There Is no Shame in Being Safe


This week, we dive right into a guest post by epidemiologist and attempt survivor Jennifer Garing on a bold project to bring a New Hampshire gun shop suicide prevention project to sprawling Texas:

We try not to talk about the means with which people attempt or complete suicide for fear of romanticizing it or creating a cookbook for completion. But sometimes the means are what really matter.

Guns. Firearms. They are the leading means of suicide in the United States. Vital statistics data show that twice as many people die from firearm suicides as from firearm homicides or accidents combined. Why? Because firearms are so prevalent? Because they are so easy to get? No. Because they are so lethal, and because once you pull the trigger, there’s no changing your mind. CDC studies show that 98 percent of individuals who attempt suicide using pharmaceuticals don’t complete. Yet 85 percent of individuals who attempt suicide with firearms do.

I was raised in a house with guns. I knew how to get to them. Knew how to load them and fire them. I even knew how to reload the shotgun casings. I was practically an expert. I even knew how my father’s gun safe worked. Yeah, my father is that kind of gun owner: a safety freak.

I was raised with a healthy fear of firearms. “Never point a gun at another person,” my father taught me. “Treat every gun like it’s a loaded gun, even if you know it’s not.”

Despite the many suicidal periods I went through, and even the attempt I made in that house, I never considered touching those guns. I’m not sure if it never occurred to me or if I just had too much respect for my father and his hobby to ruin it for him. I tend to lean toward the latter. I consciously chose to avoid my parents’ house during one episode because I knew I would end up killing myself by other means, and I didn’t want my father to be the one to find my body.

My father and I have always had a close relationship, and while I have used my disease at times to torment my mother, I have always shielded my father as best I could. It’s not that I intended to torment my mother. She just doesn’t have a mind for details when it comes to me. I drank my tea the same way for 30 years; my mother could never remember how I took my tea. So, during one particularly bad episode, I took it upon myself to prepare her for the eventual task of identifying my body should it ever become necessary. Where are my surgical scars? I would quiz her. Where are my scars from childhood? Where is my tattoo, and what does it look like?

It was a cruel exercise, CRUEL, in all capital letters. But one I felt, under the circumstances, was necessary. It would be her, not my father, who would have the grueling task of describing me, should it go that far.

It doesn’t surprise me that of my parents, my father has become the suicide prevention advocate. In his retirement occupation as a gun store clerk, he has championed the cause of means safety. You can even see him in a poster used in New Hampshire gun stores.  He’s the guy behind the counter.

He says it’s really a decision of personal conscience. No one wants to be the one who sells someone the weapon they use to end their life. My father has experienced this once. A young man shot himself with a gun he purchased from my father. The guilt is overwhelming. More often though, he has seen individuals who seem “off,” or he has been warned by family members that someone is coming, and he either refuses to sell someone a firearm or stalls the individual until someone can come and take him to a hospital.

I know I fit somewhere in that equation. My father’s knowledge of my powerlessness over suicidal thoughts and the endless pain and hopelessness is apparent in the way he describes my illness to others. He sees the true reality of depression.

I remember in graduate school feeling unsafe having both of my sharp knives in my house. I took them to a friend’s and asked her to hold onto them for the time being. I never really believed I would hurt myself with the knives. I was just unnerved by the unsafe feeling.

That’s what we’re asking individuals to do with guns. When they hit a rough patch or someone in their family does, remove guns from the home. Keep them out of reach so that an impulse decision doesn’t become a life-altering or life-ending one. It seems like common sense, but you would be surprised at the number of people who never think about it.

For all my bravado about my life with guns, I am not immune. I spent a long weekend last fall at a family friend’s cabin in Colorado. There was some concern about bears in the area, so there was a loaded .45 on the table next to my side of the bed.

