PCS Blog

This blog is a place to share ideas and learn about the latest Project ChildSafe events, activities, tools and materials you can use with your communities. We would love to hear from you, so email us at PCSStaff@nssf.org with your photos, stories, ideas and questions.
June 4, 2019

Project ChildSafe partners foster a culture of firearms safety that helps prevent firearms accidents, theft and misuse. Over the last few years, we have seen our partners around the country take even more steps to advocate for safe firearms storage. Our partners include local organizations representing conservation groups, mental health and suicide prevention advocates, veterans, faith groups, firearms retailers and ranges, hunting and shooting groups and law enforcement, among others.

“We’ve given out thousands of Project ChildSafe gun locks to people who want and need them. I do believe we’ve also increased awareness on this issue.” – Matthew D. Weintraub, Bucks County District Attorney

Project ChildSafe’s efforts focus on providing free firearm safety kits that include a gun lock and safety brochure, as well as spreading free firearms safety resources through coordinated distribution events, media events and a growing list of organizational supporters. Program partners take these efforts and amplify them further within their respective communities through various local events, as well as spreading firearms safety messages and awareness both in person and on social media.

“We would not be able to provide free gun locks to our residents without our partnership with Project ChildSafe, and we have seen firsthand the impact it has on our residents. Some individuals can’t afford costly secure storage options to keep their weapons safe, and Project ChildSafe in turn provides a free solution through their locks and materials.” – Mentor-on-the-Lake Police Chief John Gielink

Over the last two decades, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 38 million firearm safety kits throughout 55 U.S. states and territories. Project ChildSafe has also created infographics, blog posts, flyers and other supporting materials to help community partners spread safety messages to their neighbors, friends and families. The distribution of these resources has been made possible through partnerships with 15,000 law enforcement agencies and more than 9,000 supporting organizations. Project ChildSafe is thankful for all the partners that have helped make a difference in communities nationwide.

“Partnering with Project ChildSafe has given us the opportunity to provide a free method of education and options for securing firearms for our university community. We have received continuous positive feedback from this initiative.” – Officer Jeff Butterworth, Sam Houston State University Police Department

Following a grant provided by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance in 2015, Project ChildSafe and the National Shooting Sports Foundation launched the Project ChildSafe Communities program to engage select communities – Oklahoma City, Memphis and Cleveland – to promote responsible firearms ownership and securely storing firearms when not in use. More than 50 partners in these three communities alone help spread the message of safe and responsible firearms ownership. Project ChildSafe Communities is a community-driven program, and the involvement of local organizations is critical to the program’s success.

“By making safety kits and educational resources available, we will help promote responsible gun ownership to members of our community to have a larger impact in facilitating smart habits that will help keep guns safely stored away from children, at-risk individuals and criminals.” – Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty

Recently, Project ChildSafe released a new PSA, educational video series and Firearms Safety in Vehicles brochure to further assist gun owners and non-owners of varying backgrounds to better know and understand the importance of practicing firearms safety. Additional resources can be found here.

“Project ChildSafe gives us an ongoing opportunity to talk to the public about gun safety and to help prevent accidental deaths and injuries by reducing the number of unsecured firearms in our community.” – Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts

For more information on how to get involved with Project ChildSafe, please email pcsstaff@projectchildsafe.org.


March 28, 2019

Name: Matthew D. Weintraub, District Attorney

Department: Bucks County District Attorney’s Office


How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

We distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and materials through community partnerships. We feel the need to educate gun owners and non-gun owners alike on the value of firearms safety and safe storage. In our community Benjamin Smith, a two-year-old boy who accidentally shot and killed himself with his father’s gun, inspired us to form Ben’s Campaign. This campaign helps to spread the word in the media about the importance of secure storage of firearms and to garner the support we needed to reach individuals in the community to help make a difference.

