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Suicide in the Gun Debate

Speaking from Personal Experience to people who've lost a loved one to suicide with a gun and are now working to restrict gun rights

by Angel Shamaya
Founder & Director, KeepAndBearArms.com
Director@KeepAndBearArms.com 

 

My only blood brother ended his own life with a shotgun.  I love him dearly, and I still miss him often. He was 17 years old, a senior in high school, and he had many friends and no known enemies.  His departure left a gaping hole in our family that can never be filled. A week later, his best friend and a dear friend of mine ended his own life with a shotgun, as well, adding to what already felt like a mountain of agony caving in on my soul. It took me years to recover completely. I have known a handful of other good, decent people who, for one reason or another, chose to end their own lives, as well. Some of them used guns; others used rope, car exhaust and pills.

I share this with you not because I want sympathy. I don't need or want anyone's sympathy, pity, or any other such sentiment; I've gone through my pain and come out the other side a better person with deeper compassion and understanding.  I share this with you because I am going to say some things about suicide and the gun issue that -- were I not the survivor of a suicided family member -- could be called anything from insensitive to calloused and downright cruel. But I've been there, so such labels cannot fairly be applied to me. 

This article is intended as a tool to effectively counter the anti-self-defense "suicide argument" for stronger controls on the constitutional, God-given right to keep and bear arms. Anyone who lost someone to suicide with a gun and is now calling for the restriction of the rights of others will require courage and gut-level honesty to read the following. Reprint permission is granted as long as it is kept intact, including the introduction and footer of the article referring back to KeepAndBearArms.com.

Finally, to my family and friends whose loved ones are mentioned in this report: I love you. Please, please understand what I am doing with this article, and please call me if you want to talk.

 

THE PROBLEM

Many anti-self-defense leaders today are bolstering the numbers of people dying by gunshot with the suicides that are taking place -- increasing the legitimate "death by criminal misuse of gun" tally in hopes the larger numbers will further their pre-confiscation agenda.  (Yes, pre-confiscation. The licensing of rights and registration of guns -- now en vogue for anti-rights people -- are the two major ways in which guns have consistently throughout history -- on American soil and abroad -- become the easy targets of successful confiscations.) In many cases -- some of them widely publicized by gun control organizations and the liberal media -- people enduring the pain of having lost a loved one through death-by-choice-with-firearm are now screaming for restrictive gun controls and even gun bans. 

While gun-related violence is on a continual, steady decline, suicide deaths are being used, in part, because they are needed to "get the job done." People shout out for pity and compassion for the survivors of suicides in a call to infringe on the rights of lawful, peaceable gun owners in hopes, they say, of preventing future incidents of suicide. And, without inflating the numbers of gun-related deaths with suicide statistics -- and the pain-laden, heart-jerking stories that go with them -- with gun violence going down and down again, the gun grabbers are reaching, many of them deifying their lost loved ones before God and country as if, somehow, the dead person wasn't responsible -- that it was the "evil gun" that caused the act. And some people actually buy it, hook, line and sinker.

Unfortunately, not only are these users of people's suicides for political manipulation and social engineering doing so against the grain of evidence supporting lawful ownership of firearms as a means of reducing crime and death in general, they are emotionally imbalanced, as well, oftentimes to the point of being unable to rationally discuss the very issues about which they so loudly bellow. Their call to infringe on gun rights, while satisfying a personal need to "do something" actually costs more lives than it saves, and their own inability to deal in reason, logic and fact is partially responsible for the lost lives incurred.

 

Why do people who lose someone to suicide blame the gun?

When something goes wrong, people tend to want to blame something, anything, and this is never truer than when a great deal of pain is experienced. And, arguably, the deepest pain we as human beings will ever feel involves losing someone very close to us.  When Michael took his own life, the poetry that tore its way through my pen was so steeped in heartache, confusion, shock, horror and other powerful emotions, the very paper upon which I wrote was many times covered in tears. I hurt, really really bad.  I went through a rich variety of "blamings."  I blamed myself and my parents, his teachers, society, and even God. And, for a time, I blamed "that damned shotgun." 

