Bloodwashing: Suicide Prevention And The Art Of Image Control

LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 17:  Attendees try out Sig Sauer 1911 model pistols at the Sig Sauer booth at the National Shooting S
LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 17: Attendees try out Sig Sauer 1911 model pistols at the Sig Sauer booth at the National Shooting Sports Foundation's 34th annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade (SHOT) Show at the Sands Expo and Convention Center January 17, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The SHOT Show is the largest annual gathering of shooting professionals with more than 1,600 exhibitors and 30,000 attendees expected. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

In the environmental movement they call it greenwashing: A big polluter plants a few trees in the rainforest in hopes that they can get some good publicity they can leverage for their next bad move. It's a sham and everyone knows it.

In the gun violence movement we don't have a word for it, but the latest move by the National Shooting Sports Foundation suggests we need one. Maybe red washing? Bloodwashing?

The National Shooting Sports Foundation or NSSF is a trade association for gun dealers -- (just like the National Rifle Association or NRA, although that group pretends to actually represent people not businesses.)

Recently these merchants of murder announced their new plan to help prevent 10,000 gun suicides. They want the public to believe they did so out of deep abiding commitment to saving lives. They didn't. I know this not because I can read the minds of the gun-toting elite but because we already know what can be done to prevent thousands of suicides by gun.

States with firearm waiting period laws have a significantly lower rate of suicide -- 27 percent fewer suicides per capita and 51 percent fewer firearm suicides. And yet gun groups including the NSSF have consistently opposed any law mandating a reasonable amount of time pass between the decision to purchase a gun and the actually getting your hands on one.

Mike Lewiecki, whose son's suicide is featured in Making a Killing: Guns, Greed, and the NRA, knows this all too well. Kerry Lewiecki was just a few weeks from his wedding when he was overcome with pain and made the fatal decision to buy a gun and take his own life within the space of just a few hours.

As Mike later learned, and wrote about here, Kerry's story was all too common. Suicide is rarely a well thought out plan but rather an impulsive act with deadly consequences.

Whether a suicide attempt results in death depends largely on how it is attempted. Guns are particularly deadly. Nine out of 10 suicide attempts using a gun are lethal. Compare that to intentional overdoses, in which 1 in 50 suicide attempts result in death.

Restricting access to the most lethal means of suicide, such as guns, can reduce suicides. Studies have proven this.

But restricting access also means fewer gun sales, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the National Rifle Association will do whatever they possibly can to sell guns. Indeed, it is their whole reason for being and the reason our gun laws in this country are so warped.

So instead, they promise to train people to recognize the signs of the potentially suicidal. It can't hurt, but it's not enough to save lives nor is it enough to change the sad reality that groups like this, and like the NRA, are committed to one thing only: Profit.