Hold My Guns Suicide Prevention

Drive On Podcast
Drive On Podcast
Hold My Guns Suicide Prevention

In this episode, Sarah Albrecht talks about her nonprofit, Hold My Guns, which hopes to help gun owners store their firearms safely in a time of need.

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Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:00    Thanks for tuning into a Drive On Podcast where we're focused on giving hope and strength to the entire military community, whether you're a veteran, active duty, guard, reserve, or family member, this podcast will share inspirational stories and resources that are useful to you. I'm your host, Scott DeLuzio. And now let's get on with the show.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:00:22    Hey everybody, before we get into this interview today, I want to put out a little disclaimer. I work very hard to keep politics out of this podcast and this podcast exists to help veterans and their families, regardless of which side of the aisle you find yourself on. And I don't want someone to get turned off because they're on the opposite side of an issue that the guests might be talking about. I just try not to get into political topics. Now with that said, we're going to be talking about guns today. And I know that's a very political topic, but it's not my intention to polarize anyone on either side with this episode. It's not a pro gun episode. It's not pro gun rights or pro gun control or anything like that. It's not anything like that.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:01:05    In this episode, we’re just talking about the reality of the fact that there are people with guns, and who have access to guns in this country, regardless of what you might think about it. So I think if you listen all the way through, you'll find that what my guest has to say today is going to be beneficial no matter what side of the position you're on with the gun control argument and things like that. So, with that said and  out of the way, today my guest is Sarah Joy Albrecht. Sarah is co-founder and executive director of a nonprofit called Hold My Guns. Their mission is to connect responsible firearm owners with voluntary private offsite storage options during times of, mental health crisis or other personal needs. So welcome to the show. Why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?   

