The recent letter to the editor ("Gun-Storage Measure is Wishful Thinking") reflects common misunderstandings about the nature of suicide and the role guns play.
Oregon’s suicide rate is 20% higher than the national average, and the majority of our suicide deaths are with a firearm. When it comes to suicide, the means matter a lot. When Sri Lanka and Britain restricted access to leading methods people were using to take their own life, the rates of death by suicide fell dramatically. People don’t simply switch to another means to take their life. This is because attempting suicide is mostly an impulsive decision. For individuals experiencing a moment of crisis, having a firearm safely stored decreases the likelihood they take their own life.
Preventing or delaying access to a firearm saves lives; once that moment of crisis ends, 90% of people do not attempt suicide again. This is particularly the case for children who cannot purchase a gun on their own.
When it comes to school shootings, 60% of shooters get their firearms from their own home, the home of a close friend, or a relative — and we’ve experienced this in Oregon.
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It is also worth noting that the home invasion scenario described by the author is exceptionally rare compared to the rates of gun suicide in Oregon. And of course even when there is a home invasion, safe storage does not compromise safety. Biometric safes are easily accessible with a fingerprint swipe and take mere seconds to open.
Happy Valley (Oct. 23)