I spent a great deal of time being uncomfortable about that loaded gun being in such close proximity to me. It didn’t feel safe. It made me feel unstable. But I was a guest, and I didn’t want to make a fuss. And I didn’t want anyone worrying about me or thinking of me in that way. Even after four years with no suicidal thoughts, the gun was still calling out to me. I had a difficult time sleeping.

My father long ago made a deal with my mother. He will never help me obtain a firearm. Despite my usual issues with my mother’s controlling actions, I have no problem with this one. I don’t ever want to own a firearm.

This is not to say that I don’t believe people with mental illnesses should be allowed to own firearms. I believe very strongly that we have the same rights as every other American. I also feel very strongly that no one should be denied a constitutional right based solely on a medical diagnosis. But I think we have an extra responsibility to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are not safe to be around firearms, even if that includes ourselves.

I’ve been infuriated by some of the talk following the Newtown tragedy that has suggested that the “mentally ill” be barred from gun ownership altogether. It shows a level of ignorance and misunderstanding that, while completely believable, is shocking and a slap in the face.

Bringing the New Hampshire Gun Shop Coalition program to Texas, where I work, has been a journey. The people I have met along the way define my story.

There are the Harvard and Dartmouth scholars from New Hampshire who are epidemiologists like myself and worked with Ralph Demiccio, who owns my father’s gun store, to bring the program to New Hampshire in 2009.

There’s the suicide prevention advocate in Tennessee, Scott Ridgway, who has the monumental task of working with 1,700 gun dealers across that state. But he’s meeting with them one at a time _ 200 so far.

There are the Austin reporter and cameraman, who both had their own connections to suicide, who filmed an interview with me. I found myself saying out loud, on television, that I was a suicide attempt survivor and lived with severe mental illness, all the while clinging to the poster of my father.

There was the televised circus, the town hall meeting, “Guns in America,” sponsored by a Texas news station. Purported to be an open discussion on guns with experts from both sides of the debate, it quickly dissolved into fanatics from either side shouting ridiculous hypotheticals at each other.  An end to rational communication, my husband called it.

There is the first gun shop owner I spoke to about the program here in Texas who caught me completely off guard by Googling gun stores in New Hampshire, randomly calling them and asking their opinion of the program. They all gave very positive reviews and were incredibly nice to him on the phone. He is “all in,” by the way, and wants to be part of our Texas coalition.

There’s the Texas NRA lobbyist who jumped on board with two feet. He was so much more moderate than I would have ever expected. I think the right wingers at the town hall meeting would have been deeply disappointed by him. But he proved to be a fountain of contacts, ideas, information and enthusiasm.

And then there’s Merily, my partner in crime, who lost her son to suicide and has been fighting the good fight ever since. She had me pegged as a survivor almost as soon as we met, but just the other kind of survivor. She sat me down after our television interview and talked to me until I was finished freaking out about what I had just done.

You might wonder why it’s so important to include gun stores in suicide prevention efforts. Dartmouth researchers abstracted medical examiner data and found that one in every 10 firearm suicides was committed with a newly purchased weapon. Receipts were often found at the scene. Some suicides occur right on the firing range with a rented gun. And here outside Austin, not even a month had gone by when someone killed themself in the parking lot of the newly opened Cabelas Sporting Goods store just south of the city.

I’m working with other suicide prevention advocates in Texas who want to collaborate with gun shops and shooting ranges to train their employees to spot individuals who are buying or renting firearms for the sole purpose of killing themselves. And we want to provide gun shops and shooting ranges with educational materials so their customers can spot the signs that a family member or friend is in trouble and may need to be separated from access to firearms.

This has nothing to do with gun control or background checks or no-fly lists or any invasion of privacy. It’s all about education, awareness and safety. It’s something everyone can get behind, regardless of how you feel about guns.

There is no shame in being safe. There is no shame in asking for help. There is no shame in needing help. We’re all there from time to time. The shame lies in the lives that could have been saved.


Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.


      • There is something about Americans that “shootings” happen here as they do (and have found their way into lyrics, years ago in 1999!!).

