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I've been doing some serious thinking recently, and I could use some advice. This is going to be somewhat lengthy and very personal, so thank you in advance for your feedback. I don't have a distinct question, but many of you are more wise than me and I'd like your advice.

I've recently been trying to get some of my loved ones into firearms. I've succeeded in convincing my parents to get FOID cards, and I recently took my girlfriend shooting, so I'm happy with how it's been going so far. I've been trying to talk them into owning/carrying guns for defensive purposes, and I came across a couple disturbing remarks that have put me in a serious quandary.

My mother admitted that the only reason she got a FOID was so that she could buy me gifts, which is nice, but not my intention. I asked her why she wouldn't buy a gun for herself and she replied that she's afraid of how she might use it. I didn't press the matter further, because I knew what she meant. My mother has had a drinking problem for as long as I've known her, and I suspect that she struggles with depression, though she's flatly refused to see a mental health professional for help with either issue. I'm not at all worried that she would consider it wise to get drunk and go to a shooting range (or anything of the sort because she's been very well educated about firearms safety), but what I am worried about is the possibility of her hurting herself with a firearm if she's feeling depressed, especially if those feelings are worsened by alcohol.

My girlfriend has a similar problem. She's been very open since the beginning of our relationship about her depression. She has confessed to me that she attempted suicide on a single occasion many years ago, and her attempt prompted her to see a mental health professional (no, she was not institutionalized or anything like that as far as I know). As a very strong proponent of raising awareness for mental health, she's been extremely proactive about her depression. She's made a tremendous amount of progress during the course of our relationship, but she's explained to me that a person with depression will always have depression (they learn ways to minimize its effects, but the effects are never gone). She told me that she had a lot of fun when I took her shooting, and she'd gladly go again, but she would never want to own a gun herself. She went so far as to say that if we end up living together, getting married, having kids, etc., that she would not ever want access to my guns. She said it would be okay for me to own as many guns as I wanted, but she would not want to know the combinations to my gunsafes. She also confessed that a relative of hers took his life with a gun, so this is a very serious issue for her. Rightly so, I'll say.

For my mother, things are a little more straightforward. I think that unless she sees mental health professional, she should not own a gun. I don't think her having a FOID card is a risk in itself because she's already demonstrated good judgement, but I probably won't encourage her to renew the permit when it expires. To be honest, she only drinks at night, so I'm not worried about her making a spontaneous, alcohol-induced decision to purchase a gun and harm herself because all the nearby gun stores are closed at night, (and the much bigger threat to her safety would be drunk driving).

For my girlfriend I'm a little more torn. On the one hand, I agree that a person who struggles with depression and who's attempted suicide should not own a gun. On the other hand, I wonder whether a person who has sought treatment for a mental health condition, and who has made tremendous progress towards continuously improving her condition, should abstain from gun ownership for the rest of her life. Maybe she's right that she should never own a gun, but that brings me to another question. Should she be forever prevented from accessing any of my firearms? Suppose I do end up marrying this girl (which is a strong possibility, to be honest), and suppose she has to defend herself inside our home while I am absent. Should I really leave her to defend herself without the means of a firearm?

The point I'm trying to make here is that I want my loved ones to be able to use a gun to protect themselves from harm, but it's paradoxical for me to insist that they exchange one danger for another. What are your thoughts on all this?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
I tried google, but the only decent material I could find was a Guns and Ammo article that wasn't very relevant, and a well-written article on Bloomberg's website that cautions against those with depression owning guns. The Bloomberg article stated that most people who attempt and fail suicide do not reattempt it later, and I'm apt to believe that my girlfriend would be very unlikely to reattempt suicide.
 

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I dont think its a good idea to give them guns. I think the risk is too great especially if they express feelings or thoughts of self harm. I wouldnt want to put a loved one in a position where those actions were any easier. Pepper spray or something may be more appropriate. Also perhaps some self defense courses and home security measures. If people arent open to the idea of owning and carrying firearms for defense then dont push it on them. Its not for everyone. Be honest and open and express your concerns for their safety but be respectful of their wishes and conditions.

Depression is about the most awful damn curse on mankind I can think of. I hate it more than anything. I was diagnosed even before high school. Ive learned to deal with it and it gets really bad at times. At some point the bad bouts end and I'm back to a more normal self. My wife is a huge help. She knows how to help and support me. I could literally lock myself away for days on end in the dark but she basically distracts me from it. I gotta get up and get moving, be active. Get the good chemicals pumping in the brain again. Alot of people cant live with it. Those people who consider self harm as a legit measure to end their suffering shouldnt have firearms. If they get help and learn to deal with the disease and can handle the bad times then maybe. Thats gotta be for you and your loved ones to decide, it can and will take time to work it out for sure one way or another.
 
