Brickbat: Guns Can Be Dangerous


Gun warning sign
Alessandro0770 /

The King County, Washington, Board of Health has ordered gun stores and shooting ranges to place signs up telling people that owning a firearm increases one's chances of death by suicide or domestic violence and if a child gets access to the gun. The signs will also include the number for an emotional crisis hotline.

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  1. Not owning a firearm increases your chances of being injured or maimed by failing at suicide by less lethal means.

    1. Plastic bag + rubber tube + nitrogen tank, friends. Be kind to your cleaning lady.

      1. Make sure that’s a full body bag. Don’t be pooping all over the rug for your cleaning lady to deal with.

  2. I didn’t know that owning a firearm would make you so depressed you’d want to kill yourself. Go figure.

    1. It doesn’t; guns, even when locked away in a safe, are known to take matters into their own grips and come looking for you…

      1. Right, they’re also clever enough to make it look like a suicide.

        1. And yet those fools in New Jersey have decided to mandate the development of even smarter guns.

        2. They could shoot you from Stuttgart and still achieve the proper effect.

    2. The data is quite clear on this. Having a quick, private, and certain method of killing yourself makes you far more likely to do so. The same thing occurred with coal gas (Carbon Monoxide) ovens in Britain. The suicide rate dropped dramatically when you had to do more than stick your head in the oven without lighting the gas first.

      Taking pills doesn’t work most of the time, and slitting your wrists is slow and very easy to mess up. Jumping off a tall building or in front of a subway is fits the bill, but requires going to that building, which slows you down and gives you time to think, and being in public makes it more likely to not go through with it due to social pressure.

      This is also why women attempt to commit suicide more often, but men succeed at a far greater rate. Men are far more likely to use firearms.

      1. Suicide is a weird thing.

      2. Speaking of the “quite clear data”:

        Firearms and Violence: A Critical Review (2004): Chapter: 7 Firearms and Suicide

        Some gun control policies may reduce the number of gun suicides, but they have not yet been shown to reduce the overall risk of suicide in any population.

        CDC: Percentages of suicides involving firearms and poisoning declined from 1999 through 2014, while suicides involving suffocation increased

        Note that this occurred while firearms ownership (and accessibility) increased by nearly 100 million.

        1. That’s due to the internet. These days, someone seriously contemplating suicide can easily research effective and peaceful methods and find a way to do it without the ugliness of a death by bullet.

      3. “Having a quick, private, and certain method of killing yourself makes you far more likely to do so.”

        Well, that leaves guns out.

        Letality of Suicide Methods.

        Note: the failure rates below include the person committing suicide changing their mind after starting the suicide attempt and aborting the attempt with methods where that is a possibility.

        Suicide by gun has a 17.5% failure rate. (82.5% fatality rate)

        The failure rate for suicide by drowning/submersion is 24.1%

        The failure rate for suffocation/hanging is 28.6%. My guess would be most of the failures are due to trying alternate methods of suffocation rather than failed hangings. Hanging someone including yourself is relatively easy.

        The failure rate for suicide by poison gas is 58.5%

        The failure rate for suicide by jumping is 65.5%. This is not something you can abort. Do that many people try suicide by jumping without understanding how high they need to jump from to insure a lethal impact? Or are they counting people who get talked off the ledge as aborted attempts?

        Drug overdose/ingested poison has a 98.5% failure rate. Probably from too many underestimating the required ethal dose.

        Suicide by cutting (usually the writs) has a failure rate of 98.8%. It probably hurts too much, causing most to give up before doing enough damage.

        All other suicide methods have a combined failure rate of 92%.

        1. Thanks for the hard data. Firearms are 10 times more likely to work than the average. While it’s not 100%, it’s a lot more certain than any other method.

          And the most common cause of failed hanging is breakage, either of the rope or whatever you tie it to. A well researched and thought out hanging is easy to do. People who are comitting suicide aren’t exactly known for coherent thought.

      4. Having a quick, private, and certain method of killing yourself makes you far more likely to do so.

        Why is this considered a bad thing?

