STATEMENT: CAP’s Korb on the Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. — Today the Center for American Progress released the following statement from Senior Fellow Lawrence J. Korb on the passage of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act:

With the passage of the FY 2013 National Defense Authorization Act, Congress has provided military commanders with a critical tool to prevent suicides and gun violence. In 2012 U.S. military personnel committed suicide at a rate of nearly one per day. Two-thirds of these deaths involved firearms.

Yet under a provision in the FY 2011 National Defense Authorization Act, military officers and health professionals were banned from even asking service members about firearms in their private possession, even in cases when the commander believes the service member to be at risk of harming him or herself.

By repealing this provision, Congress has ensured that Defense Department health professionals and commanding officers have the ability to inquire whether a service member possesses or plans to acquire a firearm if they believe the service member is at risk for suicide or causing harm to others.

This year, the Defense Department lost more men and women to suicide than to the war in Afghanistan. Congress should be commended for its efforts to ensure that commanding officers have all the tools they need to prevent self-harm, domestic violence, and mass shootings.

To speak with Lawrence J. Korb, please contact Christina DiPasquale at 202.481.8181 or