Sara Albrecht:    00:01:54    Thank you, Scott. My name is Sarah Joy Albrecht, and I founded Hold My Guns because I'm a range safety officer. It means I work at a gun range and the firing line and I help keep people safe. And when we lost a young member of our community to suicide by firearm, my kids and their friends came to me and said, Mom, Mrs. Albrecht, we really need to do something. Our friend has died. She had access to a firearm and we do care about rights, but on the other hand, what do you do in a situation where someone who's not doing well has access to a firearm? And so I started to look into it and I realized that here in the state of Pennsylvania, it's illegal to give a firearm to a friend for safekeeping, unless they have a license to carry a firearm.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:02:44    And that pertains to pistols, but not necessarily rifles. And I realized that that could be a barrier because not everyone has a friend who has a license to carry. And even if they do, it doesn't mean that that friend has safe storage in their home. You know, we wouldn't want someone to be doing a favor and then having like a two year old have access to the firearm. And then even then if someone had a friend that had a licensed security and they had a storage safe at home, it doesn't mean that it's someone that can be trusted not to gossip. And so it was really important to find a storage option that was offsite, that protected property, but also was respectful of people's rights. And it was a supportive option for gun owners. And so our hope is that by partnering with gun shops to offer this storage service, that folks can come in, no questions asked.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:03:36    We know that whatever reason why they're storing a firearm, whether they're going on vacation or deployment, or because there's a crisis going on in their home, that whatever reason that gun owner chooses to store their firearm is probably a good one. And so by doing that, it's also a plus because a gun shop has the right equipment to store a firearm in a way that protects it and preserves it. You know, you have to be careful like having climate controlled storage and stuff like that. So, it's a way that can really help to protect property, and keep it pristine, but also to help people out in a very real and tangible way. So, I'm excited. We started it at the end of 2018. It took a little while to get going, because as you might imagine, there's a lot of legal things that have to be looked into. And it's, like you mentioned at the beginning of the show, it's such a delicate topic, but we really understand that the right to bear arms is one that's diversely exercised, and we really want it to be an option for people from all walks of life.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:04:43    Yeah, that's great. And one of the reasons why I wanted you to be on the show is because, on this podcast, I like to interview guests who provide different services, things that are not your traditional services that you might think of when you're talking about veterans and the types of things that they may may encounter, and things that may be not be quite as well known. And we all know about the VA and some of the services that they offer but I've also known people who said that they didn't want to go to the VA and get involved with them because they didn't feel comfortable with talking about the issues that they're having. And they're afraid that maybe their guns would get taken away because of one thing or another that was going on in their lives.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:05:27    And so talking about services like yours, the things that you guys are doing is a great opportunity to expose veterans who might need this type of service, but just may not know that it either exists or where to find it or anything like that. So, I'm really excited to talk to you a little bit about this and find out more about how this can be expanded upon and get it out there in front of a whole lot more people. Because really, I think it's a service that's worth looking into.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:06:00    Absolutely. And it's also my heart to just really be supportive of veterans. My dad is a veteran. He served in Vietnam in the Marines. And as I started this endeavor, I called him up and I said, “Hey, dad, what do you think about this?” And he just expressed concern that many times. It's not, perhaps even if they're well-intentioned efforts that sometimes veterans and mental health can get exploited. And so he said that having a service that helps veterans to have a sense of self-determination and agency over how they want to handle their problems in their home in a way that makes sense for their unique family situation, really just treats them with dignity and respect. And so I really took that to heart. And I started working with a group, a Northwestern Pennsylvania suicide prevention group through the VA here in Pennsylvania.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:06:56    And we're working to bring partner gun shops to some rural counties in Pennsylvania, where they have higher rates of suicide by firearm. And so I'm really excited about that. I also spoke at the department of defense and department of veterans affairs suicide prevention conference earlier this year. I've also have been tapped as a subject matter expert for the governor's embarrass challenge to prevent suicide amongst veteran service members and their families. So I'm excited that not only are we working hard as a nonprofit, but we're working with the VA here in Pennsylvania, and then even at a national level. And what I've seen is that it's changed the conversation about firearms in a way that really destigmatized it. And without having to go in too deep, just say “Hey, we're going to be starting out, treatment.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:07:53    And if you have a firearm in the home, we want to let you know that there is a local gun shop, not affiliated with us at all, who can store firearms for you. And if you happen to have a firearm, if this pertains to you, we're just letting you know that the service exists.” And what that does is it really empowers that individual to say, Hey, I can be proud of myself. I know that I need to get help. I took care of what I needed to take care of. And so I'm going to start out this treatment, knowing that I have a say in how things go and whenever you have a mental health treatment, whether it's with a veteran or with anybody, really, if they have a sense of agency in their treatment plan, the efficacy of that treatment plan is just so much better.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:08:36    If you start out a treatment to say, “Hey oh, you called us for help. What we're going to confiscate firearms, and you have to do all these things.” Then they start out that treatment feeling like, “wow, I just had a right that I thought was unalienable taken away from me just because I asked for help,” but we have to understand that a lot of mental health and medical professionals are not gun owners. And so they don't realize the identity that comes along with having a firearm. And so through some educational conversations, we've been able to just let them know like, “Hey, this is why it's such a big deal. And here's a way to approach this in a way that is respectful. And you don't have to lose your rights. If a person can go through treatment successfully, then that's a win for everybody.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:09:21    When you get to that point where you have an involuntary commitment, for example, or a confiscation of firearms, what that does is that if in the future, if you ever want to purchase a firearm, you're not going to pass the 44 73 form that asks those questions. Have you ever been involuntarily committed, for example? Not all mental health professionals understand how well-intentioned actions can actually take away rights, which then in turn creates a fear and people don't get help. So our hope is that we can really create a service that empowers people to take care of their private matters before they become public ones, so that they have better outcomes and treatment. And they have a better say in how they want things to unfold.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:10:06    Yeah. And that's great. Going back to what you were saying in the beginning, how the mental health provider might say “Hey, look, there is a service that's available. It's not affiliated with us, but there's a service that's available.” I feel like that sort of just deescalates the whole stigma that might be around that in the feeling that the gun owner in this case who might feel like, “oh, gosh, I'm going to end up committed or I'm going to lose my rights or whatever the case may be, whatever they're feeling or thinking at that time. It empowers them to go ahead and take care of this on their own, rather than just sitting there waiting for someone to come knock on their door so that they might feel like that kind of thing might happen.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:10:56    And that's not the type of thing that you want to have happen, especially when you're starting off this new relationship with a mental health counselor or something like that. So, it's really great that that type of thing is available. It's not just people or veterans with PTSD or other mental health issues. You know, it's really for anybody who might have something going on in their families. They could have a spouse who might be going through depression or PTSD or a child who might be having some mental health issues or things like that. And I know quite a few gun owners and all of them want the guns that they have for protective purposes and defensive purposes.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:11:48    And they want to be able to protect their family. And if their loved ones are a threat to themselves, it just makes sense that removing the guns from the house for a temporary period of time, we're not talking forever, selling them and never seeing them again. And I think that's the thing that your services offer is a safe place to store them temporarily, whether it's a month, whether it's a year, whatever the time period is, to get them out of harm's way. And then reintroduce them later on down the road.

