Navy sailors at risk of suicide may be asked to hand over their privately-owned guns for safekeeping

Posted at 2:32 PM, Nov 19, 2014
and last updated 2014-11-19 14:32:05-05

A new guidance from the Navy says health professionals and commanders may ask Sailors reasonably believed to be at risk of suicide to volunteer to hand their privately-owned firearms over to their commanding officers for temporary safekeeping.

NAVADMIN 263/14 is part of a broader Department of Defense strategy to prevent suicide and related tragedies in the military.

If a Sailor agrees to turn over their weapon, the weapon may be safeguarded on the installation or other storage location in coordination with local authorities and will be returned upon request unless a predetermined storage period was agreed upon.

f a Sailor objects to storage of their privately-owned firearm, commanders may ask the Sailor to voluntarily dismantle their firearm and allow the command to store critical pieces, ask the Sailor to store the firearm with a safety-lock device and provide the key to a trusted adult, or ask the Sailor to store the firearm and/or ammunition in the care of a trusted adult. In all situations where there is an immediate risk to life, commanders and health professionals must take immediate action to ensure the Sailor receives the necessary care, support and treatment to prevent harm and promote recovery.

Guns are the primary method used in military suicides in the past two years.

The new guidance will start immediately.