On November 16th and 17th hundreds of people attended, in person and online, the FRC’s first major suicide prevention initiative. Partnered with the Wyoming Department of Health, Cheyenne’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and Walk the Talk America, this two-day conference covered issues of mental health stigmatization within and outside gun communities.
The first day was dedicated to the legal side and practical application of out-of-home storage. The first session was comprised of representatives from the FRC, Wyoming Department of Health, Office of Veterans Affairs, UW Business School, and Walk the Talk America. It served as an introduction to some of the statistics and issues around death by suicide both nationally and in Wyoming.
The second session was an ATF briefing on firearms laws, federal firearms licenses, and out-of-home storage. The purpose of this session was to provide the audience with an understanding of what laws are in place and how to work within the laws to help those in a time of crisis. His presentation is available here.
The third session, comprised of lawyers from the Independence Institute, Liberal Gun Club, and the National Shooting Sports Foundation, discussed some of the legal parameters and possible unintended consequences to be mindful of as a federal firearms license holder, a clinician, and/or a user of out-of-home storage. Lara’s presentation is available here.
The fourth session, consisting of representatives from the VA, clinicians, an out-of-home storage users, and a federal firearms license holder, discussed ways to implement lethal means mitigation in a time of emotional distress. The day concluded with a community town hall, featuring one speaker who has used out-of-home storage and the federal firearms license holder who temporarily housed his firearms.
The second day was run by Walk the Talk America, and it consisted of a firearm cultural competency course for clinicians. These sessions addressed nuances within gun culture, emotional functioning, and firearms safety. The day concluded with a trip to the range to allow clinicians an opportunity to fire an assortment of guns to better understand potential firearms owners who may be patients. WTTA’s presentations are available here. WTTA’s presentation, At the Intersection of Guns and Mental Health: The Introductory Course, is available here.
This conference overall was a huge success. Attendance far exceeded our expectations, especially so close to the Thanksgiving holiday. We got a good combination of attendees, with many being clinicians minimally familiar with firearms. For their attendance, they were able to receive continuing education units. And we had over a hundred people tune in online alone for the continuing legal education sessions.
We hope that this conference was a good first step in helping to reduce the stigmas of mental health and firearms ownership. By taking a cross-disciplinary approach, we wanted to open the communication channels for gun owners and federal firearms license holders to know how they can be help and/or seek help and for clinicians to better understand their patients, who may own guns, that are in distress.