Sara Albrecht:    00:12:21    Scott a really excellent point. And it's not always the gun owner who's in crisis in the whole world. And prior to founding Hold My Guns, I was a doula and childbirth educator for 11 years. And I, for whatever reason just became that person that people trusted and went to when they had experienced sexual trauma in their past. And unfortunately, when that happens, those abuse survivors sometimes are more prone to having postpartum depression. And I had a client who was a gun owner, she and her husband owned firearms. And she called me one day and she said, Sarah, I have the gun safe, open, and I'm looking at my gun and I really don't want to be alive right now. And I said, I will be right over. I grabbed one of my older kids and I got a freezer meal out of my freezer, drove over.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:13:13    I helped her unload her firearms. I separated out the ammunition from the firearms, and I said, go take a shower? I know it's been a really hard day. She had just had a baby and she had a bunch of little toddlers still, like she had a young family. I said, you go take a shower. I'm going to put this in the oven, just put your feet up. And she hadn't slept in a couple of days really well. The baby was a little bit colicky. And what I really want for people to understand is just humbly speaking, any of us can find ourselves in a situation like where things are just rough for a couple of days, and we don't have a break. And we really want to just encourage folks that we don't have to look at it like, oh, that person's crazy.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:13:55    We got to take their firearms. It's like, let's just admit that all of us can have a really bad day. And that if you choose to use a firearm, chances are you're not going to survive. So it's really important to come up with a plan, just like how it shaped, then how I educated my students. And we would often talk about postpartum depression. But after that experience, I said, “Hey, if you have firearms in the home, have a plan in case your spouse or even the husband is in that situation, many dads are just wonderful with helping a baby through the night. But then that means they're really tired the next morning when they're trying to go to work and it just kind of snowballs. So just being understanding to say any of us can be in a situation where things can just go sideways for a while and our brains are fragile.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:14:46    They can play tricks on us. So let's just make a plan ahead of time. What do we do in a situation where we're facing an unexpected complication in life, what's our plan for firearms. And so that is my message. You know, when I talk to people and as you said, it becomes a topic that people can get really prickly about. And understandably so, but my ask is just that they think about what your options are. And if that option is a friend and they're lawfully able to store your firearm and you trust them, please do that. You know, if the option is to disassemble your firearm and give the barrel of your firearm to a friend, because they don't have a license to carry, and you want to keep everything above board in your state, do that. If you have a local gun shop that stores firearms for you, and that option helps you out, then do that. So I just want people to think ahead and not think, “oh, this is never going to happen to me.” It's better just like when you think through a life insurance policy to have something in place so that if you need it, you're not trying to think while you're in the middle of a crisis.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:15:49    Right? Yeah. And it's like preparing for anything, what happens when X, Y, or Z happens, you want to have a game plan for that. You know, if some other emergency happens, you have a list of emergency contacts that you can call and you can get help. So this is just another one of those steps to prepare yourself for the things that you may not think are going to happen, but they do happen to people and you may become one of those people. And at some point down the road, it's just good to have a plan in place so that you know what to do. Now, the audience of this podcast is typically in the military and veteran community. And in that community, there are just a lot of gun owners, but there are also a lot of people dealing with mental health, health issues, and others also have to travel for extended periods of time.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:16:42    You mentioned earlier, like deployments and things like that, but it could be a deployment, or it could be stationed overseas, temporarily for a deployment or being stationed in Japan or Korea, Germany places like that and some of those countries, they don't allow you to have guns with you. And so you get stationed over there. You can't bring them with you. And so a gun owner who might live in the United States and own lots of guns legally, or even just one, but it could be any number of guns. they may not necessarily want to sell all of their guns just because they're going overseas for a year or two years or something like that. Sometimes that Venn diagram of gun owners and mental health and deployments, and being stationed overseas, all that kind of fits together where those things kind of overlap  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:17:34    and someone who owns guns, or has been in their house has a mental health issue, or might be going overseas and they have nowhere to store them. I think that's another way that I see Hold My Guns comes into play where they are very useful to be able to store things for those people who might be traveling, even if it's a vacation for a week or something like that, or extended, like a deployment for a year or more. Those are other situations I could see being extremely helpful.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:18:09    We actually lived in Japan for two years. It's funny that you said that. I have my <inaudible> mug here, from when we lived in Aomori prefecture and we were there because my husband works as a defense contractor and he was working on a radar base there. So that was a situation where we had to find an option for storing our firearms. So we didn't lose out on our investment but we had peace of mind knowing that people who were unauthorized, they shouldn't have access to our firearms. They weren't, and it really just gave us a peace of mind to know in our situation that someone who was lawfully allowed to do that was taking care of our firearms. So that's something that also inspired me to just see that bigger picture.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:18:57    And I think that there are some groups out there that are working with gun shops and I applaud their efforts. What's very important about Hold My Guns is that it is not just simply for a mental health concern that we really offer the service for anybody who needs it, knowing that for whatever reason they need it, it is giving them peace of mind and it's helping their situation. So the other cool thing that we do is, as we work with gun shops, we have an opportunity to really help connect members of the gun community. And what we're hoping to do is through working with, like sponsorships from gun manufacturers and other folks in the industry, not even within the firearms industry, but other industries as well to sponsor events for gun shops that help address risk factors, for example, without overtly being about suicide prevention and also sponsoring volunteer opportunities.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:19:54    And so what that does is if you, for example, have a signup sheet at a gun shop to let's say, stock the local food bank, what you're doing is you're helping customers to find a sense of value and purpose. They're doing something that is benefiting their community. It's helping the gun shop to shine. It's helping the community to shine and the sponsors to shine. And without really talking about mental health, you're fostering shoulder to shoulder relationships and good communication within your own community. And one of the highest demographic risk for suicide are men in their mid forties to mid seventies, depending on which study you look at and that's men who might be going into a time of retirement. They're not working every day, maybe they're home and they're tired of that. Honeydew is getting longer and they just want to go to the gun shop and they're hanging out, but, oh, my goodness, ammo is really expensive.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:20:49    So how cool is it? You know, just to say, Hey, I'm going to go with my friends and we're going to go clean up a park, and we're going to get some free range time at the end of this, as a thank you from our gun shop. So, that's a really cool component. We also want to work with events that are fitness oriented, such as go rack or the tactical games. And so what you're also doing by that is you're encouraging the gun shop customers and their community to be helping with their physical fitness, which also benefits mental health. And it creates a challenge that they can really have a sense of teamwork. And the other thing is a moment ago, I mentioned bringing in educational opportunities and what inspired me to do that is, after my dad got back from Vietnam, he really never had educational opportunities.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:21:41    He was hired right away by a defense contractor and when Y2K hit, he lost his job. He never really had that training that allowed him to continue through management. And so I went through this system of being on welfare and being at these like public service type events where they really make people feel awful for needing assistance. And what I learned from that is that there is a way to help people and address some of their personal risk factors in a way that really is uplifting and encouraging. And in talking to my dad, I said what would you think if, for example, and I'm gonna use the example of my friend, Tim Kelly, who runs Apache Solutions. He was wounded in combat and he created a curriculum that helps people who have been wounded as they're in the recovery process, to have a sense of dignity and self worth and not just see a new normal, but to look for new opportunities to really thrive.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:22:40    And I said to my dad, what if someone like Tim Kelly gave a talk at your favorite gun shop, is that something that you'd be interested in hearing? He's like, yes, I would love to go and hear a veteran talk to me about resilience or talk to me about how to get your finances in order, having opportunities brought to the gun shop, where there's no stigma and you're addressing some of those risks for why a person might be feeling suicidal in the first place. You know, not being able to provide for the family, trying to overcome an injury, going through a messy divorce. Like there's just so many things that are unspoken that people carry with them. And to have that sense of community and support bringing those to the gun shop classrooms, it's an opportunity; normally we're teaching basic pistol or gunshot wound care or something like that, but those classrooms can be used for other things too. And it really brings information to a community that needs to hear it, but in a way that is respectful and really meets the audience where they're at.