In Memory Of A Friend Who Died Today

I had a friend who posted a somewhat strange message on Facebook earlier today. I saw it at the time and just thought it a bit unusual. Within the last hour I found out that he had taken his own life sometime after that post. All I can feel is immense sadness that he felt this was the only way out of whatever was plaguing his soul.

What came to mind when I found out was this excerpt from John Donne’s Meditation XVII.

No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.

I am diminished.

UPDATE: The friend in question was Bob Owens who was the editor of BearingArms.com. He was found dead shortly after he posted the Facebook message I referred to above. I didn’t want mention his name before it really became public knowledge.

I was a longtime reader of Bob’s from his Confederate Yankee blog days and was excited for him when he was named editor of BearingArms.com. I first met Bob at the Lucky Gunner Bloggershoot in 2011 and would always see him at the NRA Annual Meeting. I spoke to him a few times over the weekend at the recent NRA Annual Meeting in Atlanta and he seemed like the Bob I had known for years. Reading what others have written and especially that of Jenn Jacques, I get the impression that whatever was plaguing Bob’s soul was well hidden.

Pray for Bob’s family and especially for his wife and daughters. They will need all of God’s love to get through this tragic period.

Andrew Branca has mentioned setting up a college fund for Bob’s daughters. When I know more about that, I will post about it.

If you feel that suicide is the only way out, reach out for help. The National Suicide Prevention Hotline number is 1-800-273-8255. Alternatively, email or message me. I’m not a trained psychologist but I am a good listener.

UPDATE II: A GoFundMe page has been set up to raise money for Bob’s widow and daughters.

Smart Move On The Part Of NSSF Regarding Suicide

30 to 33,000 deaths a year by firearms is the number that the gun prohibitionists love to throw around. This is intentionally misleading as the uneducated presume that all of these deaths are the result of criminal homicides. In reality, the large majority of these deaths are the result of a person taking his or her own life and using a firearm as the tool of their demise. Any check of CDC reports of vital statistics makes this clear.

This being said, regardless of what instrument someone chooses to use to take their own life, suicide is a serious issue and finding common ground on ways to reduce the numbers of deaths by suicide is important. The Second Amendment Foundation (and the NRA) found this to be true in Washington State where they joined with health professionals on a bill aimed at suicide prevention. Now the National Shooting Sports Foundation is joining with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to go nationwide with suicide prevention efforts.

This is a very smart move by the gun industry and one that should be applauded. A reduction in the number of suicides and treatment of the depression that might have engendered the suicide is good for all of society. Moreover, it helps to remove the focus from the instrument used to commit suicide and put it where it belongs:  on the root causes of the suicide itself. Finally, it shows that the gun culture is serious about working to alleviate this mental health issue unlike the gun prohibitionists who are content to clamor “guns, guns, guns, it’s the gun”.

A quick Google search indicates that news of the partnership is being picked up by the AP and a number of local news outlets. However, sad to say, I can’t find any mention of it by ABC, NBC, CNN, FoxNews, or CBS. The only suicide related news I can find there relates to Chelsea/Bradley Manning.


Here is the joint press release put out by NSSF and AFSP:

