When President Trump in his speech Monday promoted “red flag” gun laws as a way to reduce gun violence, in the aftermath of two mass shootings last weekend, he was prescribing laws that have been enacted in 17 states, including in Colorado.
We still do not know in detail how these laws are working collectively, but there at least seems to be anecdotal evidence that they are useful to take guns away from those who may harm themselves.
In Colorado, in the wake of the law’s passage this year, more than half of the 64 counties declared themselves in opposition to the new law, including Montezuma County (but not La Plata County).
So Fox31 in Denver did a quick comparison the other day of suicide rates and red-flag opposition by Colorado county, using data from the state Department of Health and Environment for the gun suicide rate per 100,000 people, from 2013-2017.
Spoiler alert: Many of the counties that opposed the red-flag law also have high gun suicide rates, including Montezuma, which had 20 or more such deaths in the four-year period.
We do not think this is ironic. We do think it may be a misunderstanding.
There are tens of thousands of gun deaths in the U.S. every year, which seems to be painfully well understood; less known is that more than half are suicides. The state’s new law is unlikely to prevent the next mass shooting simply because we do not know what will, but, the president notwithstanding, it could prove to be a tool to make suicide harder.