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:23:42    That's another great opportunity there because you're absolutely right. Especially like what you were talking about earlier, men in their mid forties to maybe seventies or so going through that transition maybe of retirement or whatever. And especially getting out of the military, a lot of times people that are getting out of the military right around that mid forties age range, it is a transition, it's a loss of that sense of purpose, sense of belonging. And if you have no place to replace that where you can go hang out with other, maybe like-minded people and learn about some of these things like you're talking about in these classroom type environments, it's a very lonely and isolating situation that you find yourself in, and that doesn't lead to good things usually, you know?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:24:38    Right. And again, it's just that humble understanding that anybody can find themselves in the situation, especially in the past year with COVID like when you think about all the activities that our family used to do, and then some of them have fizzled out and never came back, that's really hard. So just understanding that transitions in life are real, not everybody has a friend group. And especially if you've retired from the military or maybe you've moved to a new location, which is something that happens a lot with military families, it's like, how do I find a group of people who are like-minded so I can have fun. And we can talk about things that matter in a way that isn't going to tip off a supervisor somewhere that I asked questions about finances or whatever it's a really, palatable way that respects people's privacy that helps them to get the help they need.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:25:33    Yeah. And another guest that I had on the podcast a while back was talking about how after getting out of the military, he would think back or go back to the friends that he had in maybe high school or college or whatever. And they just didn't relate with each other anymore. Like they were great friends way back then, but then after his military service, they just didn't relate anymore. So even if you go back to your hometown, and there's a whole bunch of people that you just might find yourself in that situation where you're just not relating with those people. And so, like you were saying, you may not have that support group of those friends or other people that you were counting on having. But then you just don't relate with those people and you drift apart, right.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:26:18    And then three new service opportunities or new education opportunities, even if you normally hang out with someone that you met at the gun range or whatever, now you have something in common and you can say, “Hey we stopped at a food bank last week. Let's go two weeks from now to clean up a park or help to build a wheelchair ramp for one of our elderly neighbors. And so you're creating something new, and giving something to look forward to that really has a sense of value to it. It's not just, let's go to a movie and feel like we're wasting time, but actually be able to use skills and make a difference in people's lives. And of course, what that does too, is it really helps to address some of those underlying feelings that you were talking about, of loneliness and not relating to people. So it really, again gives the individual an opportunity to make new friends and to do it in a way that they're rewarding relationships.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:27:19    Yeah. And I know around here, so I'm in Arizona, we have a lot of outdoor public shooting areas. And, they're really just like out in the desert with a hill for a backstop kind of thing. And it's not that there is anything formal or official about it. It's just, you're literally going out to the desert and shooting and those places get trashed with people just leaving garbage and not picking up their brass and things like that. And it's just strewn all over the place and a great opportunity for people who are looking for some of these things, these community building type things, especially some of these gun shops that might be around here, is to host a cleanup day where you go out to one of these areas out in the desert and go pick up some of the junk that's been left behind; people bring a pickup truck or whatever and some trash bags or whatever, and fill up those things.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:11    And that's kind of a bonding experience too, where you get to know some of these people that you might be out there working with and it also helps the gun community. It helps the environment. It helps a lot of things. And so there's a lot to feel good about after you're done working, maybe not if you're doing it right now, because it's about 115 degrees out here, so you probably wouldn't feel too great about it. But you know, maybe sometime in October or November, when it's a little bit cooler you'd feel pretty good about it. I think. 