From the beginning of the campaign, we knew that it wasn’t practical for the residents of Bucks County to get gun locks solely from us. To assist us, we enlisted the help of our local police departments, the Bucks County Sheriff’s Office, Bucks County Children & Youth and our friends at the Bucks County Network of Victim Assistance (NOVA) to expand our reach countywide.

Since 2017, the partner agencies have become community pick-up locations for locks. Folks only need come in and ask. In addition, our police departments distribute locks at various events throughout the county, and the sheriff’s office offers them to anyone applying for a concealed carry permit. This strategy has been a huge success and has resulted in the distribution of countless gun locks.

NOVA, who makes sure each gun lock comes packaged with gun safety information, has estimated that we have distributed thousands of gun locks to our community through this effort. Demand for more the gun locks is so high that we can barely keep them in stock.

To help expand our reach, we’re now in the process of partnering with additional agencies, including the Bucks County Area Agency on Aging, the Lenape Valley Foundation and the Central Bucks Rescue Squad. Beginning this spring, we will provide free gun locks to households where people are suffering from dementia or who are at risk of suicide. We hope to help these households store their guns safely and avoid tragedies in their homes.

Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

Community safety is paramount to our mission. With the heartbreaking passing of Ben Smith, we immediately recognized a safety deficiency that we needed to remedy. Project ChildSafe shares our dedication to gun safety and provided us with the free gun locks needed to realize our vision, while maximizing the benefit to our residents and taxpayers.

How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

Since Ben’s Campaign began in 2017, Bucks County has not had a single accidental child death involving a firearm. There is no question that with thousands of Project ChildSafe’s free gun locks in our community, our children are now safer. Our hope is that with increased and ongoing education and awareness, we can help ensure no child has unauthorized access to firearms.

How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

We all have a duty to protect our children. Start by keeping your own weapons locked and unloaded when not in use. Once your guns are safely stored, help spread the message and let others know where they can get free gun locks, too. Project ChildSafe also has a variety of helpful safety resources and educational materials including the Project ChildSafe child’s pledge, ten tips for firearms safety in your home and a video on how to talk to kids about firearms safety.

January 29, 2019

Name: Officer Jeff Butterworth

Department: Sam Houston State University Police Department (Huntsville, TX)


How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

We pass out the gun locks and safety information at various community safety events our department and university host, such as our annual Fall Festival. The university president has directly requested that we distribute the Project ChildSafe locks and information. We also advertise the availability of these materials at our orientations – in the event a student, staff or faculty member wishes to retrieve them from our office. We have received continuous positive feedback from this initiative.

Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

With the recent implementation of the Texas “Campus Carry” law, we wanted to provide our students with a safe way to store their firearms in their residence halls. Partnering with Project ChildSafe has given us the opportunity to provide a free method of education and options for securing firearms for our university community. When we provide this information, we are having a conversation with our community about gun safety, and further building a positive relationship.

How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

Recent changes in Texas laws have increased the areas where firearms are allowed, including on university campuses, so with Project ChildSafe’s assistance, we have remained proactive within our community in addressing safety. The members of our community have developed a greater trust with our department because we have shown them we care about the importance of gun safety on campus.

How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

Developing a dialogue about gun safety with members of the community will help get the message out. We have to have the difficult conversations with our youth and young adults to enhance their knowledge and awareness of the issues. Social media is a great tool to help get this message across, but it is the personal connection that will ultimately prove to be more successful. As law enforcement, we have to take the initiative to become proactive within our communities. We need to create a positive environment by using communications and connections, which will in turn builds trust with the department and its officers.

December 17, 2018

Over the last two years, Project ChildSafe has distributed approximately 40,000 free gun locks in Memphis, Cleveland and Oklahoma City through local outreach, events and assistance from supporters. The program has also established 54 community partnerships with local law enforcement agencies and organizations, equipping them with the necessary tools and resources to help spread the message of safe and responsible firearms storage.  

