Molly Merrill: Soldiers’ gun safety

November 26, 2012 

Soldiers’ gun safety

Regarding the Nov. 15 article regarding increased Army suicide rates: While the Army has already instituted a commendable number of programs designed to lower the suicide rate among soldiers, tackling the issue of suicide from many angles, there are still over three active-duty soldiers who are killing themselves every week, more then are currently dying in combat. Two-thirds of Army suicides occur after combat. Because more soldiers have seen combat recently the rate will only increase.

One possible solution, restricting access to lethal means, remains untapped. Almost half of soldiers commit suicide with firearms they own as civilians. Another 20 percent kill themselves using military-issued firearms. Yet 2011 legislation made it illegal for commanders to talk to their at-risk soldiers about gun safety.

New federal legislation looks to change this by allowing commanders to ask those deemed at risk. This legislation should be supported along with campaigns to have family members voluntarily store guns of at-risk soldiers. As limiting access to lethal means has been proven to reduce suicides, should this not override the NRA lobby? Our soldiers give so much to our country – we should be repaying them and giving them our best help.

Molly Merrill

Carrboro

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