Gun violence victim asks Louisiana to take away her 2nd Amendment rights
“She Googled ‘gun stores New Orleans’ on her iPhone. Drove to a gun store. Bought a gun. Drove to the park and shot herself.” Her daughter, Katrina Brees recounts. “She had never even touched a gun before.” Her mother, Donna Nathan, had recently completed various in and out patient programs for bipolar related issues. Unlike other states, Louisiana does not offer physicians or families the ability to prevent someone from buying a gun, even when they have sought help for suicidal tendencies.
In the days after her mother's suicide, Katrina learned that this type of story was pretty common. She channeled her pain into purpose and came up with an answer: a voluntary registry that would allow people to sign away their right to purchase a firearm. “I know my mom would have signed up to protect herself and our family.” Katrina posted her idea on Facebook, prompting 100s of people to write her in support. Other families whose loved ones had done the same encouraged her. Messages flooded in from people wanting to sign the self registry to protect themselves. “I want to be the first to sign up” she says of the proposed self registry. “This is how my people die.” Her mother's death marks the 6th suicide in Katrina's family. In a state like Louisiana, Katrina can buy a firearm with no license or training in about an hour. She can also inherit her mother's gun. With ⅔ of gun deaths being suicide, gun sale prevention is suicide self defense.
Katrina quickly connected with Professor Fredrick Vars at the University of Alabama Law School who had originally conceived of a no gun self registry bill and had conducted extensive studies and authored other model state bills. Now Vars is working with Katrina to introduce self registry gun sale bills in Louisiana and Texas. “People who fear suicide ought to be empowered to protect themselves” Vars says. “This bill would allow individuals to confidentially put their own names into the federal background check system to prevent gun purchase during a suicidal crisis with an option to change one’s mind and have one’s name removed after a delay period.” Many states are beginning to examine the self registry to protect their most vulnerable citizens and address rising suicide rates. Washington state will be the first to allow citizens to self register.
For more information:
Katrina Brees at 504-905-2830 or
Prof. Fredrick Vars at 773-331-6605 or
Katrina’s story recently made the cover of the Sunday Times Picayune.