THE BLOG

Michigan CCW Holders' Suicide Rate Higher Than Michigan's General Population

12/01/2010 01:46 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Concealed handgun license holders in the Wolverine State commit suicide at a rate higher than the general Michigan population according to information analyzed by my organization, the Violence Policy Center, as part of our Concealed Carry Killers project, an on-line resource that tallies reports of killings by concealed handgun permit holders that have not been determined to be legitimate self defense.

According to information from the Michigan State Police, for the period July 1, 2007 through June 30, 2008, 29 of Michigan's 164,793 concealed handgun license holders took their own lives for a concealed handgun license holder suicide rate of 17.6 per 100,000 license holders. For the period July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009, 28 of Michigan's 182,749 concealed handgun license holders took their own lives for a concealed handgun license holder suicide rate of 15.3 per 100,000 license holders.

In comparison, in 2007 Michigan's suicide rate for the general population was 11.3 per 100,000. In 2008, the suicide rate for the general population was 11.7 per 100,000. Only data for each calendar year is available and data for 2009 has not yet been released.

But the fact that Michigan concealed handgun license holders have a higher rate of suicide than the state's general population is even more striking given that Michigan law prohibits the issuance of concealed handgun licenses to persons where the local issuing authority has "probable cause to believe that the applicant would be a threat to himself or herself or to other individuals." Michigan's mental health standards for concealed handgun licenses go beyond the federal standards for gun possession. Under federal law, only those persons who have been "adjudicated as a mental defective" or committed to a mental institution are prohibited from possessing firearms.

Without doubt, these 57 deaths will be easily dismissed by pro-gun advocates--who are quick to throw their comrades in arms under the bus whenever the reality of guns in America fails to comport with their own blindered vision.

To date Concealed Carry Killers has documented 188 incidents since May 2007 in 28 states resulting in 276 deaths. In more than two-thirds (129 incidents), the concealed handgun permit holder has already been convicted, committed suicide, or was killed in the incident. Of the 59 cases still pending, the vast majority (49) of concealed handgun permit holders have been charged with criminal homicide, two were deemed incompetent to stand trial, two incidents were unintentional shootings, and six incidents are still under investigation.

If every state that allows concealed carry maintained the level of information and public disclosure that Michigan does, who knows how many additional hidden suicides and non-self defense killings we'd be aware of (Michigan is one of the few states, if not the only, that collects and releases such comprehensive data on those permitted to carry concealed weapons). What we do know, however, is that the debate over concealed carry in America would be far more well informed and the end result far, far different.

But therein lies the raw truth of the pro-concealed carry movement: They're afraid of the release of actual information--lest reality push aside rhetoric.