Firearms and Adolescent Suicide

adolescent suicides and gunsAndrew J. McClurg, The Public Health Case for the Safe Storage of Firearms: Adolescent Suicides Add One More ‘Smoking Gun’, 51 Hastings Law Journal 953-1001 (2000).

This article argues for passage of safe gun storage laws as a means of reducing adolescent suicides.

Millions of loaded and unlocked firearms sit in homes throughout America, easily accessible to unauthorized, dangerous users. Public health research, including ten studies discussed in this Article, shows that astonishingly high percentages of gun owners negligently store the most dangerous consumer product legally obtainable. Unsecured guns invite firearms tragedies of all types.

The author has previously argued for safe gun storage laws as a means for reducing both accidental and intentional third-party shootings.

The current article asserts that legislatively mandated safe firearms storage would also help stem the tide of adolescent suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youths between the ages of fifteen and nineteen, and the third leading cause of death for youths aged fifteen to twenty-four. While the overall suicide rate in the United States has remained relatively stable since 1950, the rate of suicide for adolescents has more than tripled. Firearms account for 60 percent of all suicides in this country, including youth suicides, even though they are used in only a small percentage of suicide attempts.

1 comment to Firearms and Adolescent Suicide

  • Scott Hedrick

    I recently came across the following Glock ad:

    This sort of safe should be no problem for a gun owner. It allows quick access but also allows limited access. It even allows the gun to remain loaded, saving time when it’s really needed. Mandating the use of proper locking mechanisms would be far better than trying to limit legal purchases. *Criminals ignore the law, by definition*, so making legal ownership harder does not improve safety. Responsible ownership includes safety, which includes limiting unauthorized access. The safe of the type shown in this video is nearly as accessible as a nightstand drawer but far more secure. Don’t limit gun or magazine types- require the use of locks or safes (failure to properly secure a firearm should be a felony, which means that the owner could be charged under a felony murder law if a kid gets access to an unsecured gun not in actual, authorized use [such as during an active hunt or sporting event, maybe put down for a moment so the user can wipe the sweat off his face and the kid snatches it] and shoots himself).

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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