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White House Takes Important Action on Suicide Prevention

Addressing access to firearms and firearm safety are a core part of the president’s plan

Washington, DC —Today Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, shared its support for the Biden administration’s recently announced strategy to prevent suicide, which targets the unique role of firearms in fatal suicide attempts. New initiatives announced today include improving “lethal means safety” in the military and veteran suicide prevention strategy, increasing access to gun storage devices, and promoting best practices for federal firearms dealers, including customer education about firearm safety and security.

Statement from Nico Bocour, Government Affairs Director

“Year after year, the majority of firearms deaths are suicides. Research has shown that time and again, easy access to a loaded and unlocked firearm results in death for those with suicidal ideation. Firearm suicide is a particular crisis for our nation’s veterans and members of the military. We applaud President Biden’s leadership in addressing the epidemic of gun suicide with these important new initiatives.”

The White House’s plan addresses: 

Military and Veteran Suicide: Because one in five gun suicide victims are veterans, the Biden administration will coordinate efforts amongst the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, and Veterans Affairs, to ensure the federal government is comprehensively addressing the military and veteran suicide crisis effectively. This will include limiting access to firearms for a person in a suicidal crisis, as well as enabling family members and supporters to be trained on safety plans and to understand the signs of someone posing a risk to themselves. 

Access to Storage and Safety Devices: The Department of Justice, in coordination with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), will finalize an ATF proposed rule from 2016 clarifying the statutory obligations for federal firearms dealers (FFLs) to make compatible gun storage and safety devices available to people purchasing firearms. This rule would mandate that licensed gun dealers, as well as gun manufacturers and importers that sell firearms to the public, offer gun safety devices that are compatible with the firearms being sold. The rule would also enable ATF to revoke or deny a federal firearms license if a gun dealer, manufacturer, or importer was in violation of this rule and failed to make compatible gun safety devices available to customers buying firearms.

Access to compatible safe storage devices for firearms is a critical mechanism to reduce firearm suicide—research shows that people who securely store their firearms are less likely to die by firearm suicide than those who do not take safe storage precautions. These measures also reduce the risks of youth gun suicide and unintentional gunfire involving children.

Best Practices for Firearms Dealers: The Biden administration will also direct the ATF to issue a best practice guide to all federal firearms dealers that reminds them of their requirement to run background checks for all firearms transfers, clarifies the unlawfulness of selling to prohibited purchasers, and provides a reminder that ATF can revoke the licenses of dealers that willfully transfer weapons to a prohibited purchaser, fail to run a background check, falsify records, refuse to respond to ATF tracing requests, or refuse to permit ATF to inspect their facilities.

This guide will also include materials for FFLs to distribute to customers to clarify their responsibilities as a gun owner and the necessity of safe storage by providing recommendations for tools and technologies—such as alarms, locks, and video surveillance systems—to ensure that all firearms are protected from theft, loss, and misuse.


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