If it was as easy to get a gun in Canada as it is in some other parts of the world, I would not be alive today.
It’s a bold statement to make, but to someone who has been struggling with suicidal tendencies over the past ten months, gun control and registration is more important than you know.
Last week, Bob Costas used his pulpit during Sunday Night Football to echo Jason Whitlock’s thoughts on gun control in light of the murder suicide by Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher:
What I believe is, if he didn’t possess/own a gun, he and Kasandra Perkins would both be alive today.
That is the message I wish Chiefs players, professional athletes and all of us would focus on Sunday and moving forward. Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.
Costas’ comments and Whitlock’s article have caused an uproar: many people fear that an articulate discussion about the role of guns in our society is a threat to their Second Amendment rights and that better control and registration would make things worse (take away their freedom, leave them vulnerable, etc.) instead of better.
All of those arguments focus on the use of firearms towards others. Very few of the arguments think about using guns on ourselves.
I’m not shy about the fact that I have attempted suicide before; mental illness gets its stigma when people are reticent to speak about their experiences. In the past, I have struggled, despite medication and professional help, with depression and hallucinations. I have made stupid decisions that could have led to self-harm because my brain couldn’t process stimulus like other brains do.
In the past ten months, as I have struggled once again with PTSD and depression, I have had many thoughts of suicide. I am getting good professional help to make sure I don’t make any stupid mistakes, and the professional help has helped me come up with processes and techniques that let me deconstruct my suicidal thoughts and turn them into rational ones.
Guns don’t kill people; people kill people. Herein lies the trouble: people with guns who can’t think rationally can make quick decisions to harm themselves a lot easier than if they had to put more effort into suicide.
When I have suicidal thoughts — they appear, often, in the middle of the night when my ability to be rational is already compromised by nostalgia and insomnia — I am now able to take a few seconds to compose myself, talk myself off the proverbial ledge. If there was a handgun under my pillow, the effort needed to harm myself would be so minimal that I may not have those few precious seconds where I am able to gain my composure.
I am getting better every day. I am healing from the trauma I experienced earlier this year, but the healing process has been very hard and very slow. In times of irrationality, suicide seems like a quick escape from pain and anguish — having access to an easy method of death, such as a firearm, could prevent people like me from having those short seconds during which I am able to regain some rationality. If I had easy access to a handgun or was able to procure one during my irrational moments, if I was able to keep a firearm close to me in the middle of the night, I am convinced that this year, during my weakest moments, I would have used it.
Thankfully, it is not easy to procure a handgun in Canada; its purchase requires rational thought, during which I don’t want to own one in the first place. Thankfully, I am getting better so I no longer worry so much about all of this.
But I worry about others who don’t speak up, who don’t share their stories of mental illness — people who don’t have access to the same help that I have.
I’m not arguing that the United States needs to repeal the Second Amendment, or ban firearms entirely. I am arguing that a better discussion about gun control and gun culture needs to happen, not just to protect people from harming others, but from harming themselves.