The NRA Doesn’t Believe That Gun Suicide Is Gun Violence Since They Don’t Believe That Guns Cause Violence At All.

If you are active in the field of Gun Violence Prevention, you can tell you are making a difference if you get attacked by the NRA, or better yet by Breitbart, which is one and the same thing.  Breitbart has been pimping for the NRA since it first started up in 2007 because if you want to become known as the loony voice on the Right, what better way to do it than to say something crazy about guns?  And at least for the next couple of months the craziness will be spread even further by a guy named Trump.

suicideSo it was no surprise to me that yesterday’s NRA-ILA political blog would carry a lead story attacking (and distorting) the views of one of our most dedicated and distinguished public health scholars, who happens to be Shannon Frattaroli, a faculty member at the Bloomberg School of Public Health.  Professor Frattaroli has been an outspoken advocate in many areas of gun violence, in particular helping to frame the discussion around taking and keeping guns away from individuals involved in domestic disputes.  She is also an authority on the issue of restricting gun use by persons who are strong self-harm candidates, and helped the California Legislature draft its 2014 law that allows family members and intimate partners to directly petition a judge to determine if an individual might be a threat to themselves or someone else.

The gun industry has always been reluctant to acknowledge the fact that two-thirds of gun deaths each year are caused by people who use a gun to end their own lives.  For some of the more extreme Gun-nut Nation elements, this isn’t a worrisome aspect of gun violence, it’s all about ‘personal choice.’  But there are more enlightened approaches being taken about gun suicide by the gun-owning community, witness the recent announcement by the National Shooting Sports Foundation to partner with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to develop resources for gun dealers, shooting ranges and gun owners about suicide and guns.

About the last thing that the NRA is going to endorse is any effort by anyone to develop ‘educational’ resources about anything; their definition of ‘education’ is to have an invented YouTube character with a phony name like Colion Noir prance around with his AR, or home-school queen Dana Loesch come down from her perch and lecture all those soccer moms on how they could defend the ‘real America’ if only they would all go out and buy guns.

But when the NRA really wants to concoct an argument completely out of whole cloth, they can always count on Breitbart to help them out.  And the story they relied on for this week’s attack on Shannon Frattaroli comes right out of the Breitbart land of make-believe.  Pulling some of Frattaroli’s comments out of context from an article in New America Media, the Breitbart writer, a Gun-nut Nation noisemaker named AWR Hawkins, accuses her of trying to disarm the senior, gun-owning population because older gun owners tend to be the most adamant supporters of 2nd-Amendment rights.

Actually, what Frattaroli is really saying reflects nothing more than common sense, namely, that guns are problematic when they are on the hands of an aging population, because the older we get, the more we become susceptible to physical and mental conditions that make us more vulnerable to the risks posed by guns. The CDC reports that in 2014, for example, while the overall gun-suicide rate per 100,000 was 6.54, the rate for ages 70 and above was 12.4, more than twice as high.

The NRA has never felt comfortable with saying anything about guns which leads to a discussion about risk.  This is because the only gun-risk they believe exists is when you don’t own a gun. Which is why they find it convenient and necessary to attack what Shannon Frattaroli says.  All the more reason why it’s very important to read what she has to say.



11 thoughts on “The NRA Doesn’t Believe That Gun Suicide Is Gun Violence Since They Don’t Believe That Guns Cause Violence At All.

  1. When I do my counts at the end of the month via google search murder/suicide i’m finding an uptick when it comes to the elderly. In addition I was reading about guns and dementia which is it’s own specific specialty. How does a family cope ridding a person especially ex-military of their guns. They’ve found it’s not so easy to do. Fortunately the National Alzheimer’s Association has information on this. Again this is why the CDC needs to be involved or someone.

  2. Not surprised that suicide rates rise as we age. So do rates of infirmity. As I sit here with a broken foot and a rotator cuff that needs repair from an accident, I’m feeling depressed and frustrated with my lack of usual mobility. Plus stuff heals slowly when one is in one’s sixties.

    Especially bummed as it is a nice day and the bicycle beckons. Don’t worry, the Range Officer doesn’t…

    Now what if this was stage IV cancer instead? Whose decision is it whether I am depressed or fed up enough with fighting the good fight to do something that has crashing finality? Hopefully, mine and my spouse.

    This is a tough one, balancing individual rights with protecting people from themselves. As far as suicide, I would put the burden more heavily on the government to get a restraining order. Plus, I would provide far more medical and counseling resources to intervene and help people make valid end of life choices (or kick the can down the road) rather than going to the gun case. In most places, physician assisted suicide is still a crime.

    As far as something like dementia, where one could be a threat to others, I would set the bar lower for a GVPO. Same as taking away the car keys. At some point, its time to pry those keys and guns from our cold, aging hands, I suppose. But as I too am tottering towards the far shore, it would worry me if government got a little too pro-active on this topic.

    Now, get off my lawn!

  3. As my family experienced the horrors of a murder suicide, I agree. If my aunts ex lover, who was violent, was not allowed to purchase a gun, my aunt probably would be here today enjoying watching her grandchildren grow up. How many more families need to be torn apart before the do nothing politicians get off their heavily NRA lobbied butts and make some changes?

  4. Mike,

    I’ve sure you’ve experienced this in conversation with members of Gun Nation: that suicide by gun doesn’t count, because it’s not violence, and gang shootings don’t count either, because… well, I guess they’re not violence either?

    It doesn’t matter that suicide is defined as “self-directed violence” – anything that minimizes the problem also minimizes the need to change the status quo.

  5. Actually, the Gun-nut Nation comment abut suicide I get most frequently is that everyone has the ‘right’ to decide how they want to end their own lives. It is interesting how this bunch defines the word ‘right.’

    • End of life decisions when one is fighting Stage IV cancer or something analogous, and done after suitable contemplation, is one thing. And in that case, I doubt it would be done by self directed firing squad. My grandfather, in the throes of advanced prostate cancer in the 1970’s, used pills (twice–the first time he didn’t take enough and was resuscitated). That was tough enough for Grandma. I am glad she did not wake up to a report of a revolver and the mess that would have made. But Grandpa had had enough. An incredibly active and physical guy, he could not stand pain and degradation of his life.

      When my high school friend Nick, who I sat next to for all four years of H.S. in homeroom, blew his brains out a month after high school graduation, that is quite another issue. None of us knew why he did that, and we all wished there had not been a gun in that house. Nick was a good guy, and we all wished he had gotten past whatever it was he was facing that summer when we all flew the nests.

  6. Having been on the merry-go-round of logic with perfervid Seconders, I must point out your arithmetic error, which would be one, if not the only, fact that the opposition might erect to obstruct the rest of your article: 12.4 is NOT more than twice as high as 6.54. I bring this up only because it seems I have wasted hours in conversation with the gun folks about data gathering and statistics and analysis after spending other meaningless hours on “correct” definitions, like those for “assault rifle” and “magazine”.

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