The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

March 23, 2013

U.S. gun deaths shaped by race

(Continued)

Her father's handgun had been in an unlocked drawer; the bullets were elsewhere in the bedroom. Massolo said her daughter would not have had time to get the gun, find the bullets, load the gun and kill herself in the time she was next door. Massolo concluded that Shannon had planned her suicide.

Shannon knew how to handle the gun. Her parents had taught her and her sisters to fire weapons. They had gone to shooting ranges. "The mind-set out here is that we use guns for hunting, for target shooting, to keep the family safe," Massolo said. "If you want to keep the family safe and you have mental illness in the family, then lock your guns up for a while or give them away for a while. We're not saying give them away forever. We don't want to take the gun away."

The gun Shannon used to kill herself had been in the family for years. It was a gift to her father from his father-in-law, a former Reno police officer. Shannon had used it for target practice many times.

"That's something we've dealt with," Massolo said in a recent interview. "We taught her how to kill herself. But we were trying to teach her how to be safe. It's a different mind-set out here about guns. I know the East Coast doesn't think that way."

Massolo said the weapon had sentimental value to her husband, so after the suicide inquiry, he got it back from the police. His wife won't look at it, but her husband won't part with it.

"The gun did not kill Shannon," she said. "Shannon killed Shannon. I tell him it was not his fault. It could have been any method. She killed herself. That was my way of relieving some of his guilt."

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