  3. Also known to increase the risk of suicide:

    Owning a car and a relatively airtight garage.
    Owning some rope and a rickety stool
    Owning a gas stove
    Not knowing how to swim
    Owning a bottle of sleeping pills
    Having veins and a knife.
    Upsetting Hillary Clinton

    1. Oh, gas oven. Now I know where I went wrong.

    2. They probably are already working on getting all of these things banned. (We know the UK government is ahead of the curve?making chef knives illegal unless one is a licensed chef.)

      1. The Brits are a rowdy and stab happy people, and they certainly haven’t been importing people from blade-brandishing-averse cultures. They will continue to find a way no matter what. Long before they succeed in banning all knives motherfuckers will be stabbing each other with scissors, which work just as well. And at that point–I ain’t even playing–they will begin mandating that the scissors have rounded points only. If it saves just one life…

        This is of course a war you can never win, especially with the Brits. They might as well make everyone walk around in squishy rugby helmets to prevent head butts. Which I have no doubt they will try.

          1. Nice find, but you can’t fool me — you already knew about that before your 08:38 post, otherwise your surprise post at 08:39 would have taken longer to arrive.

            1. Nope. Lucky google search. But I did indeed need to suspect from the moment I wrote it that I was indeed going to find something like that, that the Brits’ only Constitution is Poe’s Law (or whatever law is applicable) and were not going to disappoint me.

        1. they will begin mandating that the scissors have rounded points only. If it saves just one life…

          …They might as well make everyone walk around in squishy rugby helmets to prevent head butts.

          Their government clearly views them all as retarded children, so it only makes sense to turn them all into “the kid in the helmet.”

    3. Modern houses don’t come with airtight garages anymore for that reason.

      1. You can accomplish the same thing with a little charcoal grill in a small room.

        1. Yes, there’s always another way.

          And those “other ways” are almost always more difficult. This isn’t a hard concept to grasp.

  4. Is there any evidence that folks visit the range during moments of acute emotional crisis? Can’t say I have the numbers, but I’m ‘a hazard a no.

    1. I can remember at least one suicide at a gun range. It’s not a huge leap to believe the vast majority of those visiting a gun store or shooting range are going to regard with derision these signs while they’re trying to enjoy their Second Amendment rights. It might actually remind them that compelled speech is a violation of the First Amendment, which is why we have the amendment that comes directly after.

    2. Actually there are a lot of suicides at gun ranges. I see suicide hotline signs at all the ones I visit. Some ranges will not rent guns to someone who is shooting alone.

      I don’t have actual numbers but it is high enough to spur voluntary action on the part of gun ranges.

      1. Huh that is interesting. I admit I had not thought about rentals. I bet when you take them away there is almost zero incidence, but I can see why they might be high risk. (Likely almost all men; women really do not like guns for suicide and certainly would not like doing it big and splashy–no pun intended–like that in a range.)

        One might think that unless you were so broke you did not have enough money in the bank to buy a gun you would not particularly prefer to rent one; what is the difference to you? But I bet that’s not what you do see; people are funny that way.

      2. Some ranges will not rent guns to someone who is shooting alone.

        Sometime even that’s not enough if you have two people who shoot each other simultaneously in some kind of weird suicide pact.

    3. Los Angeles County has reported suicides where non-gun owners have gone to shooting ranges to rent guns for the purpose of committing suicide. I have seen published tracking of the numbers in websites of LA papers. I also noted that suicides at gun ranges compared to total suicides in LA County over the same time period was a tiny fraction.

      The idea of a gun buff going to a shooting range to commit suicide is unthinkable to me. My kids have told me some of the happiest memories they of me have include shooting — visits to the family homeplace on the mountain, to the range at the gun club. Shooting myself would be taking a crap on those memories.
      If you buy the right to die argument of advocates of freedom of choice in suicide, guns are among the top ten most effective methods.
      Rank / Lethality / Method
      1. 99.0% Shotgun to head
      2. 97.0% Cyanide
      3. 97.0% Gunshot of head
      4. 96.4% Shotgun to chest
      5. 96.4% Explosives
      6. 96.2% Hit by train
      7. 93.4% Jump from height
      8. 89.5% Gunshot of chest
      9. 89.5% Hanging
      10. 78.5% Auto crash
      The Japanese have very inventive methods of non-gun suicide which often endanger bystanders. 11. Poison concoctions from household chemicals endanger EMT and ER personnel trying to save the self-victim.

