For a powerful first-person endorsement in Vox, click here
Prof. Ian Ayres, J.D., Ph.D. (Yale law)
“About 20,000 people kill themselves with handguns every year. Some of these people might, during moments of clarity, opt out of the ability to buy guns. There is every chance that Vars’s registry could save hundreds of lives each year – without causing a huge new bureaucracy, but merely by supplementing the national list that already exists.
“. . . The right to bear arms must certainly embrace the option not to bear them. And extending this right by giving citizens the right to pre-commit not to purchase firearms should be seen as enhancing our liberty. Vars’s proposal is one that every card-carrying libertarian should endorse. It’s the kind of voluntary gun control that even the NRA can support – especially as it comes with self-chosen methods for subsequently removing yourself from the list.”
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Prof. David Coombs, Ph.D., M.P.H. (UAB public health, emeritus)
“This is to endorse without reservation ‘Help Prevent Gun Suicide,’ a project initiated by Professor Fredrick Vars of the University of Alabama School of Law. Professor Vars seeks to legally allow persons at risk for suicide to voluntarily add their names to the FBI’s no gun buy list for registered gun dealers. This would prevent such persons, at least temporarily, from impulsively buying a gun from a registered gun dealer to commit suicide. As a suicidogist for many years I am certain this measure would prevent hundreds of suicide deaths every year. Many suicides are committed impulsively during a severe crisis when victims are in despair and convinced they have no other option. We know that if they can be prevented from killing themselves more often than not the crisis will pass and they can then obtain help. Given the contagion of gun suicides and homicides afflicting our country this is a life-saving measure that should be implemented as soon as possible.”
Dr. Richard Shelton, M.D. (UAB psychiatry)
“Professor Fredrick Vars has proposed a simple and sensible alternative for people who have recurring periods of suicidal thinking: add their names to a gun ‘do not sell’ list. A natural first response might be ‘would anyone really do that?’ As a practicing psychiatrist I see suicidal people on a regular basis. Many of them readily agree to safety measures such as removing guns from their homes, committing themselves to a psychiatric hospital, and securing their medications to protect themselves. It seems likely that people will take the further step of blocking access to firearms in this way. A voluntary and confidential system of ‘opting out’ is a reasonable next step in reducing suicide deaths.”
Prof. Joseph Blocher, J.D., M.Phil. (Duke law)
“This proposal could save lives, and would do so while respecting everyone’s Second Amendment rights. Far from being a government-imposed restriction, this proposal serves a very important form of liberty: Freedom from threats of violence – self–inflicted, in this case. The fact that the proposal is voluntary is crucial – it puts the decision in the hands of individuals, and it is difficult to imagine why the constitution would prevent people from protecting themselves against their own impulses. Like speech, religion, and other rights, the right to keep and bear arms should include a right not to do so.”
More by Blocher on the Second Amendment here
Banner art: Herbert James Draper, Study for rower in Ulysses and the Sirens (1909). The copyright for this work has expired.