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Guns and Military Connected Suicides

An Army Psychiatrist feels that gun control is an issue. A Fort Bragg Brigade Commander disagrees.

Guns and Military Connected Suicides

In June this past year,   ELSPETH CAMERON RITCHIE, one of the Army's top psychiatrists posted a story in Time Magazine about the reality of the issue at hand involving suicide and guns in the Army.

Guns account for 70% of the military suicides. 

According to Ritchie, in theater, these deaths are typically linked to government-issued weapons. Back at home, they are usually by the service member's personal weapon. Do you know anyone in the military who does not own at least one firearm?

After his involvement in hundreds of cases, including investigations at Fort Bragg he attributes both alcohol and easy access to weapons as a major theme.

"This is especially true in the impulsive suicides, those precipitated by an acute break-up or getting in trouble in work", said Ritchie.

Having been around Army communities for 14 years, other root causes that have surfaced are financial issues, morale when dealing with operational tempo (OPTEMPO) tied to deployments, and family matters.

The Right to Bear Arms

While Ritchie is not insinuating that guns should be taken away, he is merely talking about some ideas that might not make it so easy to make a life ending decision final.

"Our constitution provides every citizen the right to bear arms. Our Soldiers defend the constitution and deserve the rights afforded to those same citizens that we protect", said Col. Chad McRee, Director of Emergency Services and Cdr., 16th MP Bde. "While guns certainly can be a means for harm, guns do not harm people, people do." 

Excerpts from Public Law No: 111-383, Sec. 1062:

A- The SecDef shall not prohibit, issue any requirement relating to, or collect or record any information relating to the otherwise lawful acquisition, possession, ownership, carrying, or other use of a privately owned firearm, privately owned ammunition, or another privately owned weapon by a member of the Armed Forces or civilian employee of the Department of Defense on property that is not a military installation; or any other property that is owned or operated by the Department of Defense

B- The SecDef shall destroy any record containing information that was collected before the enactment of this Act

C- The SecDef’s authority shall not be limited to create or maintain records relating to an investigation, prosecution, or adjudication of an alleged violation of law

D- The SecDef shall conduct a comprehensive review of the privately owned weapons policy of the Department of Defense,  and submit a report of the findings and recommendations

E- CDRs CAN ask: “Do you own a gun that you intend to bring onto a military installation or military housing area?”

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