White House announces suicide prevention efforts
The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new plan to prevent suicide, including safe storage of guns and best practices for gun sales, with a focus on those in the military and veterans.
The White House released a comprehensive military and veteran suicide prevention strategy, which will involve the Defense Department, Homeland Security Department and others working together to create a plan to address lethal means safety.
The government departments will develop messaging on lethal means education, training and program evaluation to educate the public through public service announcements, paid media, toolkits and maps for individuals to find a safe place to store guns in their homes.
The most common method of suicide is by firearm and two-thirds of all firearm deaths are suicides, according to the White House. The risk of death by suicide is tripled when a person has access to a gun.
In its plan, the White House stated the Justice Department would finalize a rule on clarifying gun dealers’ obligations to make available for purchase gun storage or safety devices. The rule was first proposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) in 2016.
Thirdly, the ATF plans to issue a best practices guide to all federal gun dealers about legal requirements as well as additional steps they are encouraged to take for safety. The bureau will recommend steps like using alarm and video surveillance systems in stores to prevent theft.
The guide will include the Justice Department’s “zero-tolerance approach” that ATF will revoke the licenses of dealers who willfully transfer a gun to a prohibited person, don’t run a required background check, falsify records or commit other violations.
The three new steps build on the administration’s previous gun violence prevention actions, according to the White House, including the model extreme risk protection order legislation for states that the Justice Department issued earlier this year.
President Biden has continued to urge Congress to pass a national red flag law, which would allow police or family members to petition courts to temporarily remove firearms from people in crisis, according to the White House.
Biden has also encouraged Congress to pass legislation incentivizing states to pass their own versions of the red flag law.