The Trump administration has announced a new road map to prevent suicide among military troops and veterans. It focuses on enlisting community partners and launching a public awareness campaign. Critics in Congress say the plan is not proactive enough. It does address one issue that has been seen as politically taboo - access to guns. Guns are by far the deadliest method of suicide. But as NPR's Quil Lawrence reports, the Department of Veterans Affairs is cautious in broaching the topic.
This is what the Dr. Matt Miller, Suicide Prevention Program Director at the Department of Veteran Affairs had to say in NPR’s piece:
Miller says suicide is usually an impulsive act, but guns make it much more likely to be lethal. Safe storage of guns can mean giving a spouse the keys to a gun safe or getting guns out of the house during a time of crisis. And Miller has been encouraged that even some members of that powerful gun rights lobby are willing to get on board. Joe Bartozzi leads the National Shooting Sports Foundation.
From the VA website:
Other OMHSP partners include the National Shooting Sports Foundation, which is advancing efforts to put time and space between Veterans in crisis and lethal means such as firearms — an area Miller said will be a focus for the Suicide Prevention Program in the coming year. Miller also hailed Together With Veterans, the program on which OMHSP collaborates with Rocky Mountain MIRECC to support rural Veteran suicide prevention community-based networks.
Encouraging safe storage of firearms and allowing the family themselves to remove firearms in a time of crisis is one thing, but legislation (antis are itching to pass “safe storage” laws) and law enforcement involvement in the removal of firearms (red flag laws) will lead to confrontation when they show up at the door and can easily be abused. Slippery slope with what the VA is trying to do if they do it via laws/rules instead of purely education and outreach to families. Hopefully that’s going to be NSSF’s angle, which would be 100x better than Everytown’s.