I needed to pin that awful, gut-wrenching pain on something, anything, in my seemingly downward spiral of agony, if only to have some target upon which I could focus all of my aching, gnawing sense of loss and despair.  I felt victimized, and I needed to vent that tremendous sense of helplessness upon whatever must be the real cause of my anguish. So overwhelmed by the rich flood of seemingly endless and unrelenting emotions, I needed to lock onto an "enemy" and tear its flesh, lashing out for what felt at the time like the gravest injustice I could ever or would ever feel.

Such is human nature. Ask any psychologist, psychiatrist or even a second year psych major, or just ask yourself about your own experience as a blamer. When the harder road is the one that requires personal, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual responsibility, underdeveloped or pain-stricken human beings sometimes falter for a time until they see and then rise above the pattern. We have all blamed, and that does include yours truly.

Gun-blamers who've suffered through a suicide, however, are advised to dig deeper -- if their goal is truly to save lives.

 

RESPONSIBILITY

Responsibility means many things to many people. In this context, the definition to which I refer is: accountability. 

John D. Rockefeller said, "Every right requires a responsibility." When we as individuals within a free society exercise our rights regarding firearms, we possess in equal measure an accountability for the safe exercise of these rights. We are free to make choices, and that includes what others will see as "bad" choices or "wrong" choices. One could argue that free will -- choice -- is at the very root of human nature. We choose. And we suffer the consequences of our choices. And we bear the fruit of our choices, as well. The road forks, and we pick our paths and walk to the best of our abilities to the next fork in our road, making choices all along the way.

Some people come to a fork in the road where they perceive it to be a literal dead end. Suicide is a choice. Someone, for whatever reason, says, "goodbye," and they leave. Be it pills, rope, slashed wrists, tall buildings, reckless driving, alcohol or drugs, or by gun, a free will choice is engaged, and off they go. They "infringe" -- to the extreme -- their own right to life, by choice.

Fundamental to the healing that takes place in a healthy grieving process after losing a loved one to suicide is the coming to terms with the painful realization that, in my case, for example, "my little brother wanted to die so much, he actually went and offed himself." You wanna talk about some pain? I've been through loads of the stuff in my life, but that one was like trying to tackle the entire front line of the Dallas Cowboys with both hands tied behind my back. Took me at least a year to even comprehend the level of acceptance required to swallow that pill, and three or four more before I was done crying.

I share this with you to convey the depth and breadth of the situation you're dealing with when you are dealing with a gun blamer who wants to ban all guns because little Jimmy stuck a shotgun in his mouth. If you are an anti-gun person who lost someone to suicide, I share this with you because: I'm living proof that you can pull out of the hole you're in that currently has you working to deny little old ladies the right to carry guns to defend their own waning lives against four big guys with butcher knives and rape and murder on their minds. That's a dark, nasty, selfish place to try to work out your pain. And you're better than that.

I pray I may be of assistance to you in your quest for understanding -- and healing. But you'll have to listen and think for yourself, and that I ask you humbly to do.

 

My brother pulled the trigger.  The gun did not fire itself.

What I finally had no other choice but to simply accept was that Michael pulled the trigger. My dear brother -- loved by many and with whom I'd invested countless hours -- took his own life. He did it. The gun was simply the vehicle; that is all. What I came to realize -- through emotional trial and error -- was that my unwillingness to accept and deal with that painful fact was what "pushed me" to seek other things to blame. I was, for a time and understandably, being immature and irrational under the weight of losing my little brother. And, though I didn't go to the extreme now exhibited by many anti-self-defense/anti-gun people who are calling for restrictions and in some cases complete usurpations of other citizens' God-given, constitution-recognized right to self-defense and liberty-defense, I can certainly speak from a place of authority about what they are doing and why. I walked a thousand miles in their mocassins.

