Anti-Gun Groups Using Suicide to Trick Gun Shops into Doing their Dirty Work
By Evan F. Nappen, Attorney at Law
“Hell is paved with good intentions.” Boswell’s Life of Johnson, April 14, 1775
New Hampshire –-(Ammoland.com)- Recently New Hampshire gun dealers were sent a large manila envelope from the NH Firearms Safety Coalition.
The packet contained a number of items with a disturbing anti-gun-rights message, including a full color poster proclaiming:
“Suicides In NH Far Outnumber Homicides. Firearms Are The Leading Method Attempts With A Gun Are More Deadly Than Attempts With Other Methods.”
The poster may be viewed here: www.theconnectproject.org/uploads/docs/Posterfinal.pdf .
Misleading & a Recipe for a Lawsuit
Suicides outnumber homicides in NH because NH is a low-crime state. According to the National Institute of Mental Heath, firearms are not the “LEADING METHOD” amongst women; poisonings are the “LEADING METHOD” for that demographic. Firearms are a tool which can abused like anything else. Their effectiveness in suicide is irrelevant. The major causes of suicide, such as untreated depression, are the real problem.
The packet also included a “Tip Sheet” to New Hampshire firearm retailers that lists eight “Signs that a potential buyer could be suicidal,” eight “Options for responding to a potentially suicidal buyer,” and four “What else can I do” suggestions. This “Tip Sheet” creates a handy checklist for a personal injury attorney to use when suing a gun dealer who sells a gun to a suicide victim. One can well imagine the trial lawyer questioning the gun dealer “Tip” by “Tip” as to whether the gun dealer noticed any of the listed “Tips” or whether he had trained his employees to do so. The “Tip Sheet” may be viewed here: www.theconnectproject.org/uploads/docs/Tipsfordealers.pdf .
There is also a “Firearm Purchase Checklist” provided for customers to sign. This “Checklist” includes such affirmations as “I am not buying this firearm with the intent of harming another person or myself and pledge to use it only in a legal and responsible manner.” So much for a person buying a gun for self defense, since the intent of a self defense purchaser is very much to harm another person by the lawful use of deadly force, should it become necessary.
The “Firearm Purchase Checklist” also requires the salesperson to know the buyer’s true intent for the purchase of the gun by requiring the salesperson to sign off on the following: “Salesperson: I have demonstrated the safe operation and locking of this firearm and have removed the chamber plug. Nothing in the purchaser’s manner, actions, or speech indicate that he/she intends to use this firearm for illegal purposes or is otherwise unqualified to legally own or safely operate a firearm. I have double-checked all paperwork associated with this sale and certify that it is accurate and complete in all respects.” (Emphasis added) This way, the salesperson can be held accountable if there is a future problem. The “Firearm Purchase Checklist” may be viewed here: www.theconnectproject.org/uploads/docs/FirearmPurchaseChecklist.pdf .
There is even a video posted online (www.youtube.com/watch?v=97Fu2qmShZg) pushing this effort, and the speaker says, at 0:30,“The Firearms Safety Coalition people came in and asked me to put it up. I know they are not anti-firearm but they are anti-suicide.” (Emphasis added)
Who Is Behind This?
Unfortunately, if one follows the money trail it ends up that two of the nation’s top anti-gun-rights activist foundations are helping to fund the project. The cover letter dated August 16, 2011 that dealers received in their packets states at the bottom that “This project is funded by: Community Health and Healing Fund, NAMI NH; Bureau of Behavioral Health, NH DHHS; Harvard School of Public Health; Injury Prevention Center at Dartmouth; and Riley’s Gun Shop.” (Emphasis added) The letter may be viewed here: http://pgnh.org/nhfsc_letter_0 .
According to the Harvard School of Public Health, they run the “Means Matter” project which looks to reduce the “Means” of suicide (as opposed to the cause), and they state the following on their website (www.hsph.harvard.edu/means-matter/ ):
“The Harvard Injury Control Research Center is dedicated to reducing injury through training, research, intervention, evaluation, and dissemination… The Center is part of the Harvard School of Public Health. The Means Matter Campaign is funded by The Joyce Foundation and the David Bohnett Foundation.”
The funding path goes down from the Harvard School of Public Health to the Harvard Injury Control Research Center to the Bohnett Foundation and the Joyce Foundation. Both the Bohnett and Joyce foundations are infamous for being extremely anti-gun-rights.
The David Bohnett Foundation “supports and encourages groups that promote the goals of reduction and elimination of the manufacture and sale of handguns in the U.S.” (Emphasis added) The Bohnett Foundation has donated $198,000 to the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence (formerly Handgun Control, Inc.), $30,000 to the Campus Alliance to End Gun Violence, $235,000 to the Educational Fund to Stop Gun Violence, $105,000 to States United to Prevent Gun Violence, and $325,000 to the Violence Policy Center.
Since 2003, the Joyce Foundation has paid grants totaling over $12 million to gun control organizations. The largest recipient of grant monies is the notorious Violence Policy Center, which received $4,154,970 between 1996 and 2006. The VPC is a rabid anti-gun-rights group that wants total bans on handguns and semi-automatic firearms, and major controls placed on gun owners. The NRA has described the Joyce Foundation as an activist foundation whose “shadowy web of huge donations” leads “straight to puppet strings that control the agenda of gun ban groups.”
The NRA has warned about the anti-gun-rights movement using the suicide and guns issue to promote their anti-second amendment agenda.
The NRA states on their suicide and firearms fact sheet: “Gun owners should be aware of basic concepts and available data on suicide and firearms in order to be able to counter anti-gun propaganda that appears in the media and elsewhere. Suicide is a serious issue. It deserves serious, scholarly discussion, rather than use as a political football by unscrupulous propagandists grasping at any opportunity to make a case for their preordained agenda.”
The fact sheet, which includes a number of well-researched footnotes, may be viewed here: www.nraila.org/Issues/FactSheets/Read.aspx?id=117&issue=023 .
Treat the Cause Not the Means
The major causes (not means) of suicide, like untreated depression, are the real problem. Frankly, “Means” do NOT really matter. Making guns a scapegoat is wrong, and part of an anti-gun-rights ploy funded by major anti-gun-rights groups. Doing so puts dealers and ranges at greater risk for lawsuits and new anti-gun laws. If people want to kill themselves there are endless ways to do so—as shown by the high suicide rates in countries such as Japan, where guns are essentially unavailable.
Unfortunately, some well intentioned folks have been used to promote a campaign that threatens our gun rights. The anti-gun-rights crowd likes nothing better than when we destroy ourselves by unknowingly supporting their efforts.
Evan Nappen (www.efnappen.com) is a criminal defense attorney who has focused in firearms and weapons law for over 23 years. He is the author of New Hampshire Gun, Knife, and Weapon Law and the New Jersey Gun Law Guide. He is a director and the General Counsel of Pro-Gun New Hampshire, Inc. (http://www.pgnh.org/).