With U.S. suicides reaching record levels, some gun owners going through tough times are having their firearms held by gun shops, the Wall Street Journal reports. There were some 27,000 gun suicides in 2022. Groups in Colorado and Washington state have recruited and publicized gun dealers willing to hold on to guns. States like Louisiana and Montana have tweaked their laws over the past two years so that gun shops and individuals don’t face liability for holding other people’s guns. A nonprofit called Hold My Guns has been promoting the idea at the leading gun industry trade show. “A lot of gun owners are afraid to speak up if there’s a mental health crisis in the home,” said Sarah Joy Albrecht, who founded Hold My Guns. “Gun shops are a place that gun owners trust—they know that their rights matter to the people running the gun shop.”
Alternatives such as dropping guns at police stations or involving the authorities can result in losing those guns for good. The eight gun shops around the U.S. that work with Hold My Guns have stored 118 firearms this year, up from five last year. Gun-store owners make it a policy not to pry, a practice they say makes gun owners more comfortable. Licensed dealers are allowed to buy, sell, trade or repair firearms. There is no provision for storing guns for a person in crisis, so gun shops generally treat it like a transaction in which the individual is putting firearms on consignment. Dealers charge a nominal fee for storage. When the person is ready to pick up their firearms, they must undergo a background check as if they were making a purchase.
In contrast to red-flag laws, which allow authorities to seize guns from people threatening harm to themselves or others, gun storage is voluntary.