People who've lost someone to suicide with a gun and now work to strip other citizens of their rights don't want to admit that the gun didn't do it to him/her, because then they'd have to look at what they are avoiding dealing with: guilt. I felt guilty as Hell Itself, deep down inside where it hurt like fire. What could I have done to change his mind? Why didn't I give him more of this or that? Why'd my brother leave me? Was it so bad that he couldn't talk to me. Did I not leave an opening for him to come to me? Etc. etc. ad painful nauseum. God knows I know all those questions and a thousand more, and I had to ask them, be with them, and move through it, and so do you.

But not at the expense of the right of a little old granny who doesn't want her last breath to be mixed with the sweat of a violent ex-convict the government let out of jail a few years too soon.

 

Why do people who lose someone to suicide seek to restrict the guns owned by other people?

Following are a few excuses being used by suicide survivors who now call for gun restrictions and gun bans, along with my observations:

"Make Their Death Count for Something"

This one is very common indeed. You can click to testimonials of anti-rights websites and find this one in plenitude. "I just had to do something productive so Jane's death wasn't in vain," says one well-meaning woman. Another tells us, "I want my husband's passing to serve as a beacon of life to keep guns out of the hands of people who are prone to depression." The list of "make their death count for something" justifications for stripping the very right that created our nation and keeps us free is endless.

But when a gun control promoter finally wakes up, he or she will realize that what "Jane's" death is counting for is the production of more crime, more rape, more murder, less freedom, more fear, more suffering, more heartache and agony, and everything else bad that comes with decreased access to firearms by lawful people. Is that really what you want your husband's passing away to count for, ma'am? Would your husband really want you to make sure a little old lady much like his own mother is easier to rape?

"Easy access is the cause."

This is one of the two loudest arguments in the "control guns because of suicide" conversation. You don't have to look far to find someone who lost a loved one to suicide blaming easy access to guns. "If guns weren't so prevalent in our society, my son would still be here," says one very vociferous, grieving mother whose son shot himself in the family garage. She didn't mention if it was her own gun to which she provided access, nor did she tell us if she watched for warning signs, but I can tell you from experience that warning signs are not blinking neon, and the fact is that some kids are going to kill themselves no matter what they use. Japan is a good example of child suicide. Unless you are a government agent or a member of the crime syndicate, in Japan, you don't have access to a gun. So, not long ago, we saw a report of a junior high student hurling himself to his death off of a third floor balcony -- during lunchtime at school. I don't think his parents are calling for the banning of balconies. Their society, like ours and many others, hasn't figured out how to create an environment where everyone is happy. To my knowledge, no society ever has.

The biggest problem with embarking on a "reduce gun access" crusade is that, in reducing access to guns to prevent the suicidal from gaining access, you're also reducing access to guns for self-defense, family-defense and liberty-defense for the other 99.9% of us, and that just isn't a very nice thing to do. In fact, when it comes to reducing access such that little old granny can't get one and must therefore submit to a knife-wielding rapist, it's downright ruthless -- all in the name of working out your own issues.

I know it hurts, but do you really want to hurt more people in your own measured moves to do what you think is right -- when it isn't?

"We've got to do something to stop suicides."

"I just had to do something." This one is as common as lying politicians. That vague little statement has come up in numerous interviews I've done with anti-gun people who've lost someone to a bullet -- especially with suicide survivors -- so many times I lost count long ago. And the "something" anti-gun voters and/or activists choose is that "something" that makes it easier for criminals to prey on people. When you take a gun away from a frail woman and put her up against a large, strong man, without a weapon or some serious training, she's going to lose every time. So your "something" you're doing is something, indeed, isn't it? Rational, logical people find that "something" is wrong when it strips a grandmother of her right to stop a murderer who wants her gold teeth. (That happened to a little old lady down the street from my own grandmother, and he raped her and ran over her 89-year-old body with her own car before he took her gold teeth, too. Houston, Texas, in The Heights area, several years ago, look it up.) 

Guns hold self-defense empowerment for the grannies of the world, and your loved one choosing to step out of life prematurely is not a valid excuse for taking away that self-defense empowerment while you "do something." I implore you to seek higher moral ground.

If you really want to "do something," heal your own pain without inflicting more unnecessary pain and loss of life on other people's families, please.