Project ChildSafe’s efforts is a result of the two-year, $2.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (DOJ-BJA) to launch community-wide firearms safety initiatives in pilot communities. Together with the BJA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), Project ChildSafe Communities and local partners have raised firearms safety awareness through distribution of educational materials, partner outreach, public service announcements and city-wide gun lock giveaways. The initiative has helped to educate gun owners and the public on the importance of firearms safety and safe storage in order to help prevent firearms accidents, thefts and misuse.

“These communities have seen directly how firearms accidents and misuse affect families, and how accidents could have been prevented,” said NSSF CEO Steve Sanetti. “Over the last two years, we’ve been able to deepen partnerships in these communities to help create a culture of firearms safety. We’ve accomplished a lot through the initiative, and we will continue to support our communities with a program they can model.”

These partners, ranging from local government officials and police departments to local chapters of organizations such as the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, have been vital Project ChildSafe’s efforts in these communities. Supporters such as Miles Hall with Hall N Hall Consulting, a firearms safety advocate in Oklahoma City, have helped underscore the importance of secure firearms storage. Hall and his wife, Jayne, actively distribute firearms safety locks and recruit local supporters in the area, playing a key role in engaging local retailers and schools in distributing firearms safety materials in the community.

“Working with Project ChildSafe to promote firearms safety and safe storage is truly a collaborative effort, and I’m seeing the impact the program is making on my community,” said Hall. “If we continue to work together with programs like Project ChildSafe, we can do even more to help prevent firearms tragedies.”

Support from committed local partners has made it possible to provide thousands of locks and safety materials across the regions:

· With the help of local organizations, Project ChildSafe launched a year-long, community-led effort in Cleveland in May 2018 to provide thousands of free gun locks throughout the region. To date, Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 12,000 gun locks and established 16 new partners, including Mt. Sinai Baptist Church, Delta Waterfowl, 4-H Shooting Sports and Metro Health Police Department, among others.  

· Community efforts in Memphis have been successful, with more than 17,000 gun locks distributed in the region and 15 new partnerships made with local organizations, including the Office of Mayor Jim Strickland, the National African American Gun Owners Association, University of Memphis and Range USA, among others.

· Project ChildSafe has distributed more than 10,000 gun locks in Oklahoma City and engaged 23 local partners with the program, including the Oklahoma City Gun Club, the Oklahoma City Police Department and the Oklahoma Army National Guard, among others.

Nationally, Project ChildSafe, which was established in 1999 as a firearms safety education program of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, has established partnerships with more than 15,000 local law enforcement agencies in communities across the country and engaged more than 8,500 organizational supporters. The program has helped educate firearms owners on the importance of gun safety in communities across all 50 states and five U.S. territories, and distributed more than 38 million free firearms safety kits.

The 2017 U.S. Government Accountability Office report concluded that free locking devices positively influenced public behavior to store firearms more safely. Through Project ChildSafe, communities are able to keep secure firearms storage top of mind year-round.

However, we need your help to continue promoting genuine firearms safety. That’s why Project ChildSafe is committed to empowering local leaders to make firearms safety a priority by enabling them to tailor elements of the program to address specific, local needs. Gun owners can also practice firearms safety by obtaining a free firearm safety kit – including a gun lock – at local law enforcement agencies across the country. Additionally, a variety of educational resources are available and free online.

For more information on Project ChildSafe and how to get involved, visit projectchildsafe.org.

December 14, 2018

Name: Sheriff Craig Roberts

Department: Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (Clackamas, OR)


How does your agency distribute Project ChildSafe gun locks and safety materials in your community?

The gun locks are distributed in two ways –

1)     Gun locks and safety materials are offered to gun owners who attend community events, including the Clackamas County Fair, safety and wellness events and other community events, fairs and festivals throughout the county.

2)     Community members who use our Public Safety Training Center (PSTC) firearms range are provided free gun locks upon request. Interested residents can learn more about the PSTC at PublicSafetyTrainingCenter.com.


Why does your department partner with Project ChildSafe?

Our county is a large mix of urban, rural and forest land with over 400,000 residents; more than half own guns for personal safety, for hunting and for sport. Project ChildSafe gives us an ongoing opportunity to talk to the public about gun safety, and help prevent accidental deaths and injuries by reducing the number of unsecured firearms in our community.


How has access to free gun locks and safety materials impacted your community?

While we can’t measure the precise impact, we do believe we're seeing an increase in public awareness that gun locks are a necessary component of responsible gun ownership. Folks are generally very open to receiving the safety materials and gun locks.


How can residents in your community and communities across the country become more involved in spreading the message of safety?

Many of our residents are involved in coalitions for youth safety and suicide prevention. Gun locks can easily become an integral piece of their messaging — and thanks in part to Project ChildSafe, we're here to help. Our office can be a tremendous resource for residents who want to take an active role in building safer communities.

December 3, 2018

The holidays are here, and family and friends across the country will soon gather in celebration of the season. December comes with an added focus on safety, as children spend more time at home and families prepare to host guests or visit loved ones. Fire prevention and travel safety are usually top-of-mind during this time of year, but it’s equally important to practice firearms safety.

“As more children are home over the holidays, there’s a greater chance they may encounter or handle a gun without supervision, posing a risk of accidental harm to themselves or others,” said National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) CEO Steve Sanetti. “The holidays are an important time to emphasize responsible firearms storage, and Project ChildSafe has a wealth of educational materials available to help gun owners and their families practice firearms safety during the holiday season.”

This year, consider adding a new tradition to your safety checklist with a review of firearms safety practices:

  1. Store firearms unloaded when not in use and secure from unauthorized access in the home or while traveling. Thoroughly double check firearms to confirm they are unloaded. Gun locking devices, when used in conjunction with secure storage systems such as lock boxes and gun safes can provide a double measure of safety and security. Click here to find out where you can pick up a free Project ChildSafe Safety Kit, which includes a cable-style gun lock and safety instructions. You can also check out Project ChildSafe’s gun storage options to find one that is best suited to your lifestyle.
  2. Store firearms and ammunition separately and out of sight. Separate storage provides another level of security against accidents, and it’s well known that a visible firearm is often a temptation, for children or for thieves.  If you are hosting for the holidays, review the ten tips for firearms safety as a refresher on safe storage fundamentals for firearms in the home.
  3. Firearms in vehicles require proper storage too.  If you are traveling for the holidays, or enjoying time off for a hunting trip, your firearm may be in your vehicle. Take a look at Project ChildSafe’s brochure about firearms safety in vehicles.
  4. Talk to your kids about firearms safety. It is important that children become familiar with the rules of firearms safety and practice them whether in their homes or the homes of others. Learn from competitive shooting sports champion Julie Golob as she discusses the sometimes challenging conversation of firearms safety with children, and start by teaching them what to do if they find a gun with the help of McGruff the Crime Dog. Once your kids understand the rules of firearms safety, have them sign the pledge promising to stay safe around firearms.
  5. Test your knowledge of firearms safety. While your current storage method and safety practices may be suitable for your current lifestyle, it is important to remember that environments and situations change while hosting or visiting friends and family. Discern fact from fiction with Project ChildSafe’s Myth Busters Quiz.

Visit projectchildsafe.org to learn more. For additional firearms safety resources, click here.

November 2, 2018

The Project ChildSafe team recently spoke with outdoorsman and firearms safety advocate Steven Rinella. Steve is the host of the Netflix show MeatEater and hosts The MeatEater Podcast. He's also the author of six books, including The MeatEater Fish and Game Cookbook: Recipes and Techniques for Every Hunter and Angler.

How did you start hunting and how did that lead to where you are now?

I started hunting at a very young age. I come from a long line of hunters; my father and grandfather both hunted, and we always had guns in our home. Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional trapper, with the backup plan of working as an outdoor writer. After I finished grad school, I started working as an outdoor writer for magazines, which led me into books, and finally led me into television and podcasts. I’ve stayed true to what I originally intended to do: spend time in the outdoors. All of this experience has culminated to where I am today, working with MeaterEater, Inc. as the host of MeatEater TV and MeatEater podcast.

Hunting is such a big part of your life. How do you practice safe and ethical hunting?

One of the things that helped me become even more aware of gun safety and my personal gun handling habits, both good and bad, was filming MeatEater. Most of our crew isn’t as familiar -- or comfortable -- with firearms as I am. Therefore, it’s very important for me to be aware of my handling practices and of how our team prioritizes firearms safety. We work to codify how we can safely function as a team while on the hunt, ensuring we develop best practices to remain safe throughout the entire filming process. For us, this includes carrying appropriate safety equipment, wearing proper hunter clothing, and being aware of our surroundings and others before shooting.

What do you know now about hunting that you wish you knew when you first started?

I wish I had spent more time practicing my “weaker” skills rather than always letting someone else take the lead while on the hunt. For example, my brother has always been good at game calling, something that was never one of my strongest skills. It would have been beneficial to practice and improve upon my skills more often instead of letting him always game call. Additionally, I grew up hunting deer over bait. I wish that I had focused on learning a different style of deer hunting and learned more about natural deer movements when I was younger. I would have liked to know more about resources and educational materials that are available for hunters, too. Project ChildSafe’s Hunt S.A.F.E. campaign is a helpful reminder to prioritize firearms safety, responsibility and education – something that is important regardless if you’re just starting out as a hunter or are very experienced.
What advice would you give to someone interested in learning more about hunting or trying hunting for the first time?

First, if you’re interested in trying or learning to hunt, you should go and spend time with people who are familiar with hunting. It can be hard to do if you did not grow up in this community, but it is incredibly helpful to learn from seasoned hunters. One tactic is getting involved with local conservation groups. You don’t have to be an expert to join. Just get involved, pull your weight in the group and learn from the experts around you – and the people there will respect your efforts and help you along your learning journey.

Secondly, you need to realize that there is a huge learning curve. It’s good to go into it with humility, since not all hunts will be exciting. There will be many disappointing hunting trips in which you won’t get anything – but that happens to everyone, especially for lifelong hunters.

Why do you support Project ChildSafe and firearms safety?

Nine years ago, I wouldn’t have felt that I had anything significant to contribute to the firearms safety conversation, as I practiced safe storage by habit. Having children, however, reframed safe storage in my home. Firearms safety is something that my wife and I actively plan, discuss and think about every day. I want my kids to be responsible gun owners and enjoy firearms when they grow up, but with that comes practicing firearms safety. It is my goal to constantly reinforce this message by my behavior and set a responsible example.

Project ChildSafe is a great program and resource to raise awareness around the importance of firearms safety. It also provides resources for different lifestyles and for those who may need help starting the conversation with their children about firearms.


Project ChildSafe wants to promote S.A.F.E. hunting and remind outdoorsmen and women to Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. For more tips to ensure a safe hunt, check out Project ChildSafe’s hunting checklist, brochure, and toolkit and take our Hunt S.A.F.E. quiz!


November 2, 2018

The Project ChildSafe team recently sat down with firearms safety advocate and hunting celebrity Eva Shockey. Eva is a wildlife conservationist, an outdoors enthusiast and co-host of Outdoor Channel’s “Jim Shockey’s Hunting Adventures.” We chatted with her about hunting and the importance of firearms safety in the field. 

Can you tell us about your background, how you were introduced to the world of hunting and how that led to where you are today?

My dad has been involved in the hunting world for my entire life. During my childhood, there were many hunting trips that were disguised as family vacations. This introduced me to being comfortable in the woods and learning to appreciate nature and wildlife. It was in this setting where I learned about the concept of field-to-table eating and having an appreciation and understanding of where my food comes from. Being around my dad’s T.V. show since I was 15 years old only strengthened my love for hunting and promoting a healthy outdoor lifestyle. This eventually turned into a career that I truly enjoy every day, promoting family, camping, hunting, fishing and encouraging everyone to get outdoors. 

