Today I want to see what these data tell us about the problem of suicide in the United States relative to our peer nations. Are we exceptional here, too?
As with my examination of homicide, this is admittedly a very simplistic analysis. But for my work, it is important to be able to say something about the big picture of negative outcomes with firearms in the United States as a starting point for more sophisticated analyses.
Here I engage the third of the model’s 6 points, offering my own take on guns as a risk factor that tries to navigate between the “YES THEY ARE” and “NO THEY’RE NOT” that too often characterizes discussion of the issue.
Links to videos 1 (Light Over Heat #41) and 2 (Light Over Heat #42) and 3 (Light Over Heat #43) are below.
The model has 6 points, and in this 3rd video, I discuss point 3: how guns are seen to add risk of negative outcomes.
Links to videos 1 (Light Over Heat #41) and 2 (Light Over Heat #42) are below.
ACADEMIC TRIGGER WARNING: I got carried away discussing the methods employed in public health research on guns as a risk factor (I am a professor, after all), so this video is longer and more tedious than average. AND I also took the last third of the video in which I critique the public health research and put it in a separate video that will run next week.
In a recent post, I was critical of a publication in the New England Journal of Medicine called “Crossing Lines–A Change in the Leading Cause of Death among U.S. Children.” Despite the title focusing attention on “children,” the data cited in the article included deaths for individuals 1 to ***24*** years of age, which even in this coddled age stretches the definition of children too far.
I noted in that post, “it may be the case that the leading cause of death among U.S. children has changed. The data provided in this article don’t allow us to answer that question.”
With Module 8 the course shifts its attention to what could generally be called negative outcomes with firearms: injury and death, both suicide (Module 8) and homicide (Module 9), as well as issues surrounding police use of force (Module 10).
I am particularly interested in ways in which those involved in gun culture can play a role in reducing negative outcomes with guns. Initiatives like the Gun Shop Project and Walk the Talk America (WTTA) provide some models. I am pleased for the fourth consecutive year to welcome to class as a guest speaker gun trainer Rob Pincus, a board member of WTTA and co-founder (with Dan Gross, formerly of Brady) of the Center for Gun Rights and Responsibilities.
Firearms are here to stay. Just as we encourage safe sex rather than abstinence to reduce the burden of teenage pregnancy, we can encourage safe firearm storage rather than simply discouraging firearm ownership altogether in our efforts to reduce gun violence.
Although the topic is grim — suicide — I am very excited to welcome to my Sociology of Guns seminar today two guests who have unique perspectives on the issue. Michael Sodini is founder and President of Walk the Talk America (WTTA), and Rob Pincus is a trustee of the organization.
WTTA was founded in 2018 with the goal of reducing suicides and other negative outcomes associated with firearms. I have been remiss in not writing about the organization before now. I actually spent some time at the WTTA booth at the Shooting Hunting Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show in January 2019, and Pincus (making his 3rd consecutive class appearance this year) spoke in my Sociology of Guns seminar in Spring 2019 about the issue of suicide and the work of WTTA.
In my Sociology of Guns seminar, I typically allocate 2 or 3 of the modules to gun injury, suicide, and homicide. Teaching on-line this semester, I provided the students with an overview of negative outcomes with guns asynchronously (via a narrated PowerPoint turned into a YouTube video) so we would have more time in our on-line (Zoom) synchronous class session to delve into the issues more deeply.
As noted previously, for the final assignment of the semester in my Sociology of Guns Seminar in Spring 2019, students were asked to write a 1,000 to 2,000 word essay in which they would:
revisit your previous personal experience with and understanding of guns in the U.S. (as expressed, e.g., in the field trip reflection essay) in light of your consideration of the role guns actually do play in American society. Reflecting on what you learned from completing your major writing assignment, as well as the class more generally, discuss how your mind has (and/or has not) changed. Conclude this paper by considering what more you need to know in order to make informed choices about your own participation with and the place of guns in the communities in which you live and will live in the future.