"Suicide with guns is much more effective."

This one has been getting more airplay in the anti-rights circles lately, and it is considered by some to be the most effective argument in the "control guns because of suicide" conversation -- so I will give it some extra, graphic time. 

I had one local anti-self-defense/anti-rights leader tell me this one to my face recently. When I attempted to explain that people who choose a gun know this in advance and that is WHY they choose a gun, I was met with the closed mind now typical of the truly one-minded rights violators. That half-hearted attempts at suicides are just that -- attempts, not convicted commitments -- was a fact she refused to discuss, as many do.  But let's deal with it here, since your mind is more open than hers was.

First, imagine for a moment -- hypothetically, please -- that you wanted to kill yourself. And that you were really committed to seeing it through. And that you wanted it to be fast -- instant if possible -- and relatively painless. What would you choose? Unless you are not afraid of heights and falling, and most of us are, your most intelligent choice would most likely be a gun. (Buckshot through a shotgun, to the head in one of three areas, to be specific.)

With Chemicals

Pills can make you sick as a dog but not kill you, and if you have to get your stomach pumped, you will know the meaning of Living Hell, I'm told.  I have talked to two people who had their stomachs pumped; it's a memorable experience. With pills there is also the chance of being found in your stupor and rushed to the hospital, and if you really wanted to leave, this would be a nuisance to your planned journey. You don't have to trust me on that; call your local hospital and ask how many stomachs they pump every year. Then, consult your local psychologist about suicide and you will find that people who use lesser-effective means are usually crying out for attention, not a face to face meeting with God.

Razor Blades

A razor blade across your wrist isn't just a little sting; it hurts. And unless you make a very deep cut, you will bleed quite a bit but very possibly not die. I will share an intimate part of my own experience with my brother by telling you that he attempted suicide two years earlier -- with a razor blade. He bled all over his bed and into a cooler, wrote "I love you" in his own blood and laid there and suffered for hours. When morning came, before we were all up, he left the house and went and hid in bushes down the street, supposedly to wait to die. But he didn't cut deep enough, and he didn't really want to die; he walked home with a pale green hue to his skin to get medical and emotional help. We most certainly did consult professionals, and he told us himself that it was an attempt to get attention -- not a commitment to die. (It would take a small book to relay to you what we went through for two years before he truly chose to go.)

Jumpers

I don't mind heights too much. I've jumped out of airplanes at 12,500 feet, scaled mountains without ropes over areas where, had I fallen, I'd not have hit anything but air for more than 1,000 feet.  But most people would wet their pants looking out over a ledge, let alone have the gumption to do it. Jumping off of a tall building is significantly more effective than pills or razor blades, but the fear of heights and especially the fear of falling is quite a deterrent -- unless someone is really, really committed to dying. Like gun suicides, leaps to death are done by the committed, not the attention-seekers, but this method has its shortcomings that include the inconvenience of having to find the "appropriate" jumping point and getting up the nerve to face a fear that some experts say is greater than the fear of dying itself.

By Rope

Hanging oneself is also not a fun thing to do, nor a particularly easy one, for most people. I did know one person who hung himself. Though we were not particularly close, our mutual friends shared many details in hopes I could somehow shed light on the situation. Those details included pictures. One thing that was clear about the images was that he knew how to tie knots. Most people don't. He also had the sense to use a rope strong enough not only to hold his weight but take a fall of a few feet. And he was serious about doing the job, not just seeking attention. Judging by the fact that he hung himself in his backyard from his dad's favorite tree and left a very mean and nasty note, and judging by the fact that he planned his departure such that a specific family member would find him, it also seemed as though he wanted to hurt his family. Let's just say, for the sake of the "rope conversation," that most people don't like their air supply being cut off, and unless you do it such that you take a slight fall onto the rope and snap your neck, you will be dangling breathless, suffocating a bit before you are gone. Common sense says that unless done in a very specific way it will not be instant, and it can hurt if you don't know what you're doing, in more ways than one.

