Why I Will Never Own a Gun

I have never owned a firearm. I have never fired a weapon. I don’t think I’ve ever even touched a gun. Alright, I think I may have fired a BB-rifle when I was in cub scouts. But that’s about it.

Probably the initial reason why I’ve never owned a gun is simply because I grew up in a family without guns. Hunting was never part of my childhood. And we didn’t have guns for any other reason either. Guns just weren’t part of my world growing up, and so they never became part of my world as an adult.

But I have another reason why I don’t own a gun now, and why I will never own one. It’s not political. It’s not idealistic. It’s actually for my own survival, and for the well-being of my family. I will never own a gun, because I believe that if I ever do, my survival will be in jeopardy.

According to the Brady Campaign, nearly two-thirds of gun-related deaths in the United States are suicides. And I know that if I had owned a gun during the last twenty years, I would very likely be among that statistic. Suicidal thoughts come to me from time to time. It’s part of depression, at least in my case. These thoughts can sometimes be intense, but their intensity does not last long. There are moments when I am sure that suicide is the right choice, but they’re moments. It takes time to plan it. It takes time to build up the courage to follow through on those plans. And it takes an awful lot of effort, effort that is not easy when depression is strong. By the time I would actually be able and ready to follow through, the intensity has long since passed. I haven’t actually attempted suicide since I was 17, because I now have tools and resources that keep the “intense time” shorter, and help me pull out of those crevasses more quickly. And so I’m really not a danger to myself. Gratefully, it’s been almost twenty-five years since I climbed the tree in West Allentown, the last time I actually had the motivation and courage to follow through with the intention to end my life. (And even then, I didn’t have the stamina to push all the way through.)

But there is a method of suicide that would short-circuit all this. If I had a gun and ammunition at my disposal? So much less time. So much less effort. So much less time to change my mind, and so much less chance of failing the attempt. It would be so easy for me, in a particularly dark moment, to just do it. I’ve had those moments. And I know I will again.

So I will not allow myself to own a gun. No handgun. No rifle. No shotgun. Nothing like that. It’s not safe. It’s not wise. Not in my case. I don’t condemn anybody who owns one. You have your reasons. I have mine. This is another side of gun violence in America.

 

One comment

  • Hi Michael

    I completely agree with you on this one and greatly respect you for it. When I assess children for suicide risk and I talk to the parents, I ask about guns in the home, and sometimes people want to debate the Second Amendment with me. I’m not anti-gun but I am anti-killing. We know that if we can just delay that impulse, we can almost always prevent suicide with treatment, but the ease and speed of lethal force generated by a gun, which are design features, not flaws – if you are faced with immediate lethal force then you want a machine that also generates immediate lethal force – these features of speed and power make it so horribly easy to act on that suicidal impulse before it fades.

    The range where I shoot had a rash of suicides so they created a policy. If you are shooting alone then you have to bring your own gun. You don’t have to shoot it, can rent a gun and shoot that the whole time. You can come in with a friend and both rent guns and shoot them. What you cannot do, though, is come in alone without a gun and just rent one. That was how suicides were happening, people (probably men) coming in to rent guns and killing themselves on the range. The rationale is that if you have your own gun then you will kill yourself wherever it suits you, so if you bring one to the range then you probably do not intend suicide. The range is private property with no requirement to report data so I don’t have before-and-after numbers but I have to think that they saw at least a significant decrease, enough to sustain the policy.

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