Dear Editor: Gun violence, particularly in our schools, terrifies us, but suicide deaths from firearms happen far more frequently. Of the more than 33,000 firearms deaths in the U.S., 60 percent are suicides. Suicide is the second-leading cause of death in people ages 10-34, not school gun violence. In Wisconsin, we lose over 870 people a year to suicide.
More than half of all suicides involve a firearm. Putting time and space between a person in crisis and the most lethal means available to take their life, namely a firearm, buys time for intervention, a change of mind, a chance to let the crisis pass and a life be saved. Reinstating the 48-hour waiting period for firearm purchases is an effective way to put time and space between a person in crisis and the means they intend to use to end their life.
We can reduce suicides by gun owners by having the option of Lethal Violence Protection Orders. This legislation says if police or family notice see behavior in someone in a crisis that shows danger to themselves or others, they can obtain a court order, using due process, to have a firearm temporarily removed from the home. When the person is out of crisis, the firearm is returned in this completely civil process that leaves behind no criminal or mental health incompetence stigma.
Establishing a waiting period and a civil process to allow temporary removal of weapons from a person in crisis is proven effective for reducing suicides, and if these actions slow down a school shooting, or violent homicide, then all the better.
Member, Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety
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