Other Methods

Then there are people, small percentages, that throw themselves in front of cars, busses and trains. That isn't a very nice thing to do to the driver, and surviving as a paraplegic isn't a fun way to view a future in a life you want to leave. Effective, yes. But likely painful, certainly messy, and it involves dragging other people into your choice to go. Then there are carbon-monoxide suicides. It's a very nasty way to die, but a very effective one if you don't mind being asphyxiated to death complete with choking and gasping before you "fall asleep" -- and being found with green skin and purple rings around your eyes. And the process of locking yourself in a garage or running a hose into your enclosed vehicle is not only a logistical issue, it isn't possible for people who generally spend time in close proximity to one another.

The Most Effective Way

So we come back to guns. Guns are the most effective means of self defense. They are also arguably the most effective means to cut your soul/spirit from your body. I will use my brother's legacy as an example. His second attempt was not intended to be an attempt at all; he used one of the most effective ways there is to kill yourself: a shotgun to his medulla oblongata. (The only way he could have increased the effectiveness would have been to use buckshot rather than 6 shot.) His body may have had one or two motor functions take place over the next 30 seconds after he pulled the trigger, but his central nervous system was done, and he was gone. Instantly. And you can believe he didn't feel a thing but for about 1/25th of one second, if that. Our mutual close friend who left a week later also used a shotgun, but to his heart. While more likely to yield pain for three or four more seconds, suffice it to say that his central nervous system and all motor functions were effectively cut off, permanently. He wanted to die, he said so in plain English in his note to us, and that was that. The deaths of my two loved ones was instant and permanent, as they wished.

Another facet of using a gun to commit suicide is portability. Our family was fortunate enough to have had my brother drive some 150 or so miles away from the house and pull over at a lovely roadside rest area to make his exit. He locked the car, put the keys in his pocket, laid down, goodbye -- sparing us images to live with for the rest of our lives. It is not uncommon for people to travel away from their families to leave this world, and a gun makes that choice easier to facilitate. You can take it just about anywhere.

So when you say "guns are more effective as a suicide method" or "the completion ratio with guns is much higher," you are correct. They are usually instant, they are portable, and if someone knows what they are doing, pain should be minimal or nonexistent. There is no chance of someone finding you two hours into your 6 hour departure, and the chances of failing are very slim -- if you know your gun and your physiology. Quite the effective suicide weapon. But to pickle the anti-gunner's cucumber: People who choose a gun, point it at the the vital areas of their body and pull the trigger know this, and they don't want to be here any more. I challenge you to finish this article to find out just how wrong you are about trying to take away the rights of old women and young, nursing mothers because those people quit life.

 

I almost got pulled into the Grandma Right-Stripper.

For a time, after my own brother chose to leave this world, I found myself shunning guns. I owned several firearms at the time, and Michael and I used to hunt together -- but I didn't want much to do with guns for a while. I sold those I owned, quit providing my food from the fields altogether, quit shooting and stayed far away from guns for a couple of years. Though I never did go to any such place as to call for the infringing on other people's rights, had there been an anti-rights propaganda machine standing by to sweep me into its Red March, who knows? I might have lost it. It is unlikely I'd have worked to strip people of their rights as my parents raised me better than that, but the anti-gun/anti-self-defense propaganda machine is really good at twisting facts, figures, numbers and emotions to suit their socialist agenda. When caught off guard and in emotional turmoil, even the best person can fall.  I didn't, Thank God.

Fortunately, I had a real life experience that led me to understand the importance of guns in our society and in my own life. I made a trip to Los Angeles, by car, and realized quickly, at a roadside rest area, just how dangerous some areas of our inner cities can be. Without belaboring the experience, suffice it to say that being among 20 or 30 gang-bangers who have knives and clubs and mean looks on their faces can have quite an effect on a person. I "repacked".  And I have kept a self-defense firearm handy ever since.  I refuse to be a victim; I am a self-determinant human being. Unlike my brother, I choose to live. That is my choice, my life is important to me, and I take my commitment to stay alive and well very seriously -- seriously enough to stop another in his tracks if he picks me as his mark and foolishly attempts to bring me or those around me any harm.

