Why is the NRA Standing in the Way of Helping Suicidal Soldiers?

Suicide rates among our nation’s troops has reached epidemic levels, and nearly half of all those suicides have been committed with privately owned firearms, a fact which is apparently just fine with the National Rifle Association.

But that isn’t stopping the Pentagon and some members of Congress from pressing forward with trying to establish policies that would separate at-risk service members from their guns. As reported by the New York Times, senior Defense Department officials are in the process of designing a suicide prevention campaign that encourages friends and families of potentially suicidal service members to safely store or voluntarily remove personal guns from the home. Congress is reportedly set to take up a bill that would allow military mental health counselors and commanders to talk to troops about their guns.

Those counselors and other medical professionals are currently prevented from asking firearm related questions thanks to a gag rule, urged by the National Rifle Association, that blocks commanders and counselors from discussing gun safety with potentially suicidal troops and from collecting information from service members about lawfully owned weapons stored at home. Florida enacted a similar state-wide measure that the medical profession strongly opposed because of its harmful public health effects.

The new measure, which is drafted as an amendment to the defense authorization bill for 2013 has been passed by the House of Representatives but not the Senate. It would allow mental health professionals and commanders to ask service members about their guns if they have “reasonable grounds” to believe the person is at “high risk” of committing suicide or harming others.

As reported by the New York Times, according to Defense Department statistics, more than 6 of 10 military suicides are by firearms, with nearly half involving privately owned guns. When active-duty troops who live on bases or are deployed are identified as potentially suicidal, commanders typically take away their military firearms. But commanders do not have that authority with private firearms kept off base. This legislation is designed to help reach those troops.

The NRA has made it clear it will not support any legislation that allows for the confiscation of firearms, even if an individual is identified as high risk for suicide or violence against others and that it will pressure its Congressional supporters to oppose final passage. These are policies that have the backing of the military establishment because they understand the crisis in its ranks. If the NRA stands in the way of our military leadership finally taking proactive steps to help curb preventable gun violence and depths in its ranks then the organization will truly have blood on its hands.


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Photo from Leasepics via flickr.


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Matt B.
Matt B5 years ago

Dorothy N. posted "Matt, if you'd read things before leaping in with corporate talking points regardless of human issues under discussion, you'd understand that these are specifically suicidal soldiers."

First of Dorothy I don't have or use talking points, that's something the Left does, I just tell the truth as it relates to any particular subject. And yes there are suicidal soldiers, and there are suicidal policemen, mailmen, firefighters, and every other profession too. I cerainly wish they didn't have the problems that they do, but it in no way helps them and anyone else by attacking the rights of the sane and law abiding. Help is already there for these people, but they have to want to take it. If someone wants to kill themself then they will do it Dorothy. They won't say "Shit! The Gov't took my gun, I guess I'm going to have to live." There is no shortage of ways to kill oneself. So it is really pointless and unrealistic to use suicide and the threat of it as a justification for stripping a citizen of their rights and property.

Dorothy N.
Dorothy N5 years ago

Matt, if you'd read things before leaping in with corporate talking points regardless of human issues under discussion, you'd understand that these are specifically suicidal soldiers.

Anyone who coldly advocates this: '... The NRA has made it clear it will not support any legislation that allows for the confiscation of firearms, even if an individual is identified as high risk for suicide or violence against others and that it will pressure its Congressional supporters to oppose final passage. ... has no place in a discussion between sane adults.

Matt B.
Matt B5 years ago

This story leans to the left so hard the only way it can travel is in a circle. By far and way most soldiers don't end up suicidal. It is a gross abuse of authority and a violation of our highest law to try and strip innocent citizens, especially those who have or currently are serving our country's national defense, of their rights and property because of what someone else did. We don't base our rights in this country on the actions of criminals Jessica. If we did then we wouldn't see crap like this hit piece of yours on the NRA. Suicides kill themselves if they are truly serious, the rest are just asking for help in the wrong way. In point of fact as a matter of law, if someone is really suicidal, they can be forcibly locked up for a minimum of 72 hours during which time it can be determined whether or not they have a real problem. While locked up they would have no weapons. The gov't has no legitimate need for the powers being sought by it. If you want to talk to people about suicide it in no way requires that they gather information about firearms. Killing oneself is killing oneself, the type of method used to achieve suicide is not relevant to any discussion about it.

Ro H.
Ro H5 years ago

Big bucks

Winifred Beam Kessler

We should be passing legislation that requires ALL unlicensed or licensed firearms/weapons and ammunition be turned in to designated places of inspection/collection together with papers to prove place, time of purchase and ownership. They should be held for background/identity inspection of owners which would include fingerprinting and collection of a DNA sample. Only law enforcement personnel should have weapons with capacity to kill. If hunters of animals other than humans can prove that they are trained in the use of hunting weapons, use them only in legal hunting seasons for designated overpopulations of non-human animals, they can store their weapons to be "checked out" together with ammunition only during the legal seasons. When I was 15 years old, I was given a rifle for my birthday and taught to use it in target practice by my Father. We lived in a deep Southern culture where hunting was/is a major pastime for many men. I chose to never shoot a living being even though in Junior NRA competitions I placed in the top ten of young women in the U.S. at that time. I also was trained to use a bow and arrow and was a winner in the competitions I entered with that weapon, too. However, my desire to kill was never awakened and I am grateful. My Father had several guns, always kept in a locked and bolted cabinet in a locked and bolted closet to which only he had a key. He told me that from the time he was a teenager, throughout his long life as a semi-pro football player and l

Karen Howard
Karen H5 years ago

I agree with Larry C. and Krystyna H. If someone wants to commit suicide, they’ll find a way. Counseling is the answer. I knew a cop who “accidentally” shot himself with his service gun. The family knew it was suicide, but the incident was called an accident because of his ranking in the police department. I understand he’d tried other methods earlier—all called “accidents”—but no one thought it was a serious enough matter to get counseling for him.

Larry C.
Larry C.5 years ago

The stance of the NRA is correct. However the author of the story is unfairly targeting only guns and pushing for confiscation of arms by reason of mental health to "protect the vet". The author totally ignores those vets and soldiers that have taken their lives by overdose or other means. What about the police officers that have taken their own lives with their service or privately owned weapons? The answer to reducing suicide rates lies in increased counseling services and awareness by family and the military to step in and intervene when they have reason to believe the service member needs help. Arbitrarily empowering someone in a position of authority to confiscate a service members private weapons is a violation of the service member's rights and provides the basis for mass confiscation at will by any base commander without any controls for whatever reason he decides to use as justification.
Abuse of power is all too common in the military as it is.

steve l.
Past Member 5 years ago

Take the time to read the Second Amendment (which was written as a time-specific document during a time of armed British occupation troops). No guns except within a militia.

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago