Overwhelming Support for Mass. Instructors Including Suicide Awareness Info During Classes

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A yellow ribbon which represents suicide prevention

The other day I pushed out an article over at Bearing Arms called “It’s a Hard Knock Fudd for Us: Tales of a Bay State ‘Instructor’.” It’s about a situation involving an instructor and his immature Fuddish rant and my resultant correspondence with him. Through an initiative called the Massachusetts Governor’s Challenge to Prevent Suicide Among Service Members, Veterans, and their Families, the Massachusetts State police announced they were implementing part of the directive. I wrote about the exchange with the instructor, and the unofficial results on the topic, via social media commentary, are in.

The directive included virtual training via Zoom of Mass. firearm instructors and having them including suicide awareness as part of the requisite firearm training in the Bay State. When the State Police Representative shared their message, I found myself being openly carbon copied in a diatribe from a – I’d say colleague, but that’d be an insult to me – person I have business dealings with.

I widely spread my post in both Massachusetts and New Jersey firearm related groups online and I got an overwhelming amount of positive responses. There were a few of those beat their chest, “shall not be infringed” types, who added nothing to the conversation. But, overall and generally, the people most affected by or experienced in this dynamic found little issue with the spreading of information on suicide awareness.

Approximately 2/3rds of deaths via firearms are from people dying by suicide. If the anti-civil liberty types are going to be honest about this, the question they should be asking is, “Why do so many people not want to live?” rather than focus on those numbers holistically and using them to support further restrictions. Instead, the anti-gun think tanks don’t go to the root cause, blame the hardware, and in turn push for policy they’re being paid by anti-gun benefactors to support.

The individual that sent in negative commentary back to the representative at the State Police mentioned liability as being an issue. He also said it makes firearm instructors quasi mental health professionals. Then the rest of his missive was about proposed gun control currently being discussed in the legislature in Massachusetts. I can’t share what he wrote, but I was embarrassed to have been openly carbon copied in his correspondence to other people concerning this matter.

Some of the comments that came in on social media that I thought hit the nail on the head include:

  • I have been including a handout about suicide prevention from the time I started teaching LTC classes. I’m a veteran and now a retired Firefighter and EMT. Veterans have a high suicide rate as well as Fire, EMS, and Law Enforcement. So it was a natural thing for me to do. John Petrolino if the gentlemen you wrote the article about is worried about some committing suicide is he also worried about a former student committing murder or armed rubbery? I doubt it because suicide education has a sigma with it.
  • Considering many people that are in law enforcement or military end up being civilian gun owners and both those jobs have statistically higher suicide rates it’s not a bad idea to hand out suicide prevention info.
  • I’m not going to throw at anyone handing out suicide prevention info for any reason.
  • I don’t like it being forced but it’s probably not a bad idea ,one range in particular has had multiple suicides.
  • I’m fine with a handout.
  • I mean, if it saves even just one life, what’s the problem?
  • I don’t see how anyone would have an issue with it.
  • It’s just an informational handout so I don’t see the big deal.
  • Yeah, a handout on suicide awareness certainly doesn’t sound negative and nothing like making firearms instructors into quasi mental health professionals. Ignoring the problem (or worse, lashing out about it) won’t help anyone.
  • Not a big deal. Just toss it if it doesn’t apply. If it does apply, hopefully you get the help you need.
  • The store I’ve purchased multiple firearms from does give a small pamphlet with every sale. But regardless if you are going for a license, have it or have it and never plan on buying a firearm, i personally dont think its a big deal.
  • Having lost more than my fair share of friends to suicide I don’t have a problem with it. One said person was a goal member and pro 2a attorney
  • I wouldn’t mind… my generation was decimated by suicide and opioid deaths….That being said, most MA gun owners are FUDDS and vote in favor of incrementally losing their own rights…
  • Suicide is never the answer. You gotta outlive your enemies. I have no problem with instructors doing suicide prevention awareness.
  • Working in psychiatry, I can never think giving out information on suicide prevention is a bad thing
  • Why not? People use guns to kill themselves and especially men… why would we willingly be upset about giving someone a resource

Then there were a few negative/partially negative interactions:

  • Not doing it
  • When you buy a car are you forced to take handouts on dwi? [Note: You are forced to take driver’s ed which covers this]
  • I don’t think government should require it, but I have no issues with instructors choosing to pass it out. I don’t think it’ll actually help or prevent anything, but instructor is passing on ability and knowledge of a firearm which can complete suicide quick and easily, if this makes them feel better about it than I see no issues
  • I think anyone that is going to wait to get a class. Wait to get an appointment to submit paperwork and then wait the 8-2 ten weeks To get the permit. That is someone so committed to doing what they’re going to do Anyways! that a pamphlet is waste of time.
  • Honestly, I don’t think the guy who wrote this understands what a fudd is. Someone who pushes back against more government mandates isn’t a fudd. A fudd is a fellow firearms owner who tells people no one needs an AR-15, 30 round magazines, and/or supports unconstitutional laws restricting the 2A. I also lump folks who are against allowing folks to train while moving and shooting at the range into the fudd category.

While I’m not ready to pack up, head over to Asbury Park, and tell Rasmussen Reports I’ve conducted the study of the century, that does not mean this data is bad. The overall response to including potentially life-saving information during instruction on firearms is overwhelmingly positive from anecdotal evidence.

Whether the Second Amendment community is voluntarily or being forced to address this topic, it’s moot. What can’t be overstated is that lashing out about such requirements to the “messenger” is in bad taste, immature and Fuddish.

Part of being good activists is knowing the process and how the branches of government work. Going on tirades about the topic at hand and then going into the weeds over draconian legislation being discussed is not best directed at a person who’s simply doing their job in another branch of the government.

I was somewhat impressed to see that most of the responses were positive. This conversation is not about permitting nor compulsory training. We can debate the constitutionality about that somewhere else. We do still have footnote #9 in NYSRPA v. Bruen, that says shall-issue permitting may be constitutional.

The conversation is about the stigma of even bringing up mental health issues, nevermind having to actively address them a little proactively.

Gun owners are making their messages heard loud and clear and it’s that “we do care!” You can be both against regulations and pro mental health/suicide awareness without conflict, and that’s exactly what I think we’re seeing. Sound off in the comments.

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