Much ado has been made about an effort to broaden Georgia’s concealed carry rules during the current legislative session. Galloway notes this morning that the effort to get something passed may not be as smooth as some had hoped.
Meanwhile, Democratic Senate candidate Dr. Branko Radulovacki (yes, there are Democratic Senate candidates not named Michelle Nunn) weighs in on the debate. Dr. Rad is a psychiatrist, so perhaps his opinion on the issue should be respected.
As a psychiatrist, I am relieved that the expanded concealed carry bill known as SB101 appears to be dead. Before legislators in the Georgia House rush to replace it with a new bill, let’s separate fact from fiction. Supporters of concealed weapons on college campuses claim armed adolescents will be better able to defend themselves against crime. Statistics suggest a more sobering outcome. Odds are, the vast majority of guns fired on campuses will be suicides. And when the shooting stops, our state legislators’ claim to good intentions won’t matter.
SB101 was pitched as a ‘right to safety bill,’ but its proponents didn’t do their homework. Before a substitute bill is hurried through a rushed legislative session, I’ll do the homework for them. We live in a society that often portrays those with mental illness as violent – and the epidemic of gun violence as the inevitable result. That’s inaccurate. Only 5% of violent incidents are caused by those with mental disorders. That means those with mental illness are much more likely to be victims than perpetrators.
In 2010 (the most recent year for which such data is available), 6 out of 10 gun deaths were suicides. The same year, 1100 suicides occurred on college campuses and approximately half involved a gun. Those statistics should be on our minds when we consider tossing guns into the college campus mix with adolescents, drugs and alcohol, loneliness, depression, very little structure, and limited supervision.
Georgia’s legislators need to listen: When we can foresee that more lives are likely to be lost than saved by the increased presence of guns, it’s time to lay down the weapons and put safety first.