LAS
VEGAS — Of all firearms-related deaths in the U.S. in 2015, almost
two-thirds were suicide deaths, according to the 2015 Fatal Injury
Report, Center for Disease Control and Prevention. To help stem this
tragic loss of life, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation
(NSSF) today announced at the Shooting, Hunting and Outdoor Trade
(SHOT) Show in Las Vegas a partnership to launch a new firearms and
suicide prevention education program nationwide in 2017.
The
program brings together AFSP community-based Chapters and NSSF-member
organizations, including firearms retailers and range owners across the
country, to educate the gun-owning community about suicide, warning
signs, risk factors and the importance of securely storing firearms to
help prevent access in times of distress. A pilot of this program has
been ongoing in four states since August 2016.
“Of
all suicide deaths in our nation, nearly 50 percent are by firearm. By
increasing public education of firearms and suicide prevention, and by
encouraging the use of safe storage options and thus reducing access to
lethal means, we give suicidal individuals something they desperately
need: time. Time for the intense suicidal risk to diminish and time for
someone to intervene with mental health support and resources,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, AFSP’s Chief Medical Officer at a press conference today at the SHOT Show
in Las Vegas, the largest trade show in the world for professionals
involved with the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement
industries. “Research has shown that separating suicidal individuals
from a variety of lethal means can prevent suicide.”
Firearms
retailers and range owners are in a unique position to help disseminate
mental health and suicide prevention education materials, and safe
storage options to those who frequent their stores. With these public
education resources, the firearms-owning community can help spread the
word to those who may be concerned about a friend or family member who
may be at risk, and who may have access to a firearm.
“Our
partnership with AFSP allows us to expand our decades-long firearms
safety efforts to include suicide prevention education,” said Steve
Sanetti, NSSF’s President and CEO. “As the industry’s trade association
with more than 12,000 members, we want to help. By making gun owners and
the public more aware of suicide and responsible firearm storage, we
are confident that we will help save lives.”
The firearms and suicide prevention program is an expansion of a pilot
that began last August, in four states including Alabama, Kentucky,
Missouri, and New Mexico. In these four states, relationships between
AFSP Chapter volunteers and local shooting range owners, firearms retail
stores and gun show vendors shared resources on recognizing the risks
and warning signs of suicide and ways of reaching out to those who may
be struggling, including:
  • Talk Saves Lives: Firearms and Suicide Prevention,
    a community-based presentation that provides an overview and
    understanding of mental health and suicide, and the benefits of
    connecting with those who may be struggling.
  • Firearms
    and Suicide Prevention, a new brochure which includes sections on safe
    storage options, statistics about suicide, how to recognize the risks
    and warning signs of suicide, how to reach out to someone when you’re
    worried about them, and where to go for further resources.
  • Firearms
    and Suicide Prevention: Facilitator’s Guide for AFSP volunteers
    involved in the program who need instructional information on leading
    community-based programs.
  • A new webpage
    which will showcase an overview of the firearms and suicide prevention
    program and the latest news. The organizations are currently creating a
    short training video on how to have a caring conversation with someone
    who may be suicidal, which will be featured on the webpage, and is due
    to be released in spring 2017.
“When
I first heard about this partnership I was really encouraged. Working
with experts in the field, we have been trying to teach gun owners about
suicide prevention on a local level for a while – and so far it’s been a
bootstrap effort, recruiting one firearms retailer at a time. But by
expanding the education and suicide prevention program nationally, we
will have a much easier time convincing retailers to get involved
because NSSF is a name they trust,” said Dick Abramson, President and
CEO of the Centennial Gun Club
in Colorado. “At a weekly ladies’ night we hold at the Centennial Gun
Club, we have already brought in a suicide prevention expert to speak on
this topic. The questions asked were insightful and the audience was
extremely interested. So we know there is a real thirst in the community
for this kind of education.”
-30-
About Project 2025
Launched
in October 2015, Project 2025 is a high-impact, collaborative
initiative developed by AFSP, aimed at achieving the organization’s bold
goal of reducing the annual suicide rate 20 percent by 2025. Using a
dynamic systems model approach based on what the evidence tells us about
suicide, AFSP has determined a series of actions and critical areas to
help us reach our goal. With this approach we reach across all
demographic and sociological groups to have the greatest impact for
suicide prevention and the potential to save thousands of lives within
the next 10 years. If we work collectively to expand the above
interventions in key area (Firearms, Emergency Departments, and in Large
Healthcare Systems) – cumulatively, we can expect to save nearly 20,000
lives through 2025.

About NSSF
The National Shooting Sports Foundation
is the trade association for the firearms industry. Its mission is to
promote, protect and preserve hunting and the shooting sports. Formed in
1961, NSSF has a membership of more than 12,000 manufacturers,
distributors, firearms retailers, shooting ranges, sportsmen’s
organizations and publishers. Through its Project ChildSafe program,
“Own It? Respect It. Secure It.” campaign and other initiatives, NSSF
promotes the safe and responsible use and storage of firearms and makes
available many firearm safety resources at ProjectChildSafe.org.

