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The issue of gun control divides the people of Montana and the United States. In spite of repeated mass tragedies, nothing ever gets done to improve our situation. Both sides seem unable to find reasonable, common sense solutions. I would like to offer two possible solutions which will not eliminate gun violence but may reduce the number of tragedies and save some lives.

The shooters in the Texas Church shooting, the Las Vegas massacre and the California school all had a history of domestic violence. Research indicates there is a correlation between domestic violence and gun violence. Montana should consider passing legislation with preventative restraining orders for people convicted of domestic violence. They should not be allowed to own guns. Such laws have been passed in California, Connecticut, Indiana, Oregon and Washington.

In 2016 there were 12 suicides in Lewis and Clark County. The lethal means in six of those suicides were firearms. In 2017 there were 19 suicides in Lewis and Clark County, 14 of them by firearms. It is difficult to comprehend, but more people die from firearms committing suicide than die from homicide using guns every year. Montana should consider a law similar to the law in the State of Washington which it makes it mandatory for gun dealers to take a course on suicide prevention and have educational material in their places of business.

Food for thought.

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Dr. Gary Mihelish is president of the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Helena.


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