Friday, September 12, 2014

Preventing Suicides at Gun Ranges

Delmarva Now

The Target Sports Range in Royal Oak, Michigan, after experiencing 12 suicide attempts in as many years, instituted a policy preventing individuals from obtaining a gun if they are not known by range instructors. A list of those denied access to a firearm is maintained; those individuals will be turned away in the future.

City Commissioner Peggy Goodwin praised the proactive response. “If these were homicides, something would have been done after the first one. Because it’s suicide no one wants to even talk about it. I want to talk about preventing it.”

It isn’t just in Michigan. The Orange County Register, using data from coroners’ reports, documented 64 suicides at public ranges in three California counties in the 12-year period studied. The common denominator is easy, unregulated access to a firearm.

The Daily Times headline was: “Should firing ranges be age-restricted?” What we know about brain development and function tells us clearly the answer is “yes.” The last segment of the brain to be fully developed and integrated into the rest of the brain’s functions is the prefrontal area. This is where we learn to assess the long-term implications of actions, control impulses and make basic value judgments.

In some cases this development is not complete until age 25. In the Arizona case, clearly accidental and not a failure of judgment, brain maturation was probably not at fault. But with range-related suicides of young people, it is.

Should we put deadly weapons into the hands of young people at all? Is the wise solution, as Arie Klapholz suggested, to “teach young persons to properly use and respect guns and rifles?” One common reaction to the suicide of a young person in a gun-owning household is “I don’t understand it — he was trained to use guns safely.”

In the work we do at the Worcester County Youth Suicide Awareness and Prevention Program, we have learned this the hard way.

With rates of youth homicide and gun-related accidental deaths and youth suicide on the rise, it is undeniably in society’s best interests to keep guns out of the hands of young people.


  1. Ah yes, we return to people not really being adults until 25.

    1. Be consistent with this, across the board with drinking, driving, voting, military service, marriage, etc.
    2. Keep applying it to guns, and maybe alcohol knowing you.

    1. You'll alienate so much of the electorate you'll never win.
    2. You're a hypocrite.

    1. How about this just off the top of my head.

      driving - 16
      voting - 18
      military - 18
      marriage - 18
      gun ownership - 21
      concealed carry - 30

    2. On what basis are you going to put guns into the hands of 18 year olds and warp their poor, developing brain? Why would you do that if they can't be trusted to own guns?

      And why 21 instead of 25? Just guessing that they have enough final maturity?

      What about the 18 year olds who are married and have their own household? Or the singles on their own? Tough titty when it comes to defending themselves?

      Why 30? Even this article suggests they'd be fully developed for 5 years before this. Why cant the upper twenties carry and defend themselves? And why are under 30 year olds--even as young as 18--still eligible for military service, and presumably police service which will have them carrying a gun for a decade or more before this?

      All these questions boil down to: What is your basis for your ages you lay out? Why do you allow people below the gun ownership and carry ages use and carry guns, for up to 12 years, before the appropriate ownership and carry ages?
      And WHY are you bringing up the "you're not really adult until 25" argument to bolster your cause, when you aren't willing to tie ANYTHING to that age?

    3. I said it was off the top of my head, man. Lighten up. What would your minimum ages be for those activities?

    4. I see utility in allowing minors to drive, and think our current age system works for that. For the rest, I think once you're an adult, which we set at 18, you ought to be treated like one.