Gazette photo by Rusty Marks
The situation could have turned out worse yesterday in Charleston, following a tense standoff between a resident and local policy. As we reported in this morning’s Gazette:
Police believe a Charleston attorney shot himself near the end of a three-hour standoff with officers Monday morning outside his Cornwall Lane home.
Charleston Police Chief Brent Webster said Mark Bramble told paramedics as he was being taken to the hospital that he shot himself in the head with a handgun before officers forced their way into his home.
Bramble was undergoing surgery Monday afternoon, but was expected to live, Webster said at a news conference.
Still, the incident is another reminder of the dangers of West Virginia’s love affair with firearms — as if we needed another one after the shooting deaths late last month of four people up in Clarksburg. It’s popular for political leaders in West Virginia to talk about how we all grow up around guns, about how being taught to use them safely is part of our heritage. But then we hear about an 11-year-old boy being killed by a “stray bullet” fired by his grandmother, who thought she heard intruders outside her home.
Interestingly, West Virginia’s firearms homicide rate — 2.54 per 100,000 people in 2010 — was better than the national rate of 3.59 and ranked 30th among the states. But our state’s firearms suicide rate was 11.33 per 100,00 people, the 5th highest in the nation and nearly twice the national rate.