WASHINGTON – U.S. Representatives Pramila Jayapal (WA-07) and John Curtis (UT-03) today introduced a bipartisan bill aimed at curbing gun suicides. Nearly 24,000 people die by gun suicide in America every year. As our country continues to confront our epidemic of gun violence, and even as President Biden signed into law the first gun safety legislation in over 30 years, we must address all aspect of this crisis, gun suicides included. The Preventing Suicide Through Voluntary Firearm Purchase Delay Act would curb gun suicides by allowing people to voluntarily enroll themselves onto a “do not sell” list, preventing them from accessing a gun later on to harm themselves or others should they experience a mental health emergency.
“We are losing thousands of people every year to gun suicide. That’s thousands of people who thought they had no way out, who were suffering. We can and must solve for this public health crisis which has taken so many lives,” said Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. “The odds of successfully committing suicide are 140 times greater when there is a gun. Comprehensively addressing the gun violence epidemic in our country means ending gun suicides too. In Washington, where more than 75% of gun deaths are suicides, I’m proud that my home state was the first to pass a version of the bill Congressman Curtis and I are introducing today. Our bill ensures that people who are liable to hurt themselves cannot access a firearm. We are loud and steadfast in our commitment to save lives.”
“I deeply regret that many feel the only way out of a difficult situation is to take their own life. It takes incredible courage by those experiencing a mental health emergency to recognize the danger they pose to themselves, particularly if they have access to a firearm during this time,” said Congressman John Curtis. “Utah has a successful law on the books to allow individuals to voluntarily and temporarily surrender firearms during difficult times, and I believe this same program could help those in other states as well.”
Six out of ten gun deaths in the U.S. are suicide. The Preventing Suicide Through Voluntary Firearm Purchase Delay Act aims to decrease that number by allowing people to voluntarily enroll themselves onto a voluntary firearm purchase delay list for firearms, a mechanism that 46% of people at high risk of suicide at the University of Alabama Medical Center indicated they would use. The bill would ensure that if an enrolled person later experiences a mental health emergency, they would be unable to purchase a firearm. This service could be implemented in care plans for people experiencing mental illness, as well as in other settings where access to this service could be beneficial, including in schools.
Endorsing organizations include American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, National Alliance on Mental Illness, National Education Association, and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education.