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I'll put it this way, you cant know what other people are actually thinking or whats really going on in their heads. That being the case, when you have these two people tell you they dont want guns, its in your best interests to go with that. They know whats going on in their heads better than you do.

If your fear is that they would not be able to defend themselves there are a lot of other options for them other than guns.

If I were you, I think I would just be happy if you thought they could handle operating a gun in an emergency and knew enough if they came across a loaded gun how to safely unload or store it properly.
 

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Defense of one's self begins with the decision to do it.
In this case you have two very clear cases of loved ones that are telling you they can't or wont or shouldn't or feel uncomfortable with the situation. Listen to what they are saying.

Accept that they feel this way. Don't push the subject as it may have a negative effect.

Instead, take them out shooting and be supportive, and make it fun. Do not make it about self defense, then they will be receiving training in firearm function and handling without actually receiving it.

As for yourself, it comes to acceptance of their positions and consequences of such.


Remember that you live in an ocean of other people's decisions. Good or bad they may be. The only thing you can do is, do what you can, when you can, maneuvering around those decisions.
 

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Yeah, my thoughts are these:

1) move out of that horrid state if you can.
2) don't let either one of them have access to guns.

This isnt just a case of people who tend to be moody or down from time to time. They both clearly have more severe cases of depression and actually pose a risk. So the risk on that front is just too great compared to the benefits of them having access to firearms.

Even if they could access firearms, at the end of the day, what benefit is that going to provide? I'm not trying to be mysoganistic (sic), far from it, but unless someone owns and trains with a weapon, and this applies to males or females but probably especially females, they are not going to use a gun effectively in an adrenaline fueld, life or death situation.

Just get the strongest bear mace you can find, and train them to squeeze that trigger and run in the opposite direction if anyone comes in the home. Pepper spray does work, i read of an incident nearby recently where a girl sprayed one of three attackers and they all fled.
 

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Neither of them should own guns or be pushed to do so.

Your girlfriend might turn around one day in the very far future, but you dont know what she will do with them now so I would let it be. And surely lock your guns up, as she said she wouldnt want access to them.
 

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I would have to agree with the rest, do not push them.

However, it's not necessarily depression based but rather the fact that they do not trust themselves with a gun. I can say so with experience and that with this being a mostly anonymous forum, I do not have much of an issue saying it and will explain.
From up until the time I was 15, I was bullied and harrased damn near daily in school and one day, I got in a fight but even though I won, it pushed me over the edge. That led to my suicide attempt in march of my freshman year. The only reason I'm here is because the firing pin broke on that shitty rossi but I am now thankful for it. Hell, beyond this post, the only person who knows this is my ex. Does it still haunt me, damn skippy it does. Your GF is right that depression never leaves BUT I found ways to minimize it and oddly enough, getting into guns was my way out. That paired with moving schools and meeting that girl, even if she broke my heart, is why I'm still here. I may still be a lonely, socially screwed shithead but hey, guns and offroading is how I make some damn decent friends and they are things that keep me busy and minimize the depression, especially whenever that darkness grips. However, that is very very rare for me now. It's more or less just carries over into times where I become a moody asshole but hey, better than the previous.

Just never let those affected forget that there are people who care. NEVER let them feel totally alone. You'd be surprised how something as simple as caring could help so much. If yall know anyone that that may just be suffering from it, just drop them a line every once in a while, stop by and share a few beers and bs a little. It's a lifesaver. Those that are strong will find ways to cope but just keep in mind what I've said.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone. I should have clarified in my original post that I would never force or coerce anyone to own a gun. I view the Second Amendment and any extent of its exercise as a personal choice, rather than an obligation. Although there have been instances in which forced gun ownership of an entire community led to lower crime rates in that community, I don't think there is any justification for forcing/coercing an individual to make a choice based on an "ends justify the means" argument. In short, I wouldn't force anybody who didn't want to own a gun to own a gun.

With that being said, thanks again for all your feedback. You all reinforced what I was already thinking, which is a relief. I do plan to keep taking them shooting (when they want to, of course) so that they're familiar/comfortable with guns and so that I can enjoy one of my favorite hobbies with my favorite people.
 

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The fact that both of them freely informed you they dont want to possess a firearm suggests that depression continues to be an important issue for them. I wouldnt force the subject of gun ownership.

Harv
 
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