Press Release

Giffords Law Center Leads Vermont Roundtable with Local Leaders to Detail How the State Can Reduce the Number of Gun Suicides  

Giffords, Vermont Medical Society, American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, and GunSense Vermont join together to focus on making progress in preventing suicides

Strong gun safety laws, like waiting periods, will be critical to saving more lives in Vermont

February 6, 2018 — Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly, led a roundtable at the Vermont state capital to discuss and plan how to reduce gun suicides in the state. The meeting, in coordination with the Vermont Medical Society, American Academy of Pediatrics Vermont Chapter, and GunSense Vermont, focused on how stronger gun violence prevention laws like waiting periods for firearm sales can help reduce the suicide epidemic in Vermont.

“Today leaders came together to call attention to a problem that takes too many lives: gun suicides,” said Hannah Shearer, staff attorney at Giffords Law Center who presented at the roundtable. “Tragically, Vermont is no stranger to the suicide epidemic and it’s a problem that is not slowing down. The state can address this and get people help they need before their lives are lost by passing effective laws like waiting periods. This discussion was a critical first step in realizing the importance of this lifesaving policy, and the local groups in Vermont are doing incredible work to help push legislation forward. As the start of the legislative session draws closer, we look forward to partnering with Vermont lawmakers and state groups to pass a bill that addresses the deadly link between access to firearms and suicide.”

A report by Giffords Law Center, Confronting the Inevitability Myth: How Data-Driven Gun Policies Save Lives from Suicide, highlights the lethal connection between guns and suicide. The report finds that over half of all suicides result from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Yet the link between gun access and suicide risk remains dangerously misunderstood, denied, and ignored. While the gun lobby continues to perpetuate the myth that guns play no role in suicide, the reality is the vast majority of people who attempt suicide survive their attempt, recover, and do not go on to die by suicide—unless they use firearms. This is why guns are used in 5% of suicide attempts but cause over 50% of suicide deaths.

Vermont currently requires no waiting period between the time of purchase and the actual physical transfer of a firearm, and the numbers show that suicide rates are much higher in states with weak gun laws and broad access to firearms. In 2018, the legislature took steps to decrease suicides by establishing an extreme risk protection order and requiring background checks on most gun sales. The legislature can expand their efforts from last year by implementing waiting periods, which provide a brief but crucial cooling off period to guard against impulsive, suicidal gun purchases.

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