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Press Releases - County Council

For Immediate Release: Tuesday, December 12, 2023

From the Office of Councilmember Evan Glass

New legislation introduced by Councilmember Evan Glass will require gun retailers to distribute information about suicide prevention and firearm safety

Today the Montgomery County Council approved legislation introduced by Councilmember Evan Glass that aims to reduce the number of gun-related deaths. The law will require gun retail establishments in Montgomery County to provide information on suicide prevention, firearm safety and conflict resolution.

“In 2022, there were 95 deaths by suicide in Montgomery County, one-third of which included a firearm. Firearms are the most common means of suicide nationwide and providing individuals with information about how to access help could be the difference between life and death,” said Councilmember Evan Glass. “The intention of this bill is to reduce harm by providing potentially lifesaving information when an individual enters a gun store. This approach is one of many to prevent the tragic effects of gun violence and raise awareness about suicide prevention.”

The Suicide Awareness and Firearm Education (SAFE) Act (Bill 36-23) would require the Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services to develop literature about firearm safety, suicide prevention and conflict resolution, require gun shops to display and distribute the literature, and generally amend the law regarding education about mental health and firearms.

“Access to a gun triples one’s rate of death by suicide – nearly six in ten gun deaths in the U.S. are suicides, but we can – and must – reverse this deadly trend,” said Nick Suplina, senior vice president for Law and Policy and Everytown for Gun Safety. “Firearm suicide is a public health crisis, it must be treated like one and that begins with community education. By providing educational resources that could prevent someone in crisis from accessing the most lethal form of suicide, Montgomery County is taking a critical step to save lives.”

“Suicide and gun violence are public health crises in America, threatening our communities’ health and well-being,” said Sharon Dietsche, executive director of NAMI MC, a nonprofit organization that provides free mental health support to residents. “Most firearm deaths each year are suicides, and firearms are the most common method used for suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 10-14 and the third leading cause of death for people ages 15-24. Veterans are also at a greater risk of suicide. Interventions at the point of sale of ammunition or firearms are an evidence-based and recommended strategy to prevent suicide. The SAFE Act will serve as a partnership with firearms retailers to prevent suicide. This legislation highlights the imperative role we can all play in suicide prevention. Those who sell firearms or ammunition can be part of saving lives by helping someone get help when they need it the most.”

"The United States is facing a mental health crisis, and suicides have been increasing at an alarming rate,” said Alyssa Sanders, director of Advocacy at EveryMind, a Rockville-based mental health advocacy organization and service provider. "The uptick in firearm suicides is especially concerning, as nine out of 10 suicide attempts involving a firearm are fatal. People who survive a suicide attempt are significantly less likely to die from a future one, but they need to get that second chance. Reminding people that help is available and that they are not alone is one small step we can all take to make a big difference."

“As the elected sheriff, I am proud to support Bill 36-23, the SAFE Act,” said Montgomery County Sheriff Maxwell Uy. “The Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, the oldest law enforcement agency in Montgomery County, is the law enforcement arm of the judicial system. Members of our office often deal with court ordered Emergency Evaluation Petitions (EEPs), as well as domestic violence protective orders. In many of these highly emotional crisis situations, the presence of a firearm can lead to tragedy. As a law enforcement leader in the County, I support legal, responsible firearms ownership, recognizing that the presence of a firearm in a home substantially increases the chances that a tragedy may occur.”

“Today is a victory in our fight to make our communities safer by providing life saving information to those who may be in the middle of a crisis,” said Joanna Pearl, a volunteer with the Maryland chapter of Moms Demand Action. “We know that firearm suicide is preventable, and by empowering our communities with information, this bill could save lives and spare them and their families from unthinkable tragedy.”

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Release ID: 23-419
Media Contact: Valeria Carranza 240-777-7966, Hannah Wilcove 240-777-7946
Categories: Evan Glass