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A man used a gun to kill himself on Saturday night at the NRA 500 — a National Rifle Association-sponsored NASCAR race that took place over the weekend at the Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The medical examiner reports the man shot himself in the head, becoming one of the 20,000 gun suicides in the United States every year out of 30,000 total gun deaths.

The NRA sponsorship drew controversy when it was announced because of what many believe to be the gun group’s insensitive and tone-deaf response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting and their continuing opposition to the majority-supported gun safety measures proposed in the aftermath of the massacre, including the compromise expanded background checks amendment put forth by two NRA “A” rated senators — Democrat Joe Manchin (WV) and Republican Pat Toomey (PA).

Besides the embarrassment of a gun-related death at an event they sponsored, the NRA suffered two big blows in their opposition to  expanding background checks. The Washington Post reported Sunday that  the second biggest gun rights group — the Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms — is splitting with the NRA by endorsing the Manchin-Toomey background checks bill. Also on Sunday, Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) announced she will be supporting the background checks compromise, following Mark Kirk (R-IL) in endorsing the measure. John McCain (R-AZ) appeared to be leaning toward supporting the measure in comments he made on CNN Sunday.

The NRA opposes universal background checks despite the fact that a majority 92 percent of Americans and 75 percent of NRA members support the reform.

Three out of every five gun deaths in America are self-inflicted. A story in The Boston Globe published these stunning statistics: The majority of gun deaths since 1920 have been suicides, more people kill themselves with guns than all other methods combined, the number of people who kill themselves with a gun is four times greater in high-gun states than low-gun states. Public health researchers found that mandatory gun locks and proper gun storage reduces suicides.

The Globe story concludes that “no matter what we may believe about the Second Amendment, the debate over how to reduce the death toll from guns is, to a great extent, a debate about suicide prevention.”

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