While suicide is a truly baffling and deeply painful ordeal, mental rigor is still very much required in order to accurately and intelligently address the issue of preventable and unjustified violence.  Falling into the trap of ignoring reason and logic - simply because your friend or relative chose to quit life - is a disservice to the people you loved and lost, and an effrontery to the very freedom of our nation and her fair citizens. The gun-owning pregnant mothers of the world didn't shoot your loved one, and it's not right to make them submit to armed thugs and suffer accordingly just because you suffer.

For me to use Michael's death to push for the infringing upon the natural right of self-defense (gun control) would not only be wrongful abuse of free people's rights, doing so would desecrate my brother's grave. He pulled the trigger. That was his choice, not mine. Asking someone's daughter to die at the hand of a raping and murdering thug by removing her means of stopping him from assaulting her simply because I can't find a better way to resolve my own anguish would be like killing someone else's cat because my cat died. It's that insane.

 

FACTS, STATISTICS AND STUDIES

Maybe some facts will help you get logical about this situation. Sometimes, after losing someone we love with all our hearts, so many emotions run so wildly and deeply, turning the lights on in our rational minds is an exceptionally productive exercise. Try some of these on for size...

Real Numbers and Common Sense

According to the Center for Disease Control (who I have no reason to believe any more than I believe any federal government agency, but I am willing to use their statistics because they are accepted widely), 

"In the United States, there were 32,436 gun deaths in 1997. Of these: 41.7% (13,522) were homicides/legal intervention [killed by law enforcement]; 1.1% (367) were of undetermined intent; 54.2% (17,566) were suicides; and 3.0% (981) were unintentional." (source)

Taking the commonly used number of gun owners of 83,000,000 and dividing it by the number of suicides in the above year, we find that only 1 in every 4,727 gun owners committed suicide that year in America. Keeping in mind that they all did it by choice, and considering that the other 82,982,434 gun owners had nothing at all to do with that choice, can you understand how it's not very balanced or even sane to ask them to bear the responsibilities and burdens of those dead people's choices?  Punishing 4,727 people for the actions of 1 person who made a choice you don't agree with is not only irrational, it is bizarre.  

And, while I'm sure those 4,727 innocent and not-connected-to-the-source-of-your-pain people would send you love and prayers for your full and easy healing, I trust you can understand, as well, why they'd not appreciate bearing the burden of laws brought about by someone who chose to quit life. Asking those 4,727 gun owners to face life under the thumb of your proposed grandma-infringing, access-stripping laws because of a choice one person made takes quite a bit of gall and insensitivity -- and selfishness. Stand up, rise up to the sheer logic of what I just said, and be courageous enough to find that it is true with a capital T.

They'll Do It Anyway

Then you might look to the fact that people who are committed to dying are going to go through with it, whether they have a gun or not. Among many studies, Gary Kleck's Targeting Guns: Firearms and Their Control (p 285, Walter de Gruyter, Inc., New York, 1997), offers the following:

The full body of relevant studies indicates that firearm availability measures are significantly and positively associated with rates of firearm suicide, but have no significant association with rates of total suicide.

Of thirteen studies, nine found a significant association between gun levels and rates of gun suicide, but only one found a significant association between gun levels and rates of total suicides. The only study to find a measure of "gun availability" significantly associated with total suicide...used a measure of gun availability known to be invalid.

This pattern of results supports the view that where guns are less common, there is complete substitution of other methods of suicide, and that, while gun levels influence the choice of suicide method, they have no effect on the number of people who die in suicides.

If someone is going to kill him or herself anyway, why does it make sense to make an arthritic old man easier to accost by removing his right and means to defend himself with the same measure of effectiveness used by criminals? Unless you are going to ban all death-producing pills, all tall buildings, all knives or other wrist-slashing devices, all access to enclosed places where car exhaust can be accumulated...you'll not be stopping suicide with laws. 