        “school kids keep trying to teach us, what guns are all about”

        And in this song she tells WHY – at least one “reason” WHY – people are driven to the extreme of murder and homicide (including self-homicide). Striking out, deadly.

        “And every year, now like Christmas, some boy gets the milk fed suburban blues, reaches for the available arsenal and saunters off to make the news”

        It takes MENTAL work to understand what exactly is being communicated in that line of words.

        Guns get more attention than they deserve. The attention needs to shift onto the DRIVING FORCE BEHIND the hand that picks up that gun, or knife, or bomb or WHATEVER.

        The problem isn’t the tools of killings. The problem is what is “killing you” and what is causing, DRIVING, the state of intolerability.

        Only America, supposedly, has this problem with guns: “As Mayor Michael Bloomberg stressed on Monday while ratcheting up his national antigun campaign, “We are the only industrialized country that has this problem. In the whole world, the only one.””

        American culture has cultivated some of the WORST conditions. SO much that is NOT okay is “accepted” and “normalized”. It is sickening and intolerable. No wonder people kill themselves and / or others.

        Or like Jim Gottstein said here: “to me it just speaks volumes that there’s not an outcry about that, that this segment of the population, their value is so little that this is an acceptable outcome. I think that’s an outrage.”

  1. I beg to differ that there is any relationship whatsoever between gun control and suicide rate. This is the data: . The only thing that the countries that rank higher in that list have in common is precisely strict gun control laws. China is ranked 7. Its suicide rate is almost twice that of the US even though China’s guns per capita is 0.05 (vs close to 1 for the US). France’s suicide rate is 22% higher than the US’ even though France’s ownership rate is one third that of the US: .

    If people want to advocate for gun control, I think that it is a legitimate position. But to do it in the context of discussing ways to reduce suicides is intellectually dishonest.

  2. I’m locked inside, so I can’t step off of a sidewalk into traffic, or take my car keys away because I might drive into a tree at 60 MPH… I might take a skydiving course and not pull my chute cord on the way down…I might eat expired food on purpose… where does the protection start and stop?

  3. “while I have used my disease at times ”

    Blood tests please. Cat Scans please, MRI please.

    Perpetuating the disinformation of a “Diseased” mind is counterproductive.

    “I spent a great deal of time being uncomfortable about that loaded gun”

    The term is Hoplophobia: an unreasoning fear of an inanimate object.

    You want to reduce suicides by gun?

    Fine. Education works.

    Object lesson number 1.

    Fill an empty gallon milk jug with water. At a shooting range or other area with a SAFE (as in no place beyond the target for the projectile to do any damage) shoot the milk jug with a .22. Yes, just a tiny, little .22.

    Explain to the gun safety student that the human body is 98% water, and the explosion/hydrostatic shock wave that .22 just made is what it will do to a human being’s insides. It’s very graphic.

    Let them actually See what it does, and there goes a great deal of people thinking about using one on themselves. Or show them pics from our current wars of enemy combatants who’ve been head shot.

    “I think the right wingers at the town hall meeting would have been deeply disappointed by him.”

    There’s a Lot of Right Wingers and NRA members who are becoming ‘Disappointed’ with NRA, and the meat of their dissatisfaction is with NRA’s willingness to strike deals with the Anti-2nd Amendment crowd.

    For years we’ve heard from NRA about how we don’t need any more gun laws, we just need to enforce the ones we already have.

    Last I looked there were over 22 Thousand of the counterproductive pieces of Un Constitutional ‘Infringings’ already on the books, and the dissatisfaction arises from Enforcing crap which is already illegal.

    If you don’t want to own a gun, Fine, don’t buy one.

    IF I don’t want to BE Owned by Obama’s stinking PPACA, Fine, Literally. IF I Don’t buy his crap, I get Fined, and His HealthCare Dodge, . . . INCLUDING MORE of this filth called MENTAL HEALTH, is FAR more lethal to you, me, and everyone we know, than guns ever were or ever will be.

