In Albany County, encompassing the capital of New York State, the county legislature recently passed a new law imposing a requirement for all gun shop owners to post safety notices in their stores. That may not sound all that unusual since gun safety and proper firearms training is important in terms of safety issues. But these new warning signs are something different. They caution potential customers that having a gun inside of their residence increases the risk of suicide, domestic violence, or accidental death. At Bearing Arms, our colleague Tom Knighton points out the fruitless nature of this effort and the reasons that such a warning is essentially pointless.
Now, here’s the issue. That warning is bogus. First, let’s talk about suicide. Yes, statistics show a higher rate of gun suicides among those who own guns. That’s an absolute fact. It’s also meaningless.
People who buy guns to kill themselves become gun owners in the process. If they take that gun home, which many do, then they have guns in the home. That’s bound to skew results all on its own.
Further, gun owners who happen to want to take their own lives are going to be more inclined to use a firearm, not because of some inherent danger of the gun, but because the media keeps going on and on about how “effective” it is for taking your own life.
Tom goes on to explain what should already be obvious. Whether you’re talking about suicide or domestic violence, a gun is an inanimate object with no will of its own and no ability to impose its “will” on a human being. If a person is suicidal, they will find a way to end their life. Yes, guns are an effective way to do that and they are the most common method of suicide among men. (For women, poison is the most common choice.) But if you’re not suicidal, simply having a firearm in your house isn’t going to make you suicidal.
The same goes for domestic violence. If a man is prone to committing physical violence against his spouse (because let’s face it, it’s almost always a man), the lack of a firearm isn’t going to stop him. Baseball bats, golf clubs, and even his bare hands can be just as effective. Crazy people do crazy things, unfortunately.
I will grant you that having a gun inside of a home technically increases the chance of death or injury caused by an accidental discharge. But that’s just a matter of definitions. A household without any firearms has a zero percent chance of an accidental discharge taking place. Households with firearms have a non-zero chance. But proper training in firearm storage and handling can reduce that chance to very near zero. That’s why such training is nearly universally required. If people fail to follow those rules, the responsibility for any negative outcome falls on them, not on the firearm.
The real intent of this bill was obviously to try to scare first-time firearm buyers away from completing the purchase. As usual, the goal of the Democrats was to reduce levels of legal gun ownership as much as possible while ignoring the problem of illegal guns being used in actual crimes. The Republicans in the legislature attempted to pass a couple of amendments to include warnings about the dangers of illegal, stolen guns in the hands of criminals, but the Democrats voted those amendments down. That should probably tell you all you need to know about their priorities.