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Americans are constantly bombarded by the statistics “gun violence” here in our country, but what’s missing from the conversation is what those numbers really represent. The vast majority of deaths involving guns aren’t due to violent crime or school shootings or accidental discharges, the problem is suicide, and it’s a very big problem indeed.
Since 2008, the rate of gun suicides has risen 22 percent and is driving the increase in gun-related deaths. (Suicides make up almost two-thirds of all gun-related deaths.) Among children and teens in particular, the gun-suicide rate is up more than 76 percent. Although only a small percentage of suicide attempts are made with a firearm, more than half of all suicide deaths are carried out with one. The primary victims are older white men.
As I’ve mentioned before on Ricochet, gun owners need to take the initiative with this issue and find ways to end this epidemic of self-inflicted horror before people outside our community impose their ways on us, to the detriment of our constitutional rights. Gun owners need to find more ways to come together as a community of like-minded individuals and support each other based on our shared love of the shooting sports, in order to make the friendships that can be a rock to cling to during the everyday storms of life.
I recently attended the inaugural “Warrior Club” event at Gator Firearms and Tactical, a large training facility here in Southwest Florida. I will confess that originally, I had some trepidation about this event. I’ve never served in the military, and my role as an armed citizen is to protect my family and friends, not charge into battle with an M4 rifle in my hands, and a name like “Warrior Club,” I had visions of camouflage netting and small unit tactics dancing in my head.
When I showed up the event, however, I was pleased to see a mixture of obvious armed citizens like myself along with a smattering of first responders from some of the local government agencies. We started off the day with a series of pistol drills, then moved on to a more real-life situation where we engaged targets in a simulated road rage situation. We swapped out the range for the classroom, and learned about the use of a tourniquet to save lives and then we had a quick overview of some basic jiu-jitsu moves to help keep us safe when a gun just isn’t an option.
Rather than a lightweight version of Ranger School, Warrior Club turned out to be much closer to a one-day version of another training event, the yearly Tactical Conference put on by Rangemaster firearms training. Like the Tactical Conference, Warrior Club features a variety of instructors who teach a variety of different courses that are relative to the armed citizen. While nowhere near as intensive as Tactical Conference, Warrior Club allowed me and my fellow attendees to gain a whole lot of knowledge in just a short time, and more importantly, we got to know each other as friends, neighbors and fellow gun enthusiasts. Along with people from all of south Florida, I met three other gun owners from my small little town on the edge of the Everglades at this event, and we quickly made plans to keep in touch after class was over.
Shooting guns is fun, and shooting guns with friends is even more fun. Maybe it’s time that gun owners find ways to spread the joy of a well-placed shot amongst ourselves and others. We need to find more ways to bond over the shared experience of a great time at the range, and keep in touch and support each other after we leave the range as well. In doing so, we can help save the lives of our loved ones by being armed and prepared to defend ourselves, and save the lives of our friends by being the source of strength they need to need to survive and thrive in the toughest of times.