    And I Do wish that this Dear Abbey business of people who are uneasy with guns, writing Advice to the Uneasy columns here at MIA, would cease.

  4. I find this blog a hard read. Everything about ‘suicide prevention’ work screams responsibility for, rather than partnering with. Everything about this blog screams responsibility for, rather than partnering with. Everything that is most wrong with our system screams responsibility for, rather than partnering with.

    I’m not going to get into the assumed disease issue. While I find any writing that assumes disease without proof for one’s self and then applies that assumption to everyone around them, this post is LARGELY someone’s personal story and Jennifer has the right to define her experiences in a way that makes sense for her.

    But I find this ‘Mental-Health-First-Aid-esque’-diagnosis-thy-neighbor and keep them ‘safe’ business to be dangerous. This attitude – that first, we must prevent – is what leads people to be hospitalized against their will without question. (Jennifer, you actually allude to that as a goal right in the middle of your post!) It ignores that multiple people have made their most serious suicide attempts directly AFTER being ‘kept safe’ by the system. It ignores that multiple people have killed themselves only after being hurt and disempowered by those that set out to ‘help’ them.

    I once heard a supposed ‘expert’ on dangerous behavior in the so-called ‘mentally ill,’ state that he (and others who ‘do this for a living’) can accurately assess potential dangerous with a 50% accuracy rate. He said this as if it were impressive, rather than a 50/50 shot that could be matched by flipping a coin.

    Jennifer, what accuracy rate do you suppose your training program has? And how many people will be hurt, humiliated, coerced and treated with force in the meantime?


      • Duane, Actually, I didn’t notice it at first either.. And honestly, I was a little uneasy with the anonymous ‘I’ that I felt like I was reading. But then I went back to the top to the bold writing, and it says:

        “This week, we dive right into a guest post by epidemiologist and attempt survivor Jennifer Garing on a bold project to bring a New Hampshire gun shop suicide prevention project to sprawling Texas:”

        • Ms Davidow;

          “an epidemiologist” who was raised with a healthy “fear” of guns/inanimate objects.

          An epidemiologist references life in terms of disease states.

          Guns are not a disease.

          The informed perspective is not a healthy fear, but a healthy respect.

          Fear of guns reveals ignorance of guns whereas respect posits actual knowledge of guns.

          We should be more fearful of being injured or killed by drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs – and that most definitely includes psychiatric drugs.

          • Ms Davidow;

            I addressed my comment to you on the basis of your pointing out that the author of this post is an epidemiologist.

            Human beings becoming put out, upset, frightened or incensed no matter the severity are not infected with any diseases which can be cured or mitigated through the interference of Humanist Philosophy.

            Ms Care;

            “Respect has nothing to do with it, and take suicide out of the equation – why do people “need” to own guns? Why should owning a gun be a “right”?”

            I suggest you address that question to the survivors of Auschwitz, Buchenwald, and Treblinka, which were the previous work of Psychiatry.

            “Respect has nothing to do with it?”

            Do you respect an electric carving knife because you know well enough what it will do to not try it out on your own arm or someone else’s arm?

            “Why should owning a gun be a right?”

            Why should being allowed to lock the doors of your home with deadbolts be a right? The Authorities might need to get into your home some night and not be able to wake you.

            Why should the Rest of the Bill of Rights be a right? Are there any Other Unalienable rights you would like to question?

            They are all inseparable, and completely worthless without each other.

            Virtually the first question despotic, mass murdering Dictators pose to their subjugated peoples is “What do you need guns for?”
            “We are in control now, and we are all the protection from criminals you’ll ever need.”

            What was the final insult which fired the ‘Shot Heard ‘Round the World’ in the American Revolution?

            Can you tell me?

            Our entire Bill of Rights is no longer even on Life Support. We can all of us cite endless incursions on it emanating almost daily from our current administration.

