Humans can put a lot of pressure on themselves to perform at certain levels — both physically and mentally. And none of us ever wants to disappoint, fall behind or stand out as being different. This can make struggles and challenges with mental health very problematic. So many folks find themselves not wanting to seek out assistance due to the possible stigmas that may be attached. Sadly, many who don’t seek out the help they desperately need may instead choose to hurt themselves or others … or even end their lives.
As we well know, mental health issues don’t discriminate based on age, gender, experience or background. They can affect anyone at any time, from young mothers and veterans to entrepreneurs and business professionals. Thankfully, many organizations — even within the firearms community — have taken notice and have taken steps to remedy mental health problems and to offer assistance to those who need it.
A Helping Hand
One such organization is Hold My Guns. World Mental Health Day is coming up on October 10, so this is a perfect time to talk about this fantastic group. The mission of Hold My Guns, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is to connect responsible firearms owners with voluntary, private, offsite storage — through a national network of partnering gun shops and FFLs — during times of mental health crisis or personal need.
“After our family lost a young friend to suicide, I started looking into Pennsylvania law (and other states), and realized that an unintentional consequence of gun-control laws is that you can’t give a firearm to a friend for safe keeping,” Sarah Joy Albrecht, founder and president of Hold My Guns, explained. “I couldn’t help but think about what we could possibly do for gun owners or their families who are experiencing a mental health crisis. I asked myself, ‘What options do we have?’” Albrecht then realized that asking FFLs to store firearms for those in need was not stretching out beyond what they are already set up to do. “So, with the creation of Hold My Guns,” she stated, “we are now able to partner with local FFLs to provide private and discreet storage … while not bringing unwanted attention or consequences (or additional stress) to those who are seeking help.”
Sadly, more than 50 percent of suicides in the United States involve a firearm. Having the option to separate yourself or a loved one from guns during a mental health crisis may be a very beneficial option. But giving a firearm to a friend or a loved one may be illegal in some cases. Furthermore, the knowledge that someone had to give up his or her guns for a brief period of time may be used against him or her, especially where red-flag laws come into play. Thankfully, Hold My Guns offers a powerful and profound solution for those who may require extra help during times of need. The program is designed to encourage folks to proactively seek out help. And it is set up to provide dignity and respect for anyone who needs assistance. “We provide a pro-active, self-governance approach that saves lives and protects 2A rights,” Albrecht declared.
Making a Difference
This fairly new — and quickly growing — organization is already making a big impact and a big difference within the firearms community. “While suicide prevention is not the only reason someone may need an organization like Hold My Guns, it is likely one of the more socially pressing, and for me, impactful,” Brannon LeBouef, an upcoming partner with Hold My Guns (with NOLATAC and St. Bernard Indoor Shooting Center), stated. “As I write this, I mourn yet another lost friend due to a firearms suicide within the last 48 hours. I am a military veteran, firearms instructor-trainer, law enforcement officer, FFL business owner, firearms owner, gun-rights legislative activist and family man. In every one of those roles for which I wear a hat, there is a place for Hold My Guns to make a positive impact.”
No one should ever have to fear being labeled or displaced just for seeking mental health treatment. When it comes to restricting or revoking our right to bear arms, no one should have to fear, “Am I next?” A mental health crisis may be a cry for help. But a mental health crisis is not a crime. Gun owners and their families deserve options that help solve problems — not create them. Hold My Guns provides just such an option … an option that promotes a lifestyle of liberty and self-governance while protecting lives and preserving rights.
To learn more about Hold My Guns, how you can donate, become a storage partner or find help, check out the organization’s website.
About Beth Alcazar
Boasting several training certifications including TWAW, SIG Sauer Academy, ALICE Institute and I.C.E. Training, Beth Alcazar is enthusiastic about safe and responsible firearms ownership. She has nearly two decades in the firearms industry and is a Certified Training Instructor and Senior Training Counselor for the USCCA and Training Counselor, Chief Range Safety Officer and Certified Instructor for the NRA. The associate editor of Concealed Carry Magazine, Beth also uses her experience and degrees in language arts, education and communication management to author Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals.