Pretty straightforward question, would you buy a firearm that was used in a suicide?
Before you answer that question, I bring this up because the local media is reporting that a western Pennsylvania coroner is actually auctioning off firearms that were used in suicides an accidental gun deaths.
Coroner Ken Bacha of Westmoreland County said that state law permits him to auction off firearms and personal items of the deceased if the family fails to pick them up within a year of their deaths.
The money raised by the auction is then funneled back into county coffers. The next auction is scheduled for Nov. 8 at 10 a.m. and will take place at the Westmoreland County Road Garage on Donahoe Road in Hempfield Township.
“Now as we are a week and a half away, we’re getting more phone calls, several today. I talked to the auctioneer earlier today, and he’s getting a lot of hits to his website and a lot of calls to his office as well,” Bacha told WTAE.
“I know when my dad had the auction in the 80s, there were guns that were valued at $100 brand new that were selling for $200,” he continued. “Was it just the novelty of it, that this gun took a life? I’m not really sure.”
Bacha said the firearms up for sale are linked to any homicides, as those are typically secured in evidence facilities for trials and appeals.
“Most of these firearms that are going to be auctioned are non-homicide firearms, meaning accidental deaths, but most of them are suicides,” Bacha said.
Bacha will be auctioning off around 100 firearms.
While many seem to be okay with the auction, at least one gun-control advocate believes it is highly insensitive.
“I think it’s profoundly sad that Pennsylvania officials would use weapons that human beings used to prematurely end their lives to line their pockets,” said Ladd Everitt from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.
“I think it also speaks to the fact that the general attitude of today’s pro-gun movement regarding suicide is, ‘Let them do it,’ as manifested in the NRA’s official position on this topic,” continued Everitt who pointed out this statement from an NRA fact sheet published on Nov. 6, 1999:
Some would suggest that the rate of suicide may indeed be higher among firearm owners than non-owners. Gun owners are notably self-reliant and exhibit a willingness to take definitive action when they believe it to be in their own self-interest. Such action may include ending their own life when the time is deemed appropriate.
“You have to imagine how a loved one of one of the deceased might feel after reading such words,” Everitt concluded.
What are your thoughts? And to ask the question once again, would you buy a firearm that was used in a suicide or an accidental gun death?
For a list of the firearms set to be auctioned off, click here.