Sara Albrecht:  That’s a good idea.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:28:43    Yeah, absolutely. There's some people who I mentioned earlier who might be a little apprehensive about turning their guns over to somebody else, they might just not be comfortable with that. You know, even if it is a licensed dealer and they've gone through this whole program and they have all the legal stuff out of the way, what would you say to some of these people that might be able to ease some of their concerns and build a little trust in this kind of system that's been set up?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:29:11    Well, first of all, I totally understand and respect why some people might feel that way. Depending on the firearms dealer, if they're equipped for it, you can always have non serialized, critical part such as a barrel or a firing pin stored. We use a consignment return process for firearms, but if you're storing a part that is not a firearm but it is a critical component to a firearm, then you would not have to go through a background check. So, for someone who just for whatever reason, doesn't even mean that something's in their backgrounds, if they would want to store a non serialized critical part, they're welcome to do that. And again, just kind of going back to what I was saying earlier, this is an option and not everyone, some people have other options, but many people don't.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:30:03    And so what we want to make sure is that no one falls through the cracks. And so providing this option for people who need it. I would encourage people to just recognize that not everybody is blessed to have friends or family members who can help in this way. The real important thing is to make sure that you have a plan that works with your values and your unique situation and that is the greater message there. So for someone that you know, is seeing that things are starting to go sideways in their own home, I would just encourage them to exercise the options that they have. If it's working with the Hold My Guns partner, what that would mean is they would make an appointment, they would call and they would say, “Hey, can you hold my guns?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:30:48    Let's schedule a time. They would let them know what kind of firearms they need storage for. So they can clear out some space in the safe and then what they do is they fill out a storage contract. It's a business type contract. It says this make, model and serial number and whenever a firearms dealer is holding a firearm, they do have to make a note of it and their acquisition and disposition log book. But it is not something that anyone can just go in and look at. It is a protected book. There's a limited list of folks who can look at that. And we know that it is protected in the sense that you have to have a warrant to just read it. You can't just go in, if you're not a gun shop employee, if it's not an ATF spot check type situation.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:31:37    But there is a specific set of rules that go with who has access to that book. I know that talking about that, it might make some people cringe and I totally understand that. And I want to reiterate that our service is not for people who are prohibited, that's outside of the scope of the service. So for individuals who want to use the service, who might be in a situation where they have become prohibited, I encourage you to talk to your attorney and work out with a local gun shop and their attorney, “Hey, I need to do this to follow a court order.” And I encourage you to do that because if you take a proactive approach, chances are you'll get to keep your firearms. And it will show like, “Hey, they've done their due diligence. You know, this court order has expired.”  

