Gun control, suicide, and mental health

by Carl Fyrdman

Let’s get one thing straight, I am not saying that the number of firearms related fatalities is inconsequential. I am not saying there are not some laws that could be made or enforced, to help diminish this number. What I am saying, is that the numbers are intentionally fudged in a dishonest attempt to make the problem appear bigger than it is.

Gun control proponents benefit from making the number of firearm related deaths as large as they possibly can. The more horrific the number, the more easily they can get support for their proposals. Towards this end, their list of gun victims includes individuals like the Boston Bomber who was killed in a shootout with police, drug dealers shooting each other over territory, and the serial rapist who is killed by the young lady after he breaks into her home. Technically speaking, all of these individuals are gun victims, and so they get added into the tally.

When that doesn’t give a large enough number, the gun control crowd decides to add every suicide that involves a firearm. Suicide is a shame, and as a society, we ought to work towards decreasing the rate of suicide. The problem is that the gun control crowd rolls out the number of firearms suicides, and then suggests that their proposed laws will somehow change this number… despite the fact that the gun control crowd is 100% aware that their laws will not change a thing. They are intentionally misleading people.

Let me explain:

Most of these “common sense” gun control groups keep saying they don’t want to restrict hunting rifles and shotguns. That’s their way of pretending they are not a threat to the rights of all gun owners. BUT any handgun suicide could also be accomplished with a standard capacity shotgun or rifle – which the gun control proponents have already stated they do not want to restrict! So by their own admission, their laws will not affect suicide rates.

We could get into a philosophic debate about the right to control one’s own life and existence, versus the nanny-state mentality that would deprive you of any self control if they don’t like your decision. Indeed, I find it odd that the gun-control proponents tend to overlap with those who believe there is a right to “death with dignity”*, and that neither the state nor church should interfere with such a choice. Yet at the same time, these people wish to hold up suicide as a reason to restrict the rights of law abiding citizens. But I digress, let us leave such ideologic discussions for another time, and return to the matter at hand.

The gun-control proponents will say they are not really restricting rights, they are simply checking up on you, and documenting what you do.

Ok, you want to decrease the number of mentally unwell individuals from obtaining firearms?

Make a list of all individuals who have had mental health problems, seen a counselor, or been prescribed anti-depressants. Of course privacy advocates will point out that this is an invasion of the privacy of those individuals, treating them like some sort of second-class citizen, to be documented and kept track of. Furthermore, mental health workers will point out that this process stigmatizes mental illness. If a person knows that seeking help (counseling or medication) will result in losing their right to own a firearm for hunting or self defense, those individuals will be far less likely to seek help.

Curiously, many people who are opposed to stigmatizing those with mental health issues, are perfectly fine stigmatizing law abiding gun owners. Imagine if a newspaper published the names & addresses of all local mental health clients – which is exactly what the New York Journal News did to gun owners (and which the Bangor Daily News appears to have considered doing as well).

To reiterate,

1) Only by registering mental health clientele, will background checks be able to affect suicide. Until such lists of mental health clientele are compiled (despite whatever protests arise) and are added to the NICS database, there is no way to assume that background checks will ever limit suicides.

2) Suicides can be performed using any firearm, including a single shot muzzle-loader. And again, the gun-control crowd has repeatedly stated that they are not interested in our hunting rifles and shotguns. Thus suicide will be unaffected by the various other suggestions put forth by gun-control proponents, and therefore the gun-control proponents need need to stick to just the homicides and accidental injuries… and leave all suicides out of the discussion

* [editor’s note: Linda Waite-Simpson, the same legislator that was instrumental in pushing the majority of gun control bills in Vermont, was ALSO the paid lobbyist for Assisted Suicide in Vermont!]
Linda was the Executive Director of Compassion and Choices:

1. Burlington Free Press – Why promote physician-assisted suicide?:

2. Patient Choices Vermont – Act 39 please call Linda Waite-Simpson Vermont State Director: