Category Archives: Suicide

Disgraceful gun bill endangers veterans: Army vet

by Lindsey Donovan, USA Today, March 29, 2017 [All 3 Chester County congressmen–Reps. Costello (R-6), Meehan (R-7) and Smucker (R-16)–voted for the bill, which passed the US House on March 16 and went to the Senate. See Tom Buglio’s comment on HR 1181 here.].

This isn’t about the Second Amendment. It’s about protecting those who served us so bravely.

I am a proud veteran of the Army. The seven Army Values are a part of my moral DNA. Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are at the heart of who I am today.

These values serve as the backbone to every servicemember who has served or is still serving in our armed forces, and they deserve better than what our federal lawmakers have given them. Instead of protecting our most vulnerable veterans — men and women with severe mental illness — the House recently passed a bill that made it easier for them to get guns.

Our veteran population is facing a devastating suicide crisis. Every day, 20 veterans take their lives — not surprisingly, two-thirds of them use a gun. And the veteran suicide rate is more than 20% higher than for civilian Americans. Yet in the midst of this crisis, our elected officials voted to remove from the background check system nearly 170,000 records of veterans with severe mental illnesses. These veterans will now be able to purchase and possess firearms, even if they have been determined to be incapable of managing their own affairs….

read more at USA Today

Costello & Meehan OK guns for Mentally Ill Vets

by Tom Buglio

The country is divided –on so many issues, guns being a perfect example. As someone who advocates for gun violence reduction, it has been a real struggle to find any common ground with gun rights advocates. I was hoping that keeping guns out of the hands of those with mental problems could be one of those areas; especially after the tragic and highly publicized shootings such as Aurora, Newtown and Tucson. All three are examples of someone with a mental illness using a firearm with tragic consequences. Surely, we can all agree that people who are mentally unstable, unbalanced, or with a full blown diagnosis of mental illness should not have access to a gun?

US Reps Costello and Meehan apparently do not think so.

President Bush signed a bill after the Virginia Tech tragedy where 32 people were gunned down by a mentally disturbed student in 2007, that required all federal agencies, including the VA, to submit names of people in their care to the National Instant Background Check (NICS) prohibited list when deemed too dangerous to own a gun.

This week’s successful vote on HR1181 – Vet’s 2nd Amendment Protection Act, will effectively cancel this law, and demonstrates once again that our Republican Congress does the bidding of the NRA, to the detriment of the safety of the Veterans and their families. This bill will restore gun rights to 170,000 Vets who may pose a serious danger to themselves and others. Let’s look at the facts:

*20 Vets commit suicide every day
*15,000 Vets who have severe PTSD will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*19,000 Vets who have schizophrenia will get their gun rights restored (DLN 3/23/17)
*Vets have up to a 61% higher risk of suicide than the general public
*14 retired admirals and generals, including David Petraeus, sent a letter to Congress urging them against this bill

Supporters of the bill state that no ‘government bureaucrat’ should take a constitutional right away from vets, and have a provision for petitioning a judge to determine if a vet should loose their gun rights.

The ‘bureaucrats’ are actually medical professionals, psychologists and psychiatrists, who are in the best position to make the call on whether a Vet is a danger to himself.

I am disappointed in US Rep. Costello and Meehan, who talk a good game caring about vets and their well- being.

In a 2015 speech, Rep. Costello called for more awareness about suicide risk and PTSD among veterans. But a speech is just words, and as we can see in his vote, actions speak louder. It is really unfortunate that our Republican US Reps find it easier to support the gun rights agenda than the safety and care that our veterans so desperately need, and richly deserve.

The Hidden Gun Epidemic: Suicides

editorial, New York Times, 1/9/17. See also our post from States United to Prevent Gun Violence here including the quote “A gun in the home is 22x more likely to be used in a suicide, homicide, or unintentional shooting than for self defense.”

Ralph Demicco, a gun shop owner in Hooksett, N.H., was shocked in 2009 when three of his customers bought handguns and committed suicide over five days in separate shootings. He encountered firsthand the stark, barely noticed fact that more than 60 percent of the nation’s 30,000-plus gun deaths each year are acts of suicide, not accidents or homicidal attacks. In New Hampshire, where the suicide rate is 31 percent higher than the national average, over 85 percent of firearm deaths are suicides.

The dealer reviewed the shop’s surveillance tapes. There were no giveaway signs of the troubles driving these customers to shoot themselves. “It’s just an ugly, ugly thing,” Mr. Demicco later told researchers for Harvard University’s School of Public Health. “I decided I must become involved.”