“Experts” want to restrict troops’ guns

| December 4, 2012

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?

Category: Big Army

Comments (20)

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  1. NHSparky says:

    And if you’re in the barracks, you’re not supposed to have a weapon, period. So how’d they get them? I’m not sure of the rules these days vis-a-vis base housing, but I can’t imagine they’re a lot less restrictive.

    Just further evidence that if someone is dead set (pardon the expression) to hurt themselves or someone else, the choice of weapon is far down the list of things one need consider.

  2. MAJ Mike says:

    Hmmm. Better restrict rope, shoe laces, rat poison, knives, scissors, the list is endless. Better to encourage battle comrades to stay alert for symptoms of depression leading to suicide.

    Firearms may be purchased off-post and brought on-post (yes, I remain CPT Obvious). They may be stored in a POV. Better to recognise the symptoms before they take hold of the victim.

  3. DaveO says:

    Spur of the moment suicides are such a miniscule number most folks who study suicide don’t use them. There are no behavioral markers that will tell you a joe is going to look at a gun, and kill himself.

    Now for my usual blah-blah-blah. As women typically choose less bloody means of killing themselves – usually medications and booze – are we going to shut down pharmacies and Class VI stores?

    Where is the parity, if this is truly about saving soldiers from suicide? Where are the calls for shutting down all sources of booze? Of sleeping pills and other prescription drugs? Yeah, didn’t think so.

    So, basically, this isn’t about saving lives – the folks in charge don’t give a rat’s ass about joes. This is about PC anti-2nd Amendment gun grabs.

  4. NHSparky says:

    MAJMike–Ah, said difference. When I was single and in the barracks, weapons had to be checked in at the Armory (they don’t trust squids with things that go “BANG”, I guess.) Off-base, as long as you complied with local laws, all was well, meaning that if you were stationed in Hawaii, California, Guam, etc., you’re pretty much SOL on everything.

  5. Cajun says:

    In the Army, most of my duty stations required you turn in your “personally owned weapons” to the PMO, and you’d get them back when you cleared post & PCSed.

    In my prior service Air Force life, Grand Forks AFB was not like that for some reason. There was a Staff Sergeant in my squadron with a class III license who ran an AR custom shop from his on-post family housing (circa ’04).

    The talk at Carson right before I left active duty was whether or not to restrict personally owned weapons for Soldiers living off-post (!)

  6. streetsweeper says:

    Vehicles! Restrict all vehicles. Foot traffic only, everywhere on bases.

  7. melle1228 says:

    A person who is mentally unstable and is hell bent on commiting suicide is not going to let a gun ban stop them. This would be different if guns were the only way to commit suicide, but they aren’t.. so let’s ban knives, pills, ropes, buildings etc.

    Suicidal people are going to kill themselves, arguing about the method is stupid. The root problem isn’t going to go away if you ban guns. It is about as idiotic as saying a murderer is suddenly going to follow gun laws.

  8. NHSparky says:

    To the gun grabbers reading this thread, I ask you to do this:

    –Pick a country with restrictive weapons laws, say, Great Britian.
    –Compare their suicide rates to ours.
    –Compare their violent crime rates to ours.

    Notice a difference?

  9. Twist says:

    @4, When I left Ft. Wainwright in 2009 single Soldiers still had to lock their POWs in the arms room and it required the CO’s signature to sign them back out. If you lived in post housing you had to go to the MPs, get all the correct paperwork, take your POW to your CO to verify the serial number, and then turn in the paperwork to the MPs. Off post you where restricted to whatever the State allowed. Here at Atterbury there is no on post housing and everyone lives off post so we are restricted by State laws. The only caveat is that you can’t bring them on post except for hunting season with certain paperwork filled out.

  10. Nicki says:

    Oh, good lord! Miller again! They could at least cite someone with a bit less of an anti-gun agenda. Miller is well known in gun rights circles as someone who has ZERO objectivity when it comes to firearms. He’s not a researcher. He’s a political activist. Seeing his name on a study pretty much invalidates it in my book.

  11. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    “You can have my guns when you take them from my cold, dead hands.”

    Charlton Heston

  12. Twist says:

    I’m surprised they didn’t quote the “heat seeking, cooked deer woman”.

  13. Ex-PH2 says:

    Oh, for pete’s sake. Someone do some research on how people can commite suicide without a loaded gun.

    You can die from taking too much aspirin. You bleed to death and the toxic change in your blood chemistry throws off your Ph levels.

    You can die by drinking too much water. It drowns your brain.

