I know the Hold My Guns® mission is important to you, and I’m eager to share these updates:
- New firearms storage partner! - Branson Cerakote, LLC, in Branson, Missouri
- Feedback on suicide prevention presentation at the US Concealed Carry Association (USCCA) Expo
- Veteran’s thoughts on “Risk Factors”
- Maureen’s story
- Two HMG Team members now certified as QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructors!
Please note that I recognize this post is a bit long, and I’m grateful for your time. As I find my groove with writing updates, I’m thinking I might go for shorter, more frequent communication with links to related blog posts vs. trying to cram all the content into a lengthy email. I welcome your feedback on this! I want for updates to be uplifting and not a chore to read!
Before I get into the HMG updates, I want to personally say thank you for your ongoing encouragement and financial support. It is making a difference, as you can see! As a thank you to those participating in the campaign to bring Hold My Guns® storage locations to all 50 states, we are giving away velcro-backed vinyl logo patches as a thank you to our donors! I have mine on my range bag. To get yours, please donate $20 or more and be sure to include your shipping information.
New Firearms Storage Partner!!
Hold My Guns® continues to grow! We now have three firearms storage partners on our location map! Whenever you are in the market for firearms-related items, classes, and services, please consider doing business with our HMG partners, knowing that they sincerely care about their customers and are making a difference in their communities.
Branson, Missouri - Branson Cerakote, LLC
“As a business owner who is a veteran and retired law enforcement officer, I value rights protected by the Second Amendment. Having been in the military and law enforcement, I understand that sometimes people find themselves in overwhelming situations where access to firearms can lead to devastating decisions. The Hold My Guns® program provides gun owners with the option of voluntarily storing their firearms in a secure location. We are honored to be a part of a program that supports gun rights while offering a safe alternative for responsible gun owners.” - John Siegert, who co-owns Branson Cerakote, LLC, along with his wife Laura.
John served in the US Army as an Airborne Infantryman. Laura, a graphic artist with over 20 years of experience, is also a registered nurse. Branson Cerakote, LLC, is known for exceptional, quality firearms customization through cerakoting and laser engraving. As firearms enthusiasts themselves, the Siegerts recognize that firearms are an investment and they take pride in their work. With nearly 10,000 subscribers on their YouTube Channel, they are well-loved in their firearms community and their artistic work inspires gun owners around the world.
To learn more check out our official partnership press release.
Interested in becoming a storage partner? Please reach out!
USCCA Expo: A Veteran’s Thoughts on “Risk Factors” + Maureen’s Story
Last month, I shared that I would be presenting “Threats from Within: Assessing Risk and Creating a Safety Plan at the US Concealed Carry Association Expo in Fort Worth, Texas. Advocating for personal responsibility and encouraging practical, proactive safety planning is something that stirs passion in me. It starts with us, in our own homes. I share this with others from the perspective of humbly acknowledging that anyone can find themselves unexpectedly at rock bottom. As with planning a journey, we never quite know what the weather will look like, or whom we might meet along the way. However, if we prepare ahead of time, have a map, and know where we can find helpful trusted resources, we can navigate to our destination.
(Note: The personal safety plan template can be found here.)
What moved me the most about the experience of presenting at USCCA were the unforgettable stories shared by guests who lingered after each of the three, one-hour workshops.
Here is what one veteran shared with me privately:
“In the past, whenever I read through the list of risk factors in suicide prevention material aimed toward veterans, I often walked away thinking that I’m just one giant risk walking around. Suicide of family and friends, job loss, isolation, substance abuse, PTSD… I have identified with most of the risks on those lists at some point in my life. It makes me feel broken. Today, I realized that I have protective factors, too. For the first time in a while, I feel like a whole person. I realized that you can have a laundry list of risk factors and even just one or two protective factors that matter, and it’s everything. Thank you for saying that the firearms community is a protective factor – I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for my buddies I shoot with. We look out for each other.”
Hearing this broke my heart and energized me at the same time. We must be mindful of our approach to reducing suicide and purpose ourselves to be a megaphone for hope! (Will you help me get this message out to the world?)
