LAKEWOOD, Colo. — Bristlecone Shooting, Training, and Retail Center has products to sell, but co-owner Jacquelyn Clark believes safety is a top priority too.
"So we do offer a temporary storage service here for the community, and there are other partners out there that do the same," she said.
The service, which gives people a way to store their guns outside of their homes, doesn't make Bristlecone money, but Clark said it could save a life.
"The catalyst was really having a greater understanding, after being in the industry for a number of years, of what an issue mental illness can be when you couple it with firearms," Clark said. "And anything we can do to provide a way for people to put time and space between somebody who may be in a state of mental crisis and a very lethal means is something we're all about."
Clark said there are also other reasons people might need temporary out-of-home storage. For example, maybe someone's grandkids are visiting, and they don't feel comfortable with them around their current gun storage options. Or someone moved and was worried about storing their gun in their temporary housing.
Preventing any kind of gun violence is the goal of researchers at the Injury Violence and Prevention Center at CU Anschutz.
"We know it can make a big difference," said Sara Brandspigel, MPH, the center's Director of Outreach. "Firearms are used in half of all suicides, and we lose an average of 130 Americans a day to suicide, so it's really important that we look at a range of different prevention strategies, and one of those is reducing access to firearms during those periods of high risk."
The CU Anschutz researchers said it's important to make the distinction between this voluntary storage option and red flag laws, which are a legally-mandated form of storage.
Brandspigel and her team first put together a map in 2019 of all the spots in Colorado that offer options for temporary voluntary firearm storage.
Their latest study found that most gun retailers and law enforcement agencies support having an out-of-home storage option, but many have liability and staffing concerns about doing it themselves.
"I do think we need clarification of current law and regulations if we really want to scale up the options in communities for out-of-home firearm storage," Brandspigel said. "So I do hope that policymakers will look at some of these concerns and think about ways to support larger-scale uptake."
"One hundred percent still concerned," Clark said about liability. "There really isn't a road map for a mom and pop shop like this to provide this service to the community."
Bristlecone does require firearm owners to agree to a background check when they come to pick their gun back up.
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