
While there is still a stigma in some circles of the 2A community when it comes to talking about or even acknowledging gun-related suicides, gun rights activist Clark Aposhian says it makes sense for gun owners to take the lead in dealing with the issue.
“If you want to drop the numbers, the biggest bang for your buck is addressing suicide,” he says. “But you don’t fix suicide the same way you fix a drive-by shooting. If we don’t do something to address it in our own culture, it will be done for us, and it won’t be pretty — a new mandate, a new law — and it won’t be as effective as the peer-to-peer relationship.”
I think Aposhian’s on target with his comments. The 2A community can be more effective than a red flag law or other unconstitutional attempts to reduce suicide by going after gun ownership itself, and we can all be a part of the solution. Part of is simply reaching out to others to see how they’re doing, and if we see someone struggling we can listen or point them to mental health resources. We can also point gun owners who may be going through a crisis themselves or have a member of their household that they’re concerned about to programs like the Gun Shop Project so they can temporarily remove their guns from their home and store them in a place where they feel comfortable.
Of course, not every state has a Gun Shop Project in place, but I hope that will soon change. With 2A activists taking the lead on suicide prevention, I have no doubt that we’ll see more gun shops and gun owners stepping up to be a part of the solution.