            Without the Bill of Rights being upheld, In Toto, as it is written, we are sliding into a Collectivist Hell where Everyone will be subject to involuntary incarceration sans warrant, sans indictment, sans habeus corpus whether they’ve been officially run over by the Thought Gestapo or not.

    • “I find this blog a hard read.” Me too! It reminds me of the client my therapist once told me about, who was afraid that if he had a knife, he wouldn’t be able to control himself and would hurt her. What did she do? Remove anything from her office that only remotely resembled a knife? Got him committed? No. The next session she put a knife on the table between him and her, easy to grab for him and actually hurt her, who due to a disability couldn’t even jump up and run away. He didn’t. She neither got me committed although she knew I was pretty much “suicidal” — make that convinced I would have to rid myself of my body in order to save myself, if that makes sense. Of course she was taking a risk, in both instances. But life is risky by nature, isn’t it? And nobody has yet learned to take responsibility for the risks they take, the choices they make, their life, themselves, by having others take responsibility for them. Fear doesn’t make the world a safer place. Trust does.

    • As usual, Sera wrote exactly what I wanted to say, only clearer and more to the point. I can only echo all she wrote and reiterate how disturbing I found this post. I’m sure the author was well-intentioned, but what she does scares the hell out of me. I have no interest in owning a gun, but neither do I want strangers thinking they can tell if I’m dangerous and have me locked up.

    • This band-aide approach I also find cursory. Fussing about the “crazy” people while the “sane” people, the “authorities” in control with their weaponry (nuclear weapons) can destroy all life on the planet 20 times to make sure the enemy is dead (that isn’t suicide?)…

  5. Great topic, with the very real issues of shame & safety, right there in the title. Perhaps, the greatest issues in human mental health, and just how we generate these “feelings?”

    Its easy to “rationalize” these terms, shame & safety, yet how aware are we all, of just how these sensations-feelings are generated within us? Please consider a new term for our “subconscious” perception of safety;

    A Subconscious System for Detecting Threats and Safety. -STEPHEN W. PORGES, University of Illinois at Chicago.

    What determines how two human beings will act toward each other
    when they meet? Is this initial response a product of learning from culture, family experiences, and other socialization processes? Or is the response the expression of a neurobiological process that is programmed into the very DNA of our species? If
    the response has a neurobiological basis, are there specific
    features of the other person’s behavior that trigger either
    feelings of safety, love, and comfort or feelings of danger?
    Why do some children cuddle and warmly conform to embraces, yet others stiffen and pull back from the same overture? Why do some children smile and actively engage a new person, while others avert their gaze and withdraw?

    Does knowledge of human biology help us to understand the triggers and mechanisms of these behaviors during normal development? If we learn how behavioral features trigger neural circuits that facilitate social behavior, will we be better able to help children with severe developmental disabilities, such as autism, improve their social behavior?

    By processing information from the environment through the senses, the nervous system continually evaluates risk. I have coined the term “neuroception” to describe how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life threatening. Because of our heritage as a species, neuroception takes place in primitive parts of the brain, without our conscious awareness. The detection of a person as safe or dangerous triggers neurobiologically determined prosocial or defensive behaviors. Even though we may not be aware of danger on a cognitive level, on a neurophysiological level, our body has already started a sequence of neural processes that would facilitate adaptive defense behaviors such as fight, flight, or freeze.

    •Neuroception describes how neural circuits distinguish whether situations or people are safe, dangerous, or life threatening.

    •Neuroception explains why a baby coos at a caregiver but cries at a stranger, or why a toddler enjoys a parent’s embrace but views a hug from a stranger as an assault.

    •The Polyvagal Theory describes three developmental stages of a mammal’s autonomic nervous system: Immobilization, mobilization, and social communication or social engagement.

    •Faulty neuroception might lie at the root of several psychiatric disorders, including autism, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, depression, and Reactive Attachment Disorder.”