Sara Albrecht:    00:32:25    Now they can safely pick up their firearms and everything's above board. So our services are not for individuals who are prohibited, but if they start to see things going sideways, and they're like, you know what, I'm not going to let it hit that tipping point. I'm going to take my firearms and voluntarily store them. I'm going to work with my friends and family. And we're going to decide when's a good time to bring a firearm back into the home and that's on our team. It's not involving other people. By our team, I don't mean all my guns. I mean the individual and their friends and family, whoever's their support people, that they can have a conversation and they can determine when it's best for that individual to say “Hey, I think it's okay. I talked to my wife, I talked to my best friend and yup I've I've gotten help for these things. I'm doing a lot better. I'm no longer struggling with this or that, so I'm going to pick up my firearms. So I don't know if that quite answered your question, it is multifaceted.?

Scott DeLuzio:    00:33:28    Yeah. There is a lot to it and there's a lot of different aspects that go into it and not every situation is going to be the same either. There's going to be a lot of different things going on in everybody's lives. And everyone's situation is going to be a little bit different, but, I just think about it in a way that makes it accessible to people in that they're not going to be afraid to go in and bring their guns to a place like this. One other question I had, kind of along those lines, is so let's say someone brings in their guns to a gun dealer and the gun dealer is in the business of selling guns. Is there any danger that their guns would end up getting sold, to the customer of the gun store, in this situation, how is that contract layed out? How does that protect the guns and keep them from being sold off like that?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:34:27    You know, I'm sure that's everybody's big fear because mistakes do happen, right? So I couldn’t not tell you in good faith that that will absolutely never happen, but here's some things that would help prevent that from happening. First of all, when the owner of the firearm brings in their firearm that make, model, and serial number recorded so that when the gunshop is having possession, but not ownership of the firearm, it's logged in their log book. And so whenever a transfer firearm happens, they have to verify the make, model and serial number. So if another customer came in and they were like, “oh yeah, I want to purchase that firearm, which by the way they shouldn't be out in the case, they should be in storage. There is that check that happens on the firearm itself.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:35:14    So, this is in the book and this is a storage client’s. We have the contract right here, so there's that, and of course, description of the firearm and that kind of thing. The contract has wording in it that if the customer chooses to sell their firearm, then they could do that. But there are steps in place. So let's say a person, they have taken the firearm out of the home. They voluntarily stored it for a while. And then they just say something like, you know what, I really don't think this is working for us to have a gun in the home anymore. I'm finding that I have, for whatever reason, our family situation is still a bit hairy. And I would just rather sell the firearm because it's recorded in the same way as a consignment  

