Urge Governor to sign HB514
I am writing to urge Governor Sununu to sign HB514, an act imposing a waiting period between the purchase and delivery of a firearminto law.
This legislation which will authorize a short waiting period (3 working days) before a person can obtain a purchased firearms can be an important step in reducing successful suicides in our state. Our state has seen a large increase in the rates of suicide attempts and successful suicidal deaths in the past several years. In 2017 the CDC data shows that NH’s suicide rate is the16th highest in the country and is more than 30% above the nation’s average rate. In our country more than half of successful suicides are due to firearms and using a firearm to attempt suicide increases the case fatality rate above all other types of suicidal attempts. While increasing the availability of mental health care is very important in reducing suicides, giving people in crisis time between thinking of suicide and obtaining a firearm which increases the lethality of a suicide attempt has been shown to be a way to reduce suicide deaths.
I understand the concern of supporters of gun ownership that this legislation could reduce gun ownership by placing a restriction in the ability to obtain a firearm immediately upon purchase, but as in many parts of our lives one needs to balance the inconvenience of a waiting period with the potential life saving ability that a waiting period provides. Certainly, a 3 day waiting period cannot be seen as a prohibition of gun ownership or a violation of the Second Amendment as some people have stated.
As a physician I have seen first hand how patients and families in NH struggle when family members suffer from mental health issues and suicidal thoughts. That suffering and guilt increases when a family member attempts suicide despite efforts to obtain help. Placing a short waiting period between the time when a gun is purchased and can actually be obtained may seem like a small step but it can be a life saving step in preventing death from suicide.
Giving people with suicidal thoughts more time to obtain help, giving family members more time to recognize this issues and providing some time between thinking about getting a gun and having a gun are all ways to save lives.
I urge our Governor to sign this important legislation, HB514, when it comes before him in the Governor’s office. I hope others in our community will contact him to let him know you also support this legislation as a way to save lives in our state.