    You can die from overeating, even if your weight is normal. Yes, this can happen to someone who is not obese. About 30 years ago, some young woman who had a terrible argument with her family ate the equivalent of four full meals (four courses) in one sitting. Her weight and size were normal. Her stomach exploded from the overload and she died of peritonitis and associated internal bleeding. It was in Time magazine, which was a lot less stupid rag back then.

    You can kill yourself by eating glass or sitting in a car with the exhaust piped into the car and the windows closed. You can starve yourself to death intentionally, without being in the anorexic category.

    You can take a dive off a high bridge or a dam into water. You can walk into a lake on a freezing cold day and start swimming, or just walk into a body of water and keep going.

    You can drive your car off a cliff, into a lake, onto train tracks, or you can just set the gas tank on fire.

    Or you can do what that bastard in Washington state did, set your house on fire with your two children, whom you’ve already murdered with an axe.

    This is ludicrous.

  14. Common Sense says:

    Or you can use a cross bow and knife like the guy who killed his father in Wyoming this week.

    Or hang yourself like two of my college classmates did freshman year or one of my son’s friends did a few years ago. Hanging is REALLY common for teenagers.

    For the 3 AF bases I’ve been on this year – Lackland, Sheppard, and Buckley – you have to check your personal firearms at the armory. However, your car and your person are never searched so it’s pretty much on the honor system unless you get caught. That includes visitors too. How secure is that? Lackland and Sheppard host many units from foreign countries like Jordan and Saudi Arabia for training. There’s nothing stopping them from obtaining weapons off-base and bringing them back in the trunk of a car or in a backpack.

    If you can’t trust our military with weapons, who can you trust?

    Also, if you put on your tinfoil hat, if members of the military are unarmed, both professionally and personally, what happens if something like Obama not wanted to step down after the next 4 years occurs? The whole purpose of the 2nd Amendment is to protect against our own government, not for hunting and target shooting.

    What better way to disarm the military than to imply that they all have PTSD and their weapons have to be taken away for their own safety.

  15. MCPO NYC USN (Ret.) says:

    If you catch the PTSD like Wigetfield did or does. And you are 100% VA disabled, certified, bat sh*t crazy, out of your lane, all ate up, drouling from both sides of your mouth, swearing up and down with no regard for who is in the room, crapping yourself in church, pinching your boss’s wife, slapping little children, and spending money you don’t have … still does not mean you will shoot yourself!

    But in Wigetfield’s case … I would take his guns and parachutes anyway …

  16. Sig says:

    Fort Lewis allows soldiers to keep weapons in their residence. For those in housing with dependents, at least; I don’t know how it is in single barracks.

    This is so full of fail I have no words. The Army’s risk-averse senior officer corps will spend way too much time thinking about this. “For the troops” is the latest version of “for the children”–because they will treat us like children “for our own good.” They trust us to make split-second decisions in the heat of battle, but not to live our own lives.

  17. SEAhorse says:

    If your in a house with a Tv, there’s a a lot more of a chance yurt going to watch a rerun of two and a half men

  18. Anonymous says:

    “While I agree that commanders should be able to restrict access to guns to people who seem to be at risk for suicide”

    Nope. If you live in my barracks I get to dictate how and where your weapons are stored. If you live in your private home then your weapons are between you and the Federal government. Commanders are not empowered to grant or deny Constitutional rights based on their opinions as to an invidual’s mental state. Just as a shrink walking down a public sidewalk doesn’t have the authority to declare a random individual a danger to society just because he doesn’t like the look of him.

  19. I’m a retired cop with a permit that’s good in all 50 states to allow me to carry…but not on some military post. I have to leave it outside, or have it registered, then unload it and leave it in the trunk.
    Now that the Army is going to civilian cops…who frankly don’t look that high speed…I feel that I hope to God they can save us if they have another wacko Major go nuts and start shooting people.

    I think a better idea for the military is to have “designated gun carriers” in and out of uniform. These would be soldiers, sailors, etc who are well trained and screened but would defend others if a nut goes crazy again.
    Like a “Battle Buddy” but a 1911 .45 or something.

  20. Ex-PH2 says:

    Common Sense, if the idea behind taking the military’s weapons away from them will prevent rebuffing an attempt by the Big Cheese & Co. to claim the “throne” permanently, then how will the Big Cheese get the military to enforce martial law when they don’t have any weapons?

    The NDAA (passed in secret behind locked doors, authored by McCain and [I think] Reid) allows martial law to be enforced, but then the military is a smaller population group than the 80 to 90 million recreational gun owners and rednecks who love their guns, so ….

    I can’t go any further. The lack of logic behind paranoid conspiracy theories puts me in uncontrollable giggles.

    I think they entire government is made up of a bunch of nutballs who should be locked up at work and not let out for at least four years. Who needs ’em, anyway? I think we could get along just fine without them.