At the risk of joining the echo chamber, I want to talk for a moment about gun violence.
But I don’t want to talk about criminal gun violence.
Click through that graph. See the red dots? Those are suicides.
Two-thirds of the 33,000 gun deaths annually in America are suicides. That’s more than 20,000 people killing themselves annually.
This is why I want to talk about gun control. I believe it would also reduce gun-related homicides and accidental gun deaths, a result that would also be amazing. But they’re much harder to argue about because we don’t have enough data and there are too many guns in circulation and blah blah blah blah.
I want to reduce the number of suicides.
BUT COLTON, PEOPLE DON’T NEED GUNS TO KILL THEMSELVES. THEY’LL FIND A WAY!
While there are many other ways people can kill themselves besides guns, readily-available guns offer the least friction. There’s no roap to tie, there’s no stool to fetch, there’s no blade and bathtub. Pull the trigger and you’re done.
And we know that removing means of suicide coincides with a drop in suicide rates. Why is this?
It’s because most people don’t really want to die.
They’re looking for an excuse to live. Any excuse. They’re lazy, like you and me and everyone else. If it’s hard to commit suicide, they’ll talk themselves out of it. Every minute of delay from the point of decision improves their chances of survival.
This is an aspect of suicide I had never considered until I listened to a podcast on the subject. It’s called means reduction and it works.
Even if gun control didn’t lower the instances of criminal gun use (though I’m convinced it would), wouldn’t it be worthwhile to save thousands of lives lost to suicide or accidental death? Shouldn’t it at least be a conversation? Are your guns really that important?
I’m not necessarily saying we need a complete gun ban. It’s a bit of a non-starter and I don’t think it would ever happen in the US. But there are things we could do to add friction and insight into firearm acquisition that could make a real difference. But first we have to have a more cogent conversation than the normal “BUT LIVES!” “BUT 2ND AMMENDMENT!” bullshit.