Sara Albrecht:    00:36:01    and the consignment return process, then they can call it the gunshop and they can say, I would like to sell the firearm and they should know upfront what's the value of my firearm, but at least in that case, they're recouping their investment costs. And they're not just, if they were to turn it into a police station or something, or even a buyback event, like great, here's your a hundred dollars gift card, but that firearm cost $3,000 or whatever, you know? It's not fair. So anyway, there are options for folks to sell the firearm to the dealer if they make a choice not to bring the fire back in the home, but because you have that contract in place, with a low monthly payment as well, which is, I know you didn't ask.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:36:46    Let me tell you anyway, the benefit of having a low monthly payment is that it doesn't discriminate against people. This person has a mental health issue. This person's going on vacation. If everyone is just paying a low storage fee, like $10 to $20 a month for a firearm, or maybe they might have like the first one's this much, and then subsequent stored guns have a discount cost, we leave that up to the gun shops for their market value and what they can offer. But by doing that, you really treat everyone the same to say for whatever reason we're going to store this firearm for you, gun shops can create scholarship funds. If they want to, it might look like a Roundup transaction at the cash register, and they might say something like “Hey, customer, would you like to contribute to our whole guns scholarship fund?”  

Sara Albrecht:    00:37:36    Folks can bring in their firearms for storage. If they can't afford to pay a monthly storage fee, then we can scholarship them. And then each month those clients can contact the store and say, yes, I do need a scholarship for this month. And the money would be there, but it allows the Gunshop to know the customer's intention. And it keeps something from happening, in a bad way where a gun shop customer might ghost the gun shop and leave them with a big pile of firearms, but never come back and never make payment on it. So even in a scholarship situation, there's still communication between the gunshop and the customer. So they know what that intent is. And that's part of the contract as well, that if a scholarship is needed, then they can discuss those terms. But so there are texts, emails.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:38:26    Yeah, and that's good. It's good to know that there's checks and balances in place and that there are some safeguards there. So, if you do bring your guns to one of these gun stores and bring them in for storage, it's not like you're just never going to see them again. Unless you choose that, that's what you want. It's most likely going to be a situation where they're going to be there when you're ready for them, and you can just go pick them up. Now flip that around, let's talk about the benefits to the gun shop owners, but the local shop. You talked a little bit about some of the classrooms and bringing people in and kind of a little bit on the community benefits, but are there other reasons that gun shop owners would want to take on this type of thing and how is that a benefit for them? And what have you seen in some of the shops that you've worked with that has benefited them?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:39:27    Gun shops are in business to sell firearms, but also to keep their customers happy, which is another reason why it's not in the best interest of a gun shop to sell a firearm that wasn't intended for sale, right? Because they would have a very upset customer. I forgot to mention in the previous question or previous answer, that we also require gun shops to carry general liability insurance. So if there's damage to the firearm or something that happens like that, there's insurance for that purpose, which is a good business practice to have. So we vet our storage partners, which again, is just that checks and balances that we want to build trust with the gunshot customers. It really helps gun shops to shine, to say, we absolutely care about our customers so much so that if they ever need storage, that we provide this; we're sensitive to the needs of our community.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:40:22    We're doing volunteer work in our communities and Hold My Guns provides a pathway for them to do that with some funding. So a lot of times, when there is unfortunately an incident that you see in the news it really can demonize gun shops and gun owners to make it feel that people are all out to get people and be mad at them. And that kind of a thing. And this really is a way, whether it's offering storage or working in communities or providing educational opportunities, it's a way to say we care and that's a really unfortunate situation, but it does not really characterize the majority of gun owners. Most gun owners are very responsible people and they own firearms to protect the people that they love and it's their right to do that.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:41:18    So anyway, it is for foot traffic opportunities for recognition opportunities to save their customer's lives, if needed. And, it's something that they can truly be proud of. The other cool thing is, that we're working to provide suicide prevention training. We're doing that even on Monday night here in Pennsylvania coming up on the 26th and through that suicide prevention training through the QPR Institute, it actually comes with a certificate. And so our goal is to help firearm professionals like guns and firearms instructors, and range safety officers to have those credentials that they can actually share. You know, when I look at someone to teach me a new skill with firearms, I look at all of their credentials. And so seeing that on there that they've had suicide prevention training. It means that they are aware and that they're there to help people if they need it.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:42:16    And they can be someone that maybe a client is looking at their page and they say, “Hey, you have suicide prevention training. Can you tell me about some local resources, because maybe my friend needs to have some resources or something like that.” That was inspired because two of our board members who are firearms instructors had situations where there was an individual who had intended to take their own life on the range. And in both cases, thankfully they recognized some signs. They recognized something was off. In one case, one individual stopped the lesson. In another case, there was a phone call that happened where the client admitted what they had intended to do. And so had it not been for their wherewithal, it does happen that people will take their own life on the range. So by providing education to firearms instructors and giving them that, that actual credentialed certificate, that they can proudly display, it also creates awareness in the firearms community, to be aware, to be situationally aware, we teach that and while you're at the mall or the grocery store, so you also want to be situationally aware in the range, and you want to be prepared to help those around you if they're experiencing suicidal ideation.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:43:33    I think that's great, and it's a great benefit to the community. It's a great benefit to the gun shops too, to be able to offer this type of thing. I would think anyways, it would set them apart from other competitors in their market. And so I think, it's a win-win all around to have this type of service available in the community. So that's absolutely great. Well, it has been an absolute pleasure speaking with you today about Hold My Guns and all the things that you guys are doing to help the gun owners across this country to store their guns safely, especially in times of need or mental health crisis, traveling deployments, things like that. Where can people go to get in touch with you and find out more about Hold My Guns?  

Sara Albrecht:    00:44:21    Well, my guns that work, we are really excited about the website. We just did a relaunch over Independence Day weekend. I'm really proud of it. It just has a sleek new look. There is some great encouragement from folks in the gun community and ways to get involved. So check us out there. And then we're on social media at Holdmyguns.org on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So find us there and get in touch. We'd love to hear from you.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:44:50    Perfect. And I'll have links to all of those, your website and social media accounts in the show notes. So anyone who's looking to get in touch with you, go ahead and check out the show notes, you can click through from there. And again, it's been amazing to be able to talk with you about this and I think we did a good job of keeping politics out of it too.  

Sara Albrecht:    00:45:12    And really having a non-legislative solution does that. And when you can really get to the heart of the matter and help people where they are and provide support regardless of their political affiliation, it really helps to save lives. It makes a difference and that is our goal. So it's been an absolute pleasure speaking with you as well, Scott.  I can't wait until this airs, I'm looking forward to listening to it. 

Scott DeLuzio:  Great. Thank you very much.  

Scott DeLuzio:    00:45:45    Thanks for listening to the Drive On Podcast. If you want to check out more episodes or learn more about the show, you can visit our website DriveOnPodcasts.com. We're also on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube at Drive On Podcast. 

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