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25 Feb, 2023 22:11

Pentagon wants to make it harder for US soldiers to kill themselves

With America’s military facing a suicide crisis, a study group has suggested blocking service members from buying firearms
Pentagon wants to make it harder for US soldiers to kill themselves

A Pentagon advisory panel formed to help address a suicide crisis in the US military has recommend imposing gun control measures on American service members to make it harder for them to kill themselves.

Soldiers under age 25 would be banned from buying guns on US bases, while all others would face a seven-day waiting period to complete their firearm purchases under a plan released on Friday by the Pentagon’s suicide prevention committee. The group also called for creating a database to track guns purchased on US military property, which would require repealing legislation passed by Congress in 2013 to prohibit such tactics, as well as a waiting period on ammunition sales.

“When we look at the science of suicide prevention, there's arguably only one thing that all researchers agree on,” said panel member Craig Bryan, a safety expert at Ohio State University. “And that one thing is that taking steps to slow down convenient access to highly lethal methods like firearms is the single-most effective strategy for saving lives.”

Such measures would put the US military in the position of inhibiting the constitutional gun rights of its own service members, who exist ostensibly to defend American freedoms. It will be up to the Pentagon and Congress to determine whether to implement any or all of the panel’s recommendations.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin created the advisory committee last March. The Pentagon said it has “taken note” of the group’s report and will use it to enhance its current approach to suicide prevention. “Secretary Austin has emphasized that the department’s most valuable resource is its people and that they will spare no effort in working to prevent suicide and save lives.”

Deaths by suicide among active-duty US troops jumped 44% between 2015 and 2020, rising to 384, even as the military adopted special training and intervention measures. Nearly 17 US military veterans kill themselves each day, on average, according to the Veterans Administration.

Stores on US military bases reportedly sold more than 113,000 firearms in 2021. The advisory committee said guns were involved in two-thirds of suicides by active-duty troops.