    People in this community have been bewildered by my comments, on how we scan blog posts and comments here, seeking resources for our established worldview? My comments come from the “paradigm shifting” discovery of professor Porges “The Polyvagal Theory,” which in my opinion is as revelatory as any of the great thinkers, like Galileo, Newton or Einstein.

    IMO the polyvagal perspective will revolutionize mental health in the coming decades, although many will to give up their “fundamentalist” beliefs in a supernatural father figure, as creator of ALL, and realize that there is no dichotomy in a religious and science view of cosmic evolution, once we get beyond the literal meaning of words, and begin to think, again, in metaphor & meaning.

    It is Stephen Porges groundbreaking discovery and Peter Levine’s methods of trauma resolution, through developing “sensate” awareness of my hidden internal functioning, which has allowed me to master psychosis, and feel safe from the shaming projections of others, by learning just how I oriente “subconsciously,” in a defensive world.

    But as Peter Levine points out, the great confusion and “paternal” needs of projection, will continue, as long as we remain in denial, about “what” we really are;

    “My approach to healing trauma rests broadly on the premise that people are primarily instinctual in nature – that we are, at our very core, human animals. It is this relationship to our animal nature that both makes us susceptible to trauma and, at the same time, promotes a robust capacity to rebound in the aftermath of threat, safely returning to equilibrium. More generally,
    I believe that to truly understand our body/mind, therapists must first learn about the animal body/mind because of the manner in which our nervous systems have evolved in an ever changing and challenging environment. (p, 225)

    However, there is an almost violent schism lurking in our cultural zeitgeist. Lets face it; the fight against evolution by the proponents of “creationism” and “intelligent design” is not really about professed gaps in the fossil records; its about whether or not we are basically animals. (p, 225)

    In fact, the word instinct is rarely found in modern psychological literature. Rather it is purged and replaced with terms such as drives, motivations and needs. While instincts are still routinely drawn upon to explain animal behaviors, we have somehow lost sight of how many human behavior patterns (though modifiable) are primal, automatic, universal and predictable. (p, 231)” _Peter Levine. Excerpts from: “In an Unspoken Voice.”

    Best wishes,

    David Bates.

  6. I share the reservations Sera articulates regarding this article. What this reads like is a kind of mental health McCarthyism. I am sure the author means well, but nonetheless this article demonstrates that the author is missing critical pieces of information needed to truly prevent suicide.

    The following is taken from the product monograph listed on the Health Canada database regarding the anti-depressant [sic] Paxil:

    “Adult and Pediatrics: Additional data

    There are clinical trial and post-marketing reports with SSRIs and other newer anti-depressants, in both pediatrics and adults, of severe agitation-type adverse events coupled with self-harm and harm to others. The agitation-type events include: akathisia, agitation, disinhibition, emotional lability, hostility, aggression, depersonalization. In some cases the events occurred within weeks of starting treatments.”

    Turning in people who seem “off” can lead to their death via suicide because the drugs they use cause to treat “depression” cause suicide.

    Additionally, anti-depressants also cause something called serotonin toxicity which can kill a person outright.

    And many other psychiatric drugs which are used on people labeled “mentally ill” can promote suicide, via akathisia, by inducing psychosis, and various other problems. A number of drugs can kill people via seizures, if not tapered off of properly. All psychiatric drugs can kill people via allergic reactions. Some drugs can also kill people by inducing something called neuroleptic malignant syndrome. Anti-psychotics [sic] can kill people slowly by inducing diabetes or pancreatitis. Lithium can kill people because it’s so-called therapeutic range is not very far removed from the range into which it becomes toxic. It can kill someone by causing kidney failure or via heart failure. Electroshock, which is routinely used in many states and works by causing brain damage, can kill a person outright. And almost all if not all psychiatric drugs can induce withdrawal states which look like but are not “mental illness”, which could lead a person to suicide. Etc…

    Also, “mental illness” has no defined pathology attached to it. What that means is anyone can be detained and given the drugs which cause suicide or submitted to ECT.

