An Important Study on Gun Suicide.

Our good friend Matt Miller, along with a team of researchers, has just published an important article on suicide and guns, which finds that when a woman who isn’t a gun owner cohabits with someone who becomes a gun owner, the odds that the non -gun owning woman will commit suicide using her partner’s newly-acquired gun goes up. The online article is available now.

The data for this study comes out of California, which keeps some pretty accurate records on handgun purchases (at least legal purchases) and on mortality, combined with the state’s voter registration lists. Together, this information allowed Miller and his colleagues to come up with an accurate profile of when women commit suicide relative to when someone else in the residence acquires a gun.

The intention of the study was to answer the following question: “Does risk of suicide among women change when someone with whom they live in a handgun-free home lawfully acquires a handgun?” And the answer to that question, based on looking at the data covering 9.5 million women who lived in California between 2004 and 2016 is — yes.

Wow! What a surprise. Guns are lethal? Guns are dangerous? Guns kill people who live in homes which contain guns? To quote Grandma this time — can you imagine such a ‘ting?

But all kidding and sarcasm aside, what’s important about this study is that it is one of the few before and after studies on gun violence and it confirms that bringing a handgun into a gun-free home has consequences that are not what legal gun ownership is supposed to be all about.

You don’t go into the local gun shop and plunk down six hundred bucks to buy a Glock so that you can shoot the chipmunks that come around to nibble on the flowers you planted last year. You don’t come home with a Sig, or a Beretta because you want to knock little Robin Redbreast out of the tree.

But hold on just one friggin’ minute. How’s about all those ANTIFA people burning down the place? How’s about all those BLM momsers running around for George Floyd? And what happens when ISIS lands a detachment on the Delaware River and invades Philadelphia? Or God forbid the ‘element’ takes advantage of the Pandemic and tries to loot my house.

Don’t I need a gun to protect myself from all that? And by the way, doesn’t the 2nd Amendment give me the ‘right’ to keep a handgun in my home to protect me and my loved ones from any kind of threat? Isn’t that what the Supreme Court said in 2008?

The good news about this research published by Matt Miller and friends is that what they are really trying to do is inject a bit of reality into the gun debate. The truth is that for every time someone picks up a gun and uses it in an act of legal, self-defense, forty people or more pick up a gun and use it to kill themselves or murder someone else.

But the real problem underscored by this new research is that it’s not just the owner of the gun who is facing a risk by having a gun, it’s the gun-owner’s domestic partner who also may be confronting a greater health risk because she is now living in a house where there’s a gun.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that the risk will be reduced by locking the gun or locking the gun away. Sooner or later the gun will be left around unlocked, or the non-gun owner will use the same secure space to store some jewelry she wants to wear.

One of these days the medical community will hopefully stop pretending that having a gun around the house is like having a car in the driveway. All you have to do to keep the gun ‘safe’ is to lock it up or lock it away, right?

To the credit of Matt Miller and his colleagues, they did not qualify gun access in terms of whether guns were locked, locked away or not locked and left out. The same finding about the risk of guns for increased suicide rates was published by Art Kellerman and Fred Rivara thirty years ago although their research did not differentiate between male versus female suicide.

How much more research do we need to explain that if you take a loaded gun, point it at yourself or someone else and pull the trigger, the gun will go bang and you or someone else will either be terribly injured or dead?

As Grandpa would say, ‘shain zeit’ (read: enough already.)

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