Wisconsin Gun Shop Owners Urged To Help Prevent Suicides

Dane County Effort Replicates Program Started In New Hampshire

Brennan Linsley/AP Photo

A new effort by Safe Communities of Madison-Dane County kicked off Tuesday to help prevent suicides. The new tactic involves gun shop owners and was unveiled in Madison as part of its Zero Suicide initiative.

Gun retailers are urged to not to sell firearms to people who show signs of being suicidal; firing range owners are also taught how to spot such customers. Both receive educational materials for themselves and customers.

Chuck Lovelace is participating in the Gun Shop Project, and he owns a gun shop in the Village of Mount Horeb called Essential Shooting Supplies.

Stay informed on the latest news

Sign up for WPR’s email newsletter.

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

“We are the first line of defense to recognize someone who may be suffering from suicidal thoughts,” he said. “And gun stores can be a place of support in keeping guns out of the hands of people during a brief suicidal crisis by taking the time to talk to our customers and really get to know what their mindset is.”

The program also encourages customers to store firearms away from a family member if they are in crisis. The coordinator of the Gun Shop Project for Safe Communities, Jean Papalia, said they are replicating a program that originated in New Hampshire in 2011 to see if it can have an impact here.

“In Dane County we lose 60 to 70 people annually to suicide, more than a person a week,” she said. “And we need all hands on deck now to do something about this tragedy.”

The state Department of Health Services wrote in a report that there were 874 suicides in Wisconsin in 2015.

Related Stories