BELLEVUE, WA – Predicting that the benefits from saving lives by suicide prevention will amount to a “tenfold” return on the investment, Second Amendment Foundation founder Alan Gottlieb today joined several others today, testifying in support of Substitute House Bill 2793, the Suicide Awareness and Prevention Education for Safer Homes Act.
Gottlieb, who is also the SAF executive vice president and chairman of the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms, helped craft the measure. He told the House Committee on Finance Friday that by providing financial incentives in the form of Business and Occupation Tax breaks to firearms retailers and range operators, the Legislature will “substantially increase” their participation.
Gottlieb was joined in his support by Prof. Jennifer Stuber from the University of Washington, who lost her husband to suicide. She told the committee that “far more people” are lost each year to suicide than to car accidents and firearms mishaps combined.
Lori Pender, a clinical pharmacist whose niece died in a firearm suicide, also supported the measure. During her brief testimony, she noted that gun owner groups and gun range operators are the best people to discuss safe storage. A lobbyist representing the National Rifle Association, concurred, explaining that gun range operators and retailers enjoy the kind of communication with customers that other people don’t have. He called the measure a “logical, common sense approach” that is “about awareness and education, not gun control.”
Rep. Tina Orwall, prime sponsor of the bill, noted that Washington has a higher suicide rate than the national average, with firearms and drug overdoses accounting for the largest share of those deaths. She told the committee that the legislation “can make a difference” at gun ranges and gun stores, and that this bill represents the work of many different interest groups that have come together to work on solutions.
Gottlieb later said he is encouraged by the broad support for this measure, calling it a positive step toward suicide reduction without penalizing law-abiding gun owners.