About AFSP
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by
suicide. AFSP creates a culture that’s smart about mental health through
education and community programs, develops suicide prevention through
research and advocacy, and provides support for those affected by
suicide. Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and
with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters
in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates
30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement. Learn more about
AFSP in its latest Annual Report, and join the conversation on suicide
prevention by following AFSP on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube

I Think Tom Might Be Correct – We Need An Asst AG For The Second Amendment

Tom Gresham made the suggestion on his show Sunday that the Trump Department of Justice should have a special Assistant Attorney General for the protection of the Second Amendment. He referenced how DOJ sent armies of lawyers to the South after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Heller and McDonald decisions confirmed that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms and that right applies in the states. However, the current DOJ is doing nothing to protect that individual civil right.

I think Tom is on to something.

Having just read of the latest attack on the Second Amendment and the gun culture coming out of New Jersey, I think this is doubly true. An ostensibly anti-suicide bill would create onerous requirements on gun ranges that would force them to close. As the 7th Circuit decided in the Ezell v. Chicago, gun ranges are an essential part of the Second Amendment.

From the Association of New Jersey Rifle and Pistol Clubs:

The bills as presently written would require the owner or operator of every range and gun club to verify that every range user has an FID card, NJ carry permit, or pistol purchase permit, along with government-issued photo ID, every time that person uses the range. That is an impossible burden for most ranges to meet – most ranges are unstaffed or staffed sporadically by volunteers. Few ranges have staff during all operating hours. NO SHOOTING ACTIVITY COULD OCCUR ON ANY RANGE THAT IS NOT STAFFED TO VERIFY CREDENTIALS.

The bills as presently written would also prevent you from using your own firearms on a range unless the range first verifies your credentials, every time you use the range, and bans all temporary transfer on a range unless the range verifies the credentials of both the transferor and transferee. THIS IMPACTS A HUGE SWATH OF SECOND AMENDMENT ACTIVITY, INCLUDING TRAINING, COMPETITION, TARGET PRACTICE, OPEN HOUSES, RANGE GUESTS, HUNTER EDUCATION, WOMEN’S EVENTS, ETC. (see below for detailed examples).

I think of the ranges that I have open to me in western North Carolina. The indoor ranges are staffed and could meet the requirements of such a bill. However, the NC Wildlife Resources Range at Cold Mountain (yes, that Cold Mountain) and the ranges in the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests are neither staffed nor have Range Safety Officers. These free and/or inexpensive places to shoot would have to be shut down.

Sebastian is correct when he concluded:

This would essentially close every club in New Jersey. It would make it impossible to bring new shooters into the sports, since they would essentially need to apply for and receive an FID card before they could even try it out. This would destroy the shooting culture in New Jersey, and that’s exactly what it’s intended to do. Suicide prevention is a ruse. Christie has shown a willingness to veto legislation like this, and will probably continue to do so as long as he’s in office, but it’s going to be hell to pay if Christie is replaced with an anti-gun Democrat.

 If you live in New Jersey, I suggest that you do as the ANJRPC says and contact your legislators. As to the idea of a special Assistant Attorney General for the Second Amendment, I’m not sure how to contact the incoming Trump Administration directly. However, you could send the suggestion to Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) at his Senate offices.

Interesting Statistic

John at the Boats and Bullets blog had the fortitude both to read through a Media Matters article and then to find something useful in it. He’s a better man than I!

The MMFA article was quoting “research” by well-known anti-gun Harvard researchers David Hemenway and Matthew Miller regarding firearms used in suicide attempts. What John found was interesting.

Let’s read that last sentence again… “Attempts involving drugs or cutting, which account for more than 90% of all suicidal acts, prove fatal far less often.” So guns are used less than 10% of the time… and they’re the biggest problem? Interesting…

As the “Coffee Talk” lady used to say on SNL… “Talk amongst yourselves.”

Go and read John’s blog post for the full story.