UA law professor proposes program to reduce gun suicides

Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 12:40 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - About 50 percent of all suicides involve a firearm, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Alabama Law Professor Fredrick Vars said there’s a way to reduce gun suicides in the state of Alabama.

Vars explained that those at risk of suicide should have the option to voluntarily place their name on a registry, prohibiting gun stores from selling them a gun. A survey of 200 patients receiving psychiatric care in Alabama found that 46% of people said they would register for a do-not-sell list if it were available.

In a more general survey, 31% of internet users reported they wanted to participate in a gun registry. While doctors may hospitalize or file a petition for an extreme risk protection order for a patient who is suicidal, Vars stresses this program provides a peace of mind.

He’s speaking from his own personal experience, struggling with bipolar disorder. “I’ve had suicidal thoughts and in the periods and which I’m feeling well I don’t want to take proactive steps to reduce my risk of suicide. We in Alabama love their guns. But gun suicide is something everyone can get around. Nobody wants guns used in that way. No one wants to lose loved ones,” said Vars.

This bill has already been introduced in Alabama by a republican and the program is being used in Virginia and Washington.

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