How do you go about practicing safety on the hunt?

Hunting safety has been engrained in my family for as long as I can remember. I learned about firearms safety before I started hunting, and the critical nature of safe gun handling was only further reinforced in the field. To my family, this meant respecting firearms and not treating them like toys – something that quickly became second nature for me. The lessons I learned very early on in life rolled over into taking safety very seriously while hunting. These habits range from never having your finger on the trigger unless you are prepared to shoot to wearing proper attire that is clearly visible, like hunter orange.

What tips do you have for a new or prospective hunter?

The best way to learn about hunting and hunting safely is to talk to someone who has been around it for a long time. If you don’t know any experienced hunters, seek educational resources. When I first started shooting, I took a gun safety course that taught how to shoot and handle a gun safely while reinforcing tips for how to always keep those lessons top-of-mind. I still practice what I learned from that class to this day. Additionally, I would urge new hunters to fully immerse themselves in the process, be comfortable with their firearms and create a safe environment free of surprises.

Do you have any tips for seasoned hunters?

It is our responsibility to pass on the rich tradition of hunting to the next generation. Include others and encourage them to have a safe and fun hunting experience. Invite those interested along with you, help them out and show them the ropes. I also find that putting ego to the side and making safety the number one priority is important for experienced hunters. In my family, we have taken our egos out of the hunting equation. It is a rule that when you hunt with us, you should not only feel comfortable pointing out to someone that they aren’t exhibiting safe hunting behavior, but you are required to do so. This means flagging unsafe habits to even the most seasoned hunters, something that might be uncomfortable in some groups. I only hunt with people who share this philosophy so that I know our common goal is to have a safe and successful hunt.

How do you advocate for S.A.F.E. hunting?

I like to promote firearms safety at every stage of the hunt. Familiarizing myself with local rules and policies is a key component of any trip, so I start with understanding the regulations of any relevant state, county or city. Once that is done, it is all about encouraging firearms safety, from checking if a gun is loaded to trigger and muzzle discipline. Even when I work with film or photography crews, encouraging firearms safety is essential – even if it means stepping in to enforce safety.  

Project ChildSafe wants to promote S.A.F.E. hunting and remind outdoorsmen and -women to Store your firearms responsibly when not in use; Always practice firearms safety; Focus on your responsibilities as a firearms owner; and Education is key to preventing accidents. For more tips to ensure a safe hunt, check out Project ChildSafe’s hunting checklistbrochure, and toolkit and take our Hunt S.A.F.E. quiz!

October 17, 2018

The Project ChildSafe team recently sat down with Project ChildSafe supporter Ryan Cleckner. Ryan is a former Army Ranger sniper team leader, bestselling author and firearms expert. We chatted with him about his latest book, "There’s Only One You," which focuses on teaching firearms safety to children.

Can you tell us a little about your background and how firearms safety become such a priority to you and your family?

I’ve been around firearms all of my life, as I grew up hunting and shooting in Arizona. As a young child, my dad always obliged whenever I expressed interest in seeing his firearms or if I wanted to shoot. Looking back, I found this particularly effective. It offered me the opportunity to regularly examine my dad’s firearms, and it demystified guns in a safe environment. I later joined the Army and made my way into the elite 1st Ranger Battalion of the 75th Ranger Regiment as a special operations sniper.

What inspired you to write a book specifically geared toward teaching firearms safety to children?

“There’s Only One You” is very personal to me. My family is portrayed throughout the illustrations, and I’ve dedicated it to my daughter, Alice, who was the inspiration behind the book. I remember one day in particular, when Alice came home from school and told me about the various safety drills they had practiced. It hit me as she talked about how they had practiced pool safety and fire drills – why aren’t we discussing the importance of firearms safety with our children? We teach them safety for so many other issues, but it’s very important that our children understand firearms safety. Even if you are a parent and not a gun owner, there is still a chance that one of your children’s friends has a firearm in their home. In that case, it’s important that they understand how to act (or react) around it. Adults have a responsibility to teach their children about the importance of firearms safety.