I have another story to share –
Sitting in the front row was a lovely woman in a periwinkle cardigan. She listened intently to the presentation. Later, that afternoon, she saw me on the showroom floor and introduced herself. Her name was Maureen. Maureen shared with me that this spring, her husband had passed away unexpectedly. She recently purchased a firearm for self-protection. She had very limited experience with firearms yet was determined to overcome her fear. I said, “Hey! Did you know that Mobile Tactics has a shooting range here at the Expo? I’m wearing open-toed heels right now, but I’m willing to put on the community Crocs if you’ll go shooting with me!” She. Said. Yes. This week, she wrote to me about her experience.
I’ll let her take the story from here (shared with permission):
“Maureen here. I am really new to everything firearms-related!
My husband recently passed away in an automobile accident.
My son has wanted me to have a gun for personal protection at home and work. I was not at all comfortable with it at the time, but I know my son cares about me and I understood why he wanted me to have a gun.
I purchased my firearm on September 12, 2021. Two days later, my son took me to the range to learn how to use my newly purchased firearm.
Then, on September 18th, I attended my License to Carry course, qualified, and passed the written exam. My license arrived on September 30th. The process was quick and easy! The only problem was that I was not yet comfortable with my firearm, or ready to use it.
Luckily on September 27th, I heard an ad on the radio about the USCCA Expo in Ft. Worth. Not wanting to be afraid of my firearm, and wanting to learn more about concealed carry from a practical perspective, I called and became a member that day so I could attend the Expo on October 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.
I cannot begin to tell you the difference going to the Expo has made for me. The firearms community was friendly, inclusive, and helpful to me as a very new intimidated member with a license but no real knowledge or confidence.
I was able to attend classes, visit with vendors, try several different guns in the on-site firing range with the help and guidance of my new friends. I felt so welcomed and encouraged!
I was able to attend many helpful and informative classes at the Expo such as, What You Need to Know About Concealed Carry Firearms for Beginners, Emergency First Aid, Ask an Attorney, and Women’s Self Defense.
A class that stands out in my mind was Threats from Within: Assessing Risk and Creating a Safety Plan by Sarah Joy Albrecht. This class was extremely thought-provoking and informative. In it, I learned about the risk factors for suicide, protective factors that keep us strong such as being a part of a community, and purposefully creating a place of refuge in the home.
I thought the Hold My Guns® storage program was a great idea and helpful concept for people who fear losing their rights or being stigmatized. Confidential, voluntary off-site storage through Hold My Guns®’ partners helps keep those at risk safe and gives them peace of mind knowing their firearms are securely and safely stored – such a great way to help keep those at risk safe!
Thank You Sarah for your insight, ideas, and implementation of this amazing program. Now let’s all try to help find firearms stores and ranges willing to help with this safety program!
Maureen from Texas
(Yeahhhh…. I made a new friend!)
QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructors!
You may remember that in July, Hold My Guns®, in collaboration with the Montgomery County Suicide Prevention Taskforce and the Lower Providence Rod and Gun Club (LPRGC) in Audubon, PA, offered QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) Institute Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Training to approximately 50 members of the firearms community. Students received a certificate of completion that can be added as a professional credential.
Realizing the need for suicide prevention training within our firearms community, and wanting to help fill that gap, HMG Board Member Paul Jones, who also serves as the Treasurer at LPRGC, and myself both took a course on September 30th in Norristown to become certified as QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper Instructors. Our goal is to be able to equip the firearms community with training in suicide prevention.
The course was taught by QPR Instructor Jess Fenchel, who also serves as the Vice President of Behavioral Health at Access Services in Fort Washington, Pennsylvania. One of the insights she shared was, “Help is not helpful unless it is helping.” She emphasized the importance of protective factors and connecting at-risk individuals to resources that meet their unique needs. Her words underscored to me the importance of the mission of Hold My Guns® that meets gun owners' needs! Throughout her presentation, Fenchel reminded us that everyone is carrying an invisible weight and to treat others with kindness. That is a message we all need to hear!.
Sarah Joy Albrecht