Ross Douthat–one of our best pundits–suggests in his blog that gun control could help reduce suicides of the elderly. From his post, “Gun Control and Suicide:”
Seen in this light, the most sensible gun regulations for a society that isn’t about to contemplate Japan-style confiscation might be those that modestly discourage people who only really even think about guns when they’re sliding into suicidal depths from having one ready to hand. That standard makes some programs that seem silly at first blush — like the gun buybacks that well-meaning American cities sometimes attempt — look a bit more plausible: There’s no good evidence that voluntary buyback programs take the weapons that are used in actual crimes off the street, but they do tend to collect old, little-used weapons from senior citizens, a population that’s particularly at risk for suicide.
I don’t disagree. But we are becoming a pro-suicide culture in the West, one in which many see suicide as appropriate for the seriously ill, disabled, and elderly–but not for the failed business owner or troubled teen. (Some, even want suicide available for troubled teens). Indeed, in Belgium and Switzerland, we have seen joint euthanasia and assisted suicide deaths of elderly couples celebrated by those societies’ euthanasia junkies.
Even in the US, assisted suicide advocates urge doctor-prescribed death as a substitute for gun suicides. They even claim that doing it under the “medical model” isn’t suicide but “aid in dying.” This sophistry has legal sanction: In Oregon, assisted suicides aren’t listed in the suicide statistics and in Washington, suicide-prescribing doctors must lie on death certificates by listing the underlying disease as the cause of death rather than the true cause.
But a gun suicide and a drug overdose suicide are the same act using different means. Worse, assisted suicide advocacy presumes that the proposed suicide is mandatory instead of still preventable.
I am for suicide prevention. In all cases. We can’t be pro suicide for some despairing people but not for others and expect to be effective. At best, that is self-cancelling.