Criminalizing Suicide Prevention

By Jeff Knox

(November 22, 2016) Suicide is a pervasive problem in our country. While the U.S. has a much lower suicide rate than many “gun-free utopias” like Japan, we still have far too many of our fellow citizens, particularly our veterans, taking their own lives each year. New laws pushed by Mike Bloomberg and his cabal of nanny-state billionaires, don’t just make suicide prevention harder, they can make it illegal.

In Nevada, where Bloomberg and his minions spent over $16 million to eek out a narrow victory (winning by less than one half of one percent, and only achieving a majority in one county) on a “universal background check” initiative, proponents are now admitting that they made a mistake, and want to “tweak” the law to add additional exceptions for emergency firearm transfers in cases where someone might be suicidal, and some domestic violence situations. But initiatives can’t be amended for 5 years.

Under the law as it was passed, it is illegal for anyone to transfer a firearm – even just temporarily for safe-keeping – except under very narrow exemptions. In all other cases, both the person transferring the guns, and the person receiving the guns, must go in person to a licensed gun dealer, pay a fee, complete a bunch of paperwork, and get a clear background check on the recipient before the guns can be legally transferred. Later, when the time comes to transfer the guns back to their rightful owner, the whole process must be repeated – including fees, paperwork, and a background check on the original owner.

Along with common situations like storing guns for a friend while they are moving, between permanent residences, or deployed with the military or an out-of-state job, there are often times when a friend might be going through some difficult times with divorce, depression, depression, PTSD, or other issues, and agree that it would be better if guns were not readily available.

As someone who was rather footloose in my younger days, I have often held several guns for a friend in one of these situations, and likewise have had my guns held by friends while I was working out-of-state or transitioning between homes.

As a Life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, serving in local leadership positions over the years, I often come into contact with veterans who are struggling with bills, having marital difficulties, dealing with homelessness, battling debilitating illnesses, and sometimes wrestling with thoughts of suicide. For these men and women, help comes in many forms, and one of the things I’ve been able to do to assist them is to relieve them of worries regarding their firearms by arranging safe, temporary storage.

In most of the places I have lived and served, this has not been a problem, but with the expansion of these very restrictive “universal background check” laws, those of us who are willing and able to help out a friend or comrade are finding our hands tied with legal red tape, and it’s going to cost lives.

We raised alarms about the problems with these laws when they were introduced. We pointed out that it is foolish for people who hate guns and gun owners, and who have no knowledge or understanding of guns and “gun culture” to be the arbiters of rules and regulations over how gun owners must live. We warned that these laws would make criminals of non-criminals, and would create unnecessary problems for people harmlessly doing what they, their families, and friends have always done. And we warned that these laws – which have never been shown to have any positive effect on crime or accidents – would have detrimental impacts on innocent people, preventing effective defense, and interfering with reasonable precautions.

In Washington State, where Bloomberg and his billionaire buddies passed a “universal background check” initiative two years ago, they came back this year with an initiative to allow police, friends, and coworkers to petition to have a person’s guns removed by authorities when there was fear that the person might be a danger to themselves or others. So they removed the ability for a friend or certain family members to ask a person they are worried about to voluntarily give them their guns temporarily, and replaced it with a process to force removal of guns by police.

Those of us who have worked in suicide prevention efforts, recognize that some risks can be mitigated by openly and honestly talking with people who are struggling with depression and thoughts of suicide, and encouraging them to separate themselves from those things that can make things worse – like drugs, alcohol, and weapons – while keeping people who care as close as possible. These can be very touchy situations, and an overly legalistic or heavy-handed approach will often make matters worse.

Expect to see the same anti-rights extremists that forced through the background check initiative in Nevada, and are now admitting the “unforeseen” problems with the measure, to come back in the near future with another “solution” like the one that just passed in Washington – police and court intervention.

As I have been saying for decades – and my father said for decades before that – gun control doesn’t work, and when it fails to do what proponents promised, their answer is always to add more gun control on top of it. We’ve seen it over and over again. We’ve just seen it in Washington and California, and we’re seeing it now in Nevada.