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Innovation Press Releases

First out-of-home gun storage map to prevent suicide

Families can improve home safety by storing firearms with law enforcement and retailers

Author Julia Milzer | Publish Date August 26, 2019

Faculty members at the Colorado School of Public Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine at the Anschutz Medical Campus announced the Colorado Gun Storage Map, the first online out-of-home firearm storage map in the country. Until now, there’s been no web-based resource to link community members and clinicians to off-site storage options, such as firearm retailers or law enforcement agencies, during times of crisis. The new resource was developed in collaboration with the Colorado Firearm Safety Coalition, a group of gun shop owners, firearms trainers, and public health researchers who share a goal of preventing suicide.

High Rate of Firearm Suicide

In 2017, Colorado had the tenth highest rate of suicide in the nation and approximately half of the suicides happened with firearms. When adolescents die by firearm suicide, over 80 percent use a gun belonging to a family member.

“Suicide is a major public health problem in Colorado and when someone is at risk of suicide, the safest option is to store guns away from their home temporarily,” said Sara Brandspigel, MPH, assistant director, Program for Injury Prevention, Education and Research at the Colorado School of Public Health. “Our goal with creating this resource is to improve community safety and prevent suicide by reducing the time it takes for people to find and reach out to local storage options, which is a challenging landscape to navigate.”

Partnership with Law Enforcement and Gun Shops

CU Anschutz faculty identified 15 law enforcement agencies and 47 gun shop owners around the state that currently offer out-of-home storage options, and they will continue to add new storage locations to the map. The storage map lists contact information to streamline the process of identifying storage options.

“Navigating the ever-changing legal landscape and looking for reasonable options for storage in a time of crisis can add a lot of stress to an already stressful situation,” said Jacquelyn Clark, owner of Bristlecone Shooting, Training & Retail Center. “We have room at our facility to house a moderate number of firearms just for storage purposes and are committed to being good community partners. It makes sense to offer our facility as a resource to families who may need temporary storage at an affordable rate.”

The online resource can also be used for a number of temporary firearm storage reasons, such as when traveling out of state, hosting visitors, selling a home, etc.

“Participation in the Colorado Gun Storage Map is another means of helping our community members, which can be accomplished so easily,” said Mark Heminghous, chief of police, Dillon Police Department. “We want to be able to offer people the ability to have some time away from their firearms if they need it. We hope people will take us up on the offer before they experience a crisis.”

The Colorado Gun Storage Map is available at https://coloradofirearmsafetycoalition.org/gun-storage-map/.