People who own firearms can’t be trusted; at least that’s what we are told time and time and time again, ad infinitum, ad nauseum. We can’t be trusted to carry them, either openly or concealed and we can’t be trusted with them in our own homes.
Right to Keep and Bear Arms is a DKos group of second amendment supporters who also have progressive and liberal values. We don't think that being a liberal means one has to be anti-gun. Some of us are extreme in our second amendment views (no licensing, no restrictions on small arms) and some of us are more moderate (licensing, restrictions on small arms.) Moderate or extreme or somewhere in between, we hold one common belief: more gun control equals lost elections. We don't want a repeat of 1994. We are an inclusive group: if you see the Second Amendment as safeguarding our right to keep and bear arms individually, then come join us in our conversation. If you are against the right to keep and bear arms, come join our conversation. We look forward to seeing you, as long as you engage in a civil discussion.As always, if you're interested in joining RKBA, message KVoimakas.
Step into virtually any RKBA related diary and you will undoubtedly find comments that declare that gun owners might snap at any moment and go on a shooting rampage. Violent crime rates are continuing a downward trend but we can't be trusted. We are told that firearms aren’t much good for self defense because it’s more likely that the attacker will take the gun and use it against their victim. Depending on the study, defensive gun uses range from a low of 108,000 to a high of 2.5 million per year. With around 100,000 firearm related injuries each year even using the lowest estimates of DGUs there is a net gain in favor of firearm ownership, but we can't be trusted. Based on the statistics I have seen for Florida and Texas, concealed carry permit holders have a lower rate of criminal behavior than law enforcement officers (Florida) and those without a permit (Texas), but we can't be trusted. One of the most frequent arguments I see is that anyone who goes out and buys a firearm (especially a handgun) is setting themselves up for a violent death by suicide and can't be trusted.
So the reasoning goes that just owning a firearm means the owner is more likely to use their firearm to commit suicide than use it to prevent a violent crime like murder, therefore we would all be better off with fewer firearms and fewer people being able to own firearms.
This line of reasoning gives me pause and makes me wonder about some things. Is this true, is there a causal relationship between firearm ownership and suicide? Would firearm access restrictions lead to a substantial reduction in suicide rates?
In a 2004 report, the National Academy of Sciences noted that there was no link between firearm ownership and suicides when comparing the rates of different countries. This tells us that the number of guns or level of firearm ownership in a country is not an indicator of that countries rates of suicide.
I am of the opinion that gun ownership has no affect on the numbers of people who kill themselves. What is affected is the numbers of people who commit suicide with a gun. To me that makes obvious sense, someone who really, really wants to kill themselves doesn’t need a .357 because they have an abundance of alternative methods at their disposal. But the response I often get from firearm opponents is that guns will inevitably raise the suicide rate because they are uniquely lethal. If you take away guns or at the least severely restrict access to them you will greatly decrease the suicide rate.
I am going to venture a guess and assume that people who use a gun to commit suicide are generally fully committed to ending their lives. So even if they are deprived of a firearm, I am confident they will no doubt find a different yet reliable method to end their lives. The bottom line? Increased, restrictive firearm legislation or the banning firearms is unlikely to produce a substantive reduction in the overall suicide rate.
In his paper “Suicide and Culture” David Lester made the following statement.
Research indicates that increased availability of a method for suicide is associated with an increase in its use for suicide (Carke and Lester, 1989). For example, Killias, van Kesteren and Rindlisbacher (2001) found that, in nations where a large proportion of the population owned guns, higher numbers of suicide were committed with guns. However, ownership of guns had no association with the total suicide rate. This suggests that, if guns are not freely available, people use guns less often for committing suicide but switch instead to other methods for suicide, such as poisons, hanging, stabbing, jumping and drowning.This all leads me to my final question of, When it comes to establishing firearm policy should we consider suicide? What if scientific studies were conducted and did establish that gun owners couldn’t be trusted, that regular exposure via ownership of a firearm resulted in a shortened lifespan due to suicide? Should we do anything about it?
There are all kinds of things that we are exposed to that can and do shorten our lifespan. Buying and driving a car has the potential to shorten your lifespan, people drive a lot and traffic accidents can be fatal. Having a swimming pool in your backyard is a potentially fatal hazard to you and your loved ones. Common household chemicals are hazardous and cause numerous fatalities each year, but I have yet to hear people suggesting that there be laws that limit access to these things.
Personal safety ultimately rests with the individual and a mentally stable person should be free to judge whether they are more at risk from a street criminal than from a spell of intense depression.
People of a paternalistic nature declare we should have our access to firearms severely restricted at best and the right to keep and bear arms eliminated at worst because we, the firearm owning public, are our own worst enemies. My reply is simple: We can't trust ourselves, but are supposed to trust you?