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.