If you do see your anti-self-defense crusade being carried to that unfathomable extreme, please include rocks, beer bottles, pool cues, axe handles, shovels, pencils, and any other hard or sharp objects to legislate your "safe society." Then explain why gun-banned Britain has a violent crime rate with weapons other than guns that surpasses that of the United States as reported by the stridently anti-gun Dan Rather on CBS News. And I quote:

"The UK has a crime problem and, believe it or not, except for murder, theirs is worse than ours. ~~ Dan Rather, CBS Special Report, July, 2000

The resolution to suicide is psychological, emotional and spiritual, not legislative.

Other Countries as Clear Examples

Japan's example destroys the "guns and/or their availability cause suicide" myth. In Japan, less than 1% of the households have a gun, but total suicide is higher than in the United States where 25-50% of the households have a gun. If guns and/or their presence in our society are causal in those unfortunate and painful losses, how can you explain Japan and still hold your rationale? I truly want to hear your answer. Director@KeepAndBearArms.com 

And if you compare suicide rates and suicide-by-gun rates in various countries alongside those of the United States, an even more obvious reality emerges: people kill themselves at rates, in some countries, significantly higher per capita than here in America -- including in places where gun ownership is so strictly prohibited you will go straight to jail (or the morgue) for having one. In other words, less guns in those societies but more people per capita dying of suicide deflates the "guns and/or their availability cause suicide" myth even further. No, actually, it annihilates it.

Iain Murry said a mouthful when he said: 

"It is safe to say that buying a gun does not mean that you're more likely to go from being content to being suicidal."

Then we could look at, for another example, Danish suicides. In "Without Guns Do People Kill People?" 75 Amer. J. Pub. Health 587 (1985) (comparing U.S. and Danish murder), we find the following telling description of how numbers are used against American gun owners and ownership itself, and how the use of suicide numbers to attempt to bolster an illogical anti-gun-ownership stance:

"Anti-gun sages have seized on a new device so they do not have to deal with embarrassing facts. They conceal declining American homicides (particularly gun homicides) by combining suicide and murder statistics, producing an "Intentional Homicide" rate that they then claim to be "caused" by widespread gun ownership. Yet these same anti-gun academics continue to compare the American murder rate (alone) to the murder rates of specially selected foreign countries--without mentioning that virtually every country they select to compare has an enormously higher suicide rate than the United States. For instance, Prof. Baker, the originator of the combined homicide-suicide approach, compares American and Danish murder rates, placing great emphasis on the fact that the American rate is higher by about 7 per 100,000 population. Yet Baker somehow forgets to mention that making the same comparison of suicide rates would show the Danish have 16.5 more deaths per 100,000 than the Americans. Nor, of course, does Baker mention that when suicide and murder figures are combined, the Danish death rate per 100,000 is almost 50 percent higher than the American."

To synopsize the point immediately above, suicide statistics are used against American gun ownership in a double standard. "Don't count other countries' suicides in their death-by-gun rates, but count them in ours." This is one of dozens of methods socialists bent on gun restrictions and gun banning use to twist facts and figures to make people formulate flawed opinions -- and it is insulting to the intelligence of the American people. And the revelations that come from looking even deeper reveal not only insult, but sheer and arrogant impudence. Before you continue to support gun restrictions or gun bans in your quest to "do something" about suicide, you are urged to read the above book, where you will find a host of facts your local gun blamer won't tell you, including the following:

Of 18 nations for which figures were available, the United States ranks only eleventh in intentional homicide. The U.S. combined homicide and suicide rate is less than half the suicide rate alone in gun-banning Hungary and less than one-third the suicide rate alone of gun-banning Rumania. New Zealand ranks sixteenth despite a rate of gun ownership that far exceeds the U.S. rate. The lowest rate on the table is for Israel, a country that actually encourages and requires almost universal gun ownership. (p.42)

In other words, I'll put it this way:

We have countries with low gun ownership and unusually high suicide rates, and we have countries with high gun ownership and unusually low suicide rates. Perhaps suicide-suffering and/or suicide-exploiting gun controllers should find alternative roads to their socialist ends; this one seems to be closed.

