by Dorothy Paugh
In the aftermath of recent murder-suicides, pleas for more … as well as fewer … guns have made the news. As the mother of a 25-year-old son who shot himself in April, I know this is a heated issue. I believe that individuals need to make informed personal decisions about whether or not to own a gun.
According to research, “for every time a gun in the home was used in a self-defense or legally justifiable shooting, there were four unintentional shootings, seven criminal assaults or homicides, and 11 attempted or completed suicides.
To put gun deaths in perspective, over 30,000 people die from intentional (excluding accidental) gunshots each year in the United States. Roughly 19,000 of these gun deaths are suicides. Four fifths of all suicides are male and just over half use a firearm. According to the most recent US Census Bureau data, guns are used to commit over 11,000 murders per year. That’s about two thirds of all murders.
Having a gun in the house more than doubles the risk of suicide for ALL who live there, according to researchers David Hemenway and Matthew Miller at the Harvard School of Public Health who wrote "Guns and Suicide in the United States" published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Suicide and murder are often impulsive acts done in a moment of extreme despair or anger. When overwhelming emotions intersect with such effective means, death happens. We are not likely to change human nature any time soon. Modern therapies have not made a dent in the statistics.
But if an opportunistically suicidal person is thwarted in their attempt, most do NOT go on to choose another means. The urge to die that took over in that terrible moment retreats, never to return with such compelling force. I suspect the same is true for murders that are crimes of passion.
What does work to reduce the death rate is limiting access to quick and easy methods, according to the article “The Urge to End It All” by Scott Anderson. The reason guns are singled out on the list of possible methods is their lethality. They are easy to get, easy to use and cause the least- survivable injuries. Since Australia enacted strict gun laws in 1996 in the wake of a mass shooting, suicides and murders have each declined approximately 60%. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/won ... australia/
Had my son not owned a gun, I believe he’d be alive today. Human beings are fragile and fallible, and guns do not allow for such frailties.