When Australia bought back the privately-held guns in their country, and the general population no longer had access to guns, the total suicide rate dropped by 74%. Let that sink in a moment.
If you want to read the whole article on Australia's gun ban, click here.
It's been a little more than 7 years since mental illness, assisted by rage, despair, a couple of drinks, and easy access to guns, violently ended the life of a 46 year old father of four. When he stormed into the bedroom that July night in 2012, unlocked the gun safe and put that 20-round magazine on his high-powered semi-automatic rifle, it's pretty clear that Andre's original plan was not just self-destruction. I will never know for sure what, besides having to step past me, stopped Andre from carrying out his original plan. But something did, and he changed his mind and his aim, and only one round left the barrel of that rifle, and it ended Andre's life by his own hand.
Andre was an NRA member, a gun-safety advocate, and arguably, until that rage-filled, disconnected-from-rational-thought moment, a VERY responsible gun owner. His guns were locked in a safe. The ammo was stored separately. No one had access to that locked safe except Andre, who kept the only key to himself.
Let that sink in. Andre was a responsible gun owner, maybe even the "good guy with a gun" who would have taken down the "bad guy with a gun", in the tale that the gun lobby likes to spin. It is unlikely that any of the proposed "red flag" laws or background checks would have stopped him from going by the sporting goods store the afternoon before his death and buying a box of bullets to put into that 20-round magazine. He didn't have a criminal record. He had not ever been psychiatrically hospitalized. There were no restraining orders against him. And so, he had a safe full of guns, including the semi-automatic rifle and the 20-round magazine. He also had a longstanding mental health problem, undiagnosed, untreated, but growing more and more obvious to anyone who spent any extended time with him in his later years. Ironically, he would never have consented to getting treatment, for fear that somehow his "label" would cause him trouble, like maybe prevent him from buying more guns. No "gun safety" policies would have saved him and prevented him from initially planning to kill his whole family.
What would life have looked like, if that night that Andre hit his breaking point, he had not had access to a semi-automatic rifle and dreams of going out in a blaze of glory? Who knows. Would he have sought help? Would he have taken his life by some other means? Perhaps. But possibly not. Read this excerpt from the article I cited, about how and why Australia's over all suicide rate (not just suicide by gun) dropped after they got rid of guns.
"Buying back 3,500 guns correlated with a 74 percent drop in firearm suicides. Non-gun suicides didn't increase to make up the decline.
There is good reason why gun restrictions would prevent suicides. As Matthews explains in great depth, suicide is often an impulsive choice, one often not repeated after a first attempt. Guns are specifically designed for killing, which makes suicide attempts with guns likelier to succeed than (for example) attempts with razors or pills. Limiting access to guns makes each attempt more likely to fail, thus making it more likely that people will survive and not attempt to harm themselves again." from : https://www.vox.com/2015/8/27/9212725/australia-buyback?fbclid=IwAR3oQdSvluE7tsYX8MOgajaZsgzQ2viJN4_RcAaTfnSou6OOB9I-b-WRDf4
Is a 74% reduction in the number of people who take their own lives (by all kinds of means, not just guns) worth an experiment in political boldness?
It's time. Let's push our political leaders HARD to get guns out of the hands of the general population in this country. I'm sharing here part of a Facebook post by Carol Coe Pugh, whose husband, Brian was shot and killed, along with 3 co-workers, at his workplace several years ago. She's using the occasion of this most recent rash of mass shootings to put a human face on gun violence and urge people to get involved with stopping this madness. Her words and her links are below: "Just as good things create ripples in everyone who knows the person, so do bad things. Today I want to take advantage of the ripples. Many of you have asked "What can I do? This must stop!" I don't have any easy solutions, but here is the link where you can let your elected officials know exactly how you feel about their continued reluctance to address the issues of gun control, lack of mental health services, a national registry to purchase guns, whatever you feel strongly about. Call them, email them, write a letter and mail it. Use Resistbot to quickly and easily send your thoughts to our legislators. They need to know that we as a country are no longer willing to tolerate their inaction.
And then teach your children that using a gun never solves a problem. Thank you. Amen.