White House Released Plan to Combat Veteran/Military Suicide.

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The White House released a plan on Tuesday to combat veteran and military member suicide. The plan focuses on “gun safety” through the safe storage methods, among other things. It’s called the “Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide: Advancing a Comprehensive, Cross-Sector, Evidence-Informed Approach,” 

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The plan calls for federal agencies, including the Defense Department, Homeland Security, the Justice Department, Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs and the Department of Transportation’s emergency medical services office to create public awareness campaigns to encourage safer storage of guns and training for counselors, crisis responders and others.

The effort also includes the Justice Department finalizing a rule that was first proposed in 2016 and would require stores that sell firearms to also offer secure gun storage and safety devices, the White House said…

As part of the plan, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives will distribute a guide for firearms dealers that spells out both safety steps that are required under the law and additional steps the federal government recommends. The guide will also detail the Justice Department’s focus on prosecuting gun crimes and violations of federal firearms laws.

The administration said ATF would also “seek to revoke the licenses of dealers the first time that they violate federal law,” with limited exceptions for “extraordinary circumstances.” Those violations would include selling guns to someone who can’t legally own them, failing to run a background check, falsifying federal records or refusing to cooperate in required ATF inspections.

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Suicide has several factors: personal circumstances, loss of purpose, feeling of hopelessness, among other factors unique to each individual. It’s not always entirely mental – PTSD, for example, has a very real physical component for which medical science has yet to find a cure.

The White House released a plan that not only utilizes the idea of safe gun storage, but also safe storage of other “lethal means” such as medications. How they involved gun dealers in the suicide prevention process was to expand the Interagency Task Force (ITF) on suicide to include the DOJ (where the ATF comes in) and DHS. Including these agencies likely means the demand for compliance will increase exponentially.

Will that help or hurt in saving the lives of our service members and veterans? Some gun dealers already provide information on suicide prevention with a firearms purchase. But a simplistic, blanket approach may or may not be the best one. They are planning to prepare “maps” for people to show where they can take firearms. The NDAA this year includes a red flag component.

It remains to be seen how much pressure and demand for compliance from gun dealers will occur. Earlier in the year, remember, Biden planned to prosecute gun dealers who fail to follow the federal law. He plans a series of executive orders to address even more of those “rules.” Suicide is a complex issue being addressed by simplistic people.

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Featured screenshot via WUSF news

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