How do you practice firearms safety at home and teach your children about the importance of firearms safety?

Firearms safety is very important to me. Whenever I take Alice shooting, I always make her recite the four rules of firearms safety. However, even though we go over them regularly, it is notably harder for children to remember the rules of firearms safety. I took this knowledge into account when I wrote “There’s Only One You.” The book encourages children to always find an adult if they encounter an unsecured firearm. Additionally, I always ensure that firearms are under the complete control of an adult or safely secured; children should never have unauthorized access to unsecured firearms.

How does “There’s Only One You” fit in with your support of Project ChildSafe?

We need to be discussing firearms safety for children – we’re doing a disservice to ourselves if we are ignoring the importance of firearms safety. Project ChildSafe is an organization that already provides resources to educate people about firearms safety, and “There’s Only One You” is a great resource to help parents have the important discussion about firearms safety with their children.

Ryan Cleckner is a former Army Ranger sniper team leader, current bestselling author, and firearms attorney at RocketFFL. His passions for teaching and firearms are coming together soon at GunUniversity.com. For now, he’s focused on helping to keep kids safe with a school safety app, MaydaySafety; and his latest book, There’s Only One You.

September 10, 2018

For Robin Ball, the co-owner of Sharp Shooting Indoor Range & Gun Shop in Spokane, Washington, National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month provides a reminder of the importance of responsible firearms ownership and storage. Robin was a firearms novice when she began her career as a range owner and retailer, and it quickly became clear that helping to prevent suicide by firearm in her community was an important part of her business.

Two-thirds of firearms-related fatalities are suicides. Robin believes this number is too high and is actively working to help stop suicide. Robin’s desire to educate staff and customers alike on the warning signs of suicide sparked when a suicide occurred at her range. Robin became involved with local committees and initiatives for suicide prevention and has made the issue a regular topic of conversation with her employees. She also has made it mandatory for new employees to complete training on suicide prevention.

Robin and her staff frequently use the Firearms and Suicide Prevention brochure, developed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) in partnership with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP). She also uses ASFP-NSSF Suicide Prevention Toolkit, and has spoken with other retailers about suicide prevention, providing them with materials and information about ASFP and NSSF’s toolkit. In 2017, AFSP and NSSF embarked on a national firearms and suicide prevention program focused on educating the gun-owning community on warning signs, risk factors and methods to keep firearms out of reach from those who might wish to harm themselves.

Robin can name several instances where her employees have been able to identify a customer in crisis, talk them through the situation and avoid a potentially tragic outcome. “Helping my employees to recognize when they don’t feel comfortable selling firearms by providing them with feedback during roleplay, along with regular discussions about the importance of suicide prevention, is critical,” says Ball. “Time can change people’s minds. If we can make that time gap bigger, we can help and make a difference.”

Suicide prevention experts note that because suicide is often an impulsive act, putting time and distance between a person in crisis and lethal methods can help save a life. Having a “brave conversation” with someone, as the AFSP-NSSF poster encourages, and keeping firearms and other potentially harmful means out of reach are deterrents. Robin also has several of these posters displayed around her store, as reminders for her customers and employees.

In addition to encouraging her staff to use their judgment and keep their eyes open for unsettling situations, Robin reinforces the importance of safe storage throughout her store with Project ChildSafe posters for both her customers and employees. She says that safe storage is important, but not only for keeping firearms away from kids. “Time can change a situation. Whether it’s parents suddenly dealing with moody teenagers, having your kids bring their friends over or having a spouse who is beginning to suffer from dementia – it’s important to not give them access to your firearms,” says Ball.

Project ChildSafe is proud to work with Robin Ball and to recognize her efforts for suicide prevention and safe storage.

If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741-741.