A Different Kind of Gun Misuse in Oak Park, IL – despite the handgun ban

I usually talk about the armed robberies in Oak Park, IL, which occur despite the decades old handgun ban, and village officials who make the flatly untrue claim that Oak Park is “gun free”.  However this week there was a different kind of (very sad) gun abuse reported:

Through a shop window on Lake Street, a passerby one morning last week spotted a person lying face down. When police arrived at 703 Lake at about 9 a.m. Dec. 11, they found Cartridge World owner William T. “Terry” Shea dead. According to the Cook County medical examiner’s office, the cause of Shea’s death was a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

This is clearly a sad situation, as there is a loss of human life, and his family & friends are in mourning.  To them, I offer my sympathies.

However, as in all tragedies, there is a lesson to be learned:  Opponents of gun rights will argue that gun ownership should be banned in order to prevent suicides.  This argument is without merit.  First, research shows that restrictions on gun ownership don’t prevent suicides, just as Oak Park’s gun ban laws didn’t prevent Terry Shea from having a gun or unlawfully discharging it within village limits in order to end his life.  Secondly, countries such as Japan have a higher suicide rate than the US, despite their many restrictions on gun ownership.  The fact is that people who wish to end their own lives will do so, whether they use a gun or some other method.  Many of them seem pick a gun for the simple reason that it is easy, quick, and relatively painless.  (More information on that issue can be seen here.)  Most importantly, however, is the point that very few people actually commit suicide, and that denying the great many non-suicidal people the right to have a gun for self defense is just not reasonable.  I love life, and own guns so that if a violent criminal breaks into my home, I can shoot them so that they don’t take my life, or the life of my fiancée.

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Note: Some of Terry Shea’s family and friends left rather angry comments on the Wednesday Journal’s website, saying that the newspaper should not have reported on this suicide, out of respect for the family.  I, and apparantly many commentors on that website, disagree.  This is certainly a tragedy, but it is also a public matter that a newspaper should report upon.  This is especially true where the suicide occurs in a public place, such as a retail establishment.  If problems such as suicides are to be addressed by society, the public must be made aware of the problem.