Is there any doubt that having a firearm, especially in the home, is a risk for suicide? No. And yet some of the gun rights extremists don’t like it when physicians or military personnel advise people not to have guns around when someone is at risk for mental illness and/or suicide.
Having a firearm in the home is no more a risk for suicide than having Tylenol, rope, or a belt. I can assure you that my household suicide risk right now is effectively zero. Neither Bitter nor I are currently, nor have we ever been, suicidal people. Given that most of my personal fears and anxieties revolve around getting old, getting sick, and dying, I can see into the future and make a prediction that my suicide risk from now until I’m in the ground is also effectively zero. I spent way too much time watching my mother struggle to hang on to her own life, largely for the sake of our family, to just throw mine away like that.
Guns in my house do not increase my suicide risk a single iota. Would I keep guns locked away if someone in the house were suicidally depressed? Sure. But my primary concern would be that there’s someone in the house that’s suicidally depressed. I can’t remove everything a person in that state could possibly use to hurt themselves.
I believe the suicide angle is one of the most ridiculous arguments our opponents make. The most popular suicide attraction in the world is the Golden Gate Bridge, in San Francisco:
An official suicide count was kept, sorted according to which of the bridge’s 128 lamp posts the jumper was nearest when he or she jumped. By 2005, this count exceeded 1,200 and new suicides were occurring about once every two weeks.
Suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge is a far more effective method than firearms. I think we can also agree that most Americans live near at least one or two tall object of relative note, and that are reasonably accessible. The San Francisco community has repeatedly resisted attempts to install a suicide barrier on the bridge, for fear of ruining the classic beauty of this iconic San Francisco landmark.
So when it comes to bridges, even the most liberal city in the Untied States accepts there can be tradeoffs. Our opponents, however, do not. Dangerous objects clearly need to be restricted, because you might hurt yourself with them. I’m pretty certain your average person can successfully realize that doing such a thing is a one-way road to an infantalized society. Ultimately, I think this angle will ring hollow.