NewsWise recently reported on a study by Rutgers that was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine:
People who purchase a firearm during the pandemic are more likely to be suicidal than other firearm owners, according to a Rutgers study.
The study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that about 70 percent of those who bought a firearm during the COVID-19 pandemic reported having suicidal thoughts throughout their lives, compared to 37 percent of the rest of the community of gun owners.
It would appear these findings are largely supported by a guy by the name of Michael Anestis, executive direction of the New Jersey Gun Violence Research Center, associate professor at Rutgers, and author or the book Guns and Suicide. Yes, Anestis is firmly in the “Blame the Guns” camp. He shared his thoughts on gun sales during COVID-19:
“People who were motivated to purchase firearms during COVID-19 might have been driven by anxiety that leaves them vulnerable to suicidal ideation. While this does not guarantee an increase in suicide rates, it represents an unusually large surge in risk made more troubling by the fact that firearms purchased during COVID-19 may remain in homes beyond the pandemic.”
Anestis went on to say the following about what he feels the suicide risks are for people buying guns during the pandemic:
“The increase in firearm purchases is concerning given that suicide is three times more likely in homes with firearms, and there is a hundred-fold increase in an individual’s suicide risk immediately following the purchase of a handgun. And unsafe firearm storage increases that risk.”
It’s accurate to say suicides attempted with a firearm have a higher completion rate than many other forms of suicide attempts but the firearms themselves do not cause suicidal ideation. Are people more likely to feel depressed when forced to stay “safe at home” and banned from eating out, going to movies, or attending social gatherings? Well, yes, and here’s where I’m looking at a lot of governors out there. Power trip much? But your gun doesn’t make you suicidal.
Suicide is a topic that needs to be discussed more openly in the gun world (see Walk The Talk America). The stigma has to be removed and solutions must be offered to the legitimate fears people have of losing their guns if they report their depression to doctors. Bring red flag laws into that situation and things get even worse. But the idea that people buying a gun during the pandemic must be suicidal is, in my opinion, flat ludicrous.