I'll close our Fact-based Reality Check with a quote from All The Way Down the Slippery Slope: Gun Prohibition in England and Some Lessons for Civil Liberties in America by Joseph E. Olson and David B. Kopel:

In 1903, Parliament enacted a gun control law that appeared eminently reasonable. The Pistols Act of 1903 forbade pistol sales to minors and felons and dictated that sales be made only to buyers with a gun license. The license itself could be obtained at the post office, the only requirement being payment of a fee. People who intended to keep the pistol solely in their house did not even need to get the postal license.

The Pistols Act attracted only slight opposition, and passed easily. The law had no discernible statistical effect on crime or accidents. Firearms suicides did fall, but the decline was more than matched by an increase in suicide by poisons and knives.

A rational, sane, mentally-capable person using suicide to call for restrictions on guns and their lawful owners must be ignorant of these facts in order to justify their calls. With the above information, anyone who still says reducing access to guns will reduce suicides is a liar -- a liar who cares more about a personal political agenda than about the rights of innocent citizens to protect themselves.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Not only is the use of suicides in addressing the issue of violence an unfair and unrealistic tactic, it is a blatant disregard for the true need to reduce preventable deaths and injuries, by gun or any other means, and is an irrational and emotionally immature place from which to "deal with" losing a loved one. Furthermore, punishing 4,727 people for each unhappy member of our society who chose to stop exercising his or her right to life is not only rude and irresponsible, when it costs women their sexual dignity or their very lives and when it costs families their precious loved ones, it is socially unacceptable to the point of being criminal.

There are painful things that happen in life, and suicide is right up there at the pinnacle of agony thresholds. I know; I've been through it. But killing other people by stripping them of the means to stop murderous attackers in order to "feel like you're doing something" is wrongheaded, self-centered and immoral at its very core. Perhaps a survivor of suicide caught up in the anti-self-defense/anti-rights crusade would best serve our society by first understanding a basic and self-evident statement from a Justice Casey Percell:

"It is not the responsibility of the government or the legal system to protect a citizen from himself."

And to that I add,

Were we to delve rationally into suicide and the gun issue, we would necessarily ask the following question: Is it morally or ethically sound to punish the lawful living for the acts of those who disobeyed the ban on suicide and therefore criminally misused a gun to do themselves in?

Blaming a gun is a simple scapegoat during an emotionally trying healing process, but as I believe I have shown, attacking guns and self-defense/liberty-defense rights is not a reasonable answer, nor a valid one. I have yet to hear someone blame a razor blade or a rope for their loved one's death. And I don't think the families of suicide "victims" who chose a rope, pills, a sharp object or a long fall really cared what method they used; the result was still the same. If my brother had jumped off of a tall building, he would not be any less dead. Guns are a politically-correct target, not an sensible one.

If I could offer a gentle word of wisdom from experience to a grieving person who is healing the pain of suicide, I would say this:

I'm with you in your pain. I know it hurts very deeply. I also know that your pain will lessen and then one day be gone. You can do it. You can and will heal.

And while you are healing, please respect the rights of little old ladies and young new mothers to defend their own precious lives and dignities. They choose to stay here on this Earth until their natural departure time arrives. Asking them to submit to death prematurely at the hands of a bad person by taking their means of self-defense away is only inviting their own families and loved ones to suffer the pain of loss that you now suffer. Please, in respect for those of us who choose to live, stop supporting gun control -- and study this issue objectively.

Angel Shamaya is the Founder and Executive Director of KeepAndBearArms.com, an internet-based grassroots organization whose purpose revolves around making sure the right of the people to keep and bear arms is returned in full to every American. For more information about the organization, visit http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com. If you like what you see, memberships are welcome and greatly appreciated: http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/custaccount 


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 QUOTES TO REMEMBER
Gun control? It's the best thing you can do for crooks and gangsters. I want you to have nothing. If I'm a bad guy, I'm always gonna have a gun. Safety locks? You will pull the trigger with a lock on, and I'll pull the trigger. We'll see who wins. Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, whose testimony convicted John Gotti.

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