      I think the money spent on these gun range and store signs is wasted when there are actual suicide prevention programs in need of resources. It is more anti-gun than anti-suicide.

      1. We could also have suicide assistance programs, so that those with a sincere and persistent desire to end their lives could do so peacefully without violence or danger to others.

  5. that fork could lead to overeating and slow death by cholesterol

    1. That’s why I like chopsticks.

      1. Be advised chopsticks may lead to Maoist thoughts, the wanton slaughter of children and famine.

      2. That’s why you never see vampires in Oriental restaurants: everywhere lethal weapons to form crosses or stake hearts.

    2. Yeah, just look what it did to Rosie O’Donnel.

  6. May I suggest the signs could have instead gone with a variation of a popular little rhyme among kids whenever they are served beans:

    Guns, guns
    The magical fruit
    The more you use
    The more you shoot

    It conveys more or less the same idea but doesn’t in a way that makes the nanny statists look slightly less priggishly idiotic.

    1. The more you shoot the better feel.
      So shoot your guns at every meal.

      1. Invite King county politicians to dinner?

      2. Better last line: So shoot your guns with fervent zeal.

      3. And I would also change the second line, so the whole thing would read:

        Guns, guns,
        A right absolute.
        The more you use,
        The more you shoot.
        The more you shoot, the better you feel.
        So shoot your guns with fervent zeal.

      4. I am loving the idea of being so excited every time about the fineness of the vittles that you start shooting into the ceiling Yosemite Sam style.

        1. ^^^^^^^

  7. I was not aware that King County Washington had such a large tax base it can retain a battery of constitutional lawyers.
    The ninth circuit is going to get rich from filing fees.

  8. The legislation will be enforced within 30 days in all cities and unincorporated areas in King County, according to the Board of Health.

    Enforced by people with guns.

    1. Enforced by people with guns.

      You’ve been warned that gun ownership could be hazardous to your health. It would be a shame if The King’s Men had to shoot you to prevent your suicide.

      1. It would be a shame if The King’s Men had to shoot you to prevent your suicide.

        That seems to be their standard operating procedure for stopping suicides.

  9. This is a first amendment violation. Didn’t the Supremes recently rule on a case of business compelled speech?

    1. That was fairly blatant – you had to basically advertise abortion at your anti-abortion clinic.

      Health warnings for various products have a long history, but progs object when the legislature wants abortionists to provide health warnings for their services.

      I suspect that there are plenty of people in King County who support this gun ordinance and also contribute to NARAL when it sends fundraising letters about the dangers of abortion-warning legislation.

      Because unlike abortions, guns kill people. /sarc

      1. I was just going to mention that. It is certainly compelled speech, but there’s a pretty robust tradition of allowing warning labels to be compelled. There is certainly a compelling interest for the state to prevent suicide so for a 1A challenge you’d probably need to convince a very friendly judge that the notice or what it implies was factually wrong or something. But notice that California gets to stick their stupid warning sign on pretty much everything in the entire state.

        The abortion signage was so egregious; the only thing I can think of to compare would be if Texas decided to make all pork carry the label, “Have you considered beef instead? It’s What’s For Dinner. Furthermore here is how you can obtain some…” Few people are willing to claim that the state has a compelling interest in mothers aborting their pregnancies, as opposed to merely having the choice to do so. (Few people for now.)

        The most hopeful sign for a successful 1A challenge I’m betting is the fact that the tobacco companies won their case against enhanced warning labels. But personally if I were a judge I might be more confident using a 2A argument! You cannot target any aspect of the gun industry with an onerous burden, I would say. If they follow all the generic business rules they need to be able to operate. You can target saloons and liquor stores for special oppression if you wish but not anything relating to guns.

  10. Because this has been oh so helpful with cigarettes. If anything, this will backfire.

    Guns are dangerous because they are supposed to be dangerous, genius!

  11. Preface the sign with the statement that it is mandated by the county.
    Surround it with citations of the refutations. And just maybe, quotation of the first and second amendments to the US Constitution.
    Along with a progress report of all the lawsuits against the county, and how much it is costing the taxpayers to keep that sign there.

  12. So that county is going to add signs to its government buildings that describes your chances of dying by government agents when the violate the Constitution?

    A phone number to the NRA would be helpful too.

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