Tom Arnold unexpectedly became the latest celebrity to join the anti-gun cause with a heartbreaking essay in The Hollywood Reporter about his nephew, who killed himself earlier this year.
Arnold, who has previously said he is a Republican, writes that he is a “gun owner and a supporter of the Second Amendment.” But the suicide of his nephew, Spencer, has made him join the Brady Campaign to Prevent Violence.
“The NRA has convinced people that a home with a gun is safer than one without a gun,” Arnold writes. “That is a lie. Not even close, and the odds are about 8-to-1 that if someone does get hurt with that gun, it's not going to be a bad guy. It's going to be the owner or a friend or family member. “
He writes that Spencer, who struggled with substance abuse and had attempted suicide, was able to buy a gun. Arnold also writes that nobody stopped Spencer from buying guns, despite joining a neo-Nazi group (Arnold himself is Jewish) and posting racist rants on Facebook.
Aside from Arnold’s conservative leanings, the article also is surprising for bringing attention to gun deaths and suicide. Half of all gun deaths are suicides, and the social scientists believe the stigma of suicide leads many to silence after a death.
Arnold himself writes that 20 percent of essays he read for a scholarship prize were by students who lost a parent or sibling to suicide.
“It's weird because I could tell a bunch of these were from near my hometown in Iowa. It's a small place and yet I wasn't aware of the suicides because, like my own family, people don't talk about it,” Arnold writes. Perhaps his essay is taking a step in the right direction.