    Lastly, a pertinent case of anti-depressants [sic] causing suicide is that of Traci Johnson. She was a healthy volunteer who killed herself during the drug trial for Cymbalta, which speaks to the fact that the drugs themselves and not the original problem (presuming there is one) cause suicide.

  7. Mental health is a political issue, our political systems allow biological psychiatry to operate and profit from it, along with hand delivering people to psychiatry because of social injustice and direct oppression of whole sections of society. I cannot be silent on these issues anymore than I could be silent on trauma and it’s causations of distress which land people in the psychiatric or criminal justice system. I know this can irritate some members, but I’m just one person, my words on these issues can do bugger all except bear testimony.

    Sera you make points I’m nodding in agreement with because in the UK it’s been found that the suicide rate AFTER discharge isn’t looking too good..and I never fail to be amazed at how bad MH professionals are [generally speaking] when it comes to assessing ‘risk to self’.

    Dbunker, I can’t accept your point, referring to concentration camps in relation to guns laws, and you say they were the work of psychiatry – they were hardly alone, psychiatry was not the sole architect of the Holocaust. So owning a gun is a right along with all other rights, and without that it somehow invalidates all other rights? That doesn’t make sense to me.

    I support your take Darby, “I have no interest in owning a gun, but neither do I want strangers thinking they can tell if I’m dangerous and have me locked up”.

  8. Ms Care;

    “Psychiatry was not the sole architect”

    WWII killed between 60 to 69 Million people. Any evil that great will always accumulate murderous, unprincipled subsets of humanity along with the initiators.

    I don’t wish to condescend here, but you do know that the Germans inspired by the Americans, particularly those in California (the same progressive, Forward thinking crowd that herded American Citizens of Japanese descent into camps behind barbed wire).

    And their German admirers found themselves grateful that They and Their mass murdering excesses weren’t subject to the restraints which their Ideological Cousins in California found themselves up against, under the Bill of Rights.

    “So owning a gun is a right along with all other rights, and without that it somehow invalidates all other rights? ”

    No, the lack of a 2nd Amendment would not actually invalidate them except in the sense that it would leave all the other Amendments worth Exactly the paper they’re written on: subject to endless redefinitive chisling by Govt. (exactly where we are now)

    You haven’t answered my question. What was the final outrage which fired the Shot Heard ‘Round the World?

    It’s a fair question, and it’s put fairly. I’m not trying to butt heads with you but to acquaint you with the other side of this issue.

  9. Here’s a hypothetical, using this kind of logic. A young woman who is being abused by her husband wants to purchase a gun to give her some feeling of safety in her own home. For the time being, I’ll ignore the statistical fact that that gun could pose a serious threat to that young woman’s life if it ends up in her husband’s hands, as she has the legal right to decide whether she believes it will make her situation better or worse. Her husband decides that he doesn’t want her owning a gun, and calls the gun shop as a “concerned family member,” warning the owner that his “mentally ill” wife will soon arrive to try to buy a gun that she will use to end her life, and asking the store owner to stop her from buying one. The young woman, who is visibly shaken and appears frantic, is “stalled” while the store owner calls the police to hospitalize this young woman. While this may seem like a rare and nearly impossible hypothetical, I know three people who have been reported to the authorities for some version of “acting crazy” by their abusers- two out of those three people were involuntarily hospitalized. I am very supportive of reasonable gun control policies, and see no reason why someone who has been convicted of a violent crime should have access to guns. However, turning gun shop owners into armchair psychiatrists and instructing them to conduct instantaneous risk assessments of their customers- a task that even those with years of training consistently prove they are unable to do- just seems to be casting an even wider net for who will be forcibly brought into and, likely, traumatized by our very broken mental health system.