The Stars & Stripes reports that self-proclaimed “experts” are recommending to the military that they restrict troops’ access to private firearms in order to prevent suicide. But, I question their so-called research.
For example, they say that, because of restrictive firearms laws in New York State, Fort Drum’s suicide rate is low. Well, that’s not exactly true – New York laws do indeed restrict handguns, but not long guns. I bought a number of long guns while I was at Drum, because the culture of fort Drum revolved around hunting. Just about everyone I knew had a rifle or two. Yes, suicide with a long gun is more difficult, but if the decision to commit suicide is a spur of the moment thing, like these experts say it is, any tool will work. They can’t have it both ways.
“If you’re in a house with a gun, there’s a lot more of a chance you’re going to die,” he said.
Living in a home with a gun increases the suicide death risk two- to 10-fold, Miller said.
Firearms were used in 68 percent of Army suicides in 2010, according to an Army Health and Violence report released this year. Most often, soldiers shot themselves to death at home or in the barracks.
Yeah, well, one of the “experts” who gets consulted for this article is our buddy Dr. Elspeth Cameron Ritchie and in a post I wrote last month on her “research”, she stated that less than half of the guns used in suicide attempts were privately owned. That means that more than half of the guns used in suicides in the military were service weapons. So do they intend to restrict soldiers’ access to their assigned service weapons?
The “experts” say that the hard answer to reducing suicides is identification and treatment of soldiers who are at risk. So I guess that taking away their guns is the easy answer – and probably the one that Big Army is considering.
While I agree that commanders should be able to restrict access to guns to people who seem to be at risk for suicide, to discuss a blanket policy that would affect the entire force is ridiculous and overbearing. But then, Big Army has never, ever punished the entire force for the actions of the few, have they?