Gun sellers urged to aid in suicide ID


ST. LOUIS — Grassroots organizations are working across Missouri to persuade gun-related business owners to join efforts to limit access to guns or encourage safe storage for potentially suicidal customers.

One of the initiatives, Safer Homes Collaborative, sends part-time field coordinators to hundreds of gun shops, pawn shops and firearms training facilities across the state. The coordinators, who are gun owners themselves, ask the retailers to display educational materials and provide temporary storage of firearms. The retailers also are asked to complete a one-hour training to identify potentially suicidal customers and delay the sale of a gun or encourage safe storage.

With gun safety a hot button political issue across the country, coordinators say some people are suspicious of their work, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.

“The perception is that this is gun control,” said Katie Ellison, the collaborative’s director. “Another challenge falls under the fear and stigma categories. They say, ‘I’m here to sell a firearm, I’m not a mental health professional. This is not my expertise.’”

Missouri has the 13th highest suicide rate in the nation and suicides have increased by 53.5% in the last decade, according to state data released last month.

Print Headline: Gun sellers urged to aid in suicide ID

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