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PA – GUN SAFETY – Two firearms safety instructors have a plan to prevent suicides among gun owners

Most days of the week, Sarah Albrecht works as a doula and childbirth educator, where she’s learned to help women dealing with the stress of pregnancy, the pain of miscarriage and postpartum depression that seems to come out of nowhere. But on Monday nights, the 39-year-old works as a range safety officer at a gun club in Chester County, where she teaches children and teenagers—including her son—how to shoot. Albrecht emphasizes that she is not a mental health professional. However, as a doula, she’s seen how a mental health crisis can emerge. One in five people in the U.S. experience mental illness each year. Firearms are used  in half of all suicides in the U.S., and Albrecht also has personal knowledge of the risks. Sarah knew four people who died by suicide. Two of them used firearms. For some people, tragedies like these are reasons not to own guns or keep them in the house. However, about 43 percent of U.S. households do have guns, a recent Gallup poll shows. For that group—about 140 million people live in those households—Albrecht and a colleague have come up with a plan they hope can prevent firearms deaths by giving gun owners a chance to turn in their weapons during a crisis. They’re calling the effort “Hold My Guns.” Their hope is that when people know things are getting out of hand, “they get help, and take a break from their firearms if they own any,” Albrecht said. But “taking a break” from firearms, as Albrecht put it, can be harder than it seems. In some states, including Pennsylvania, it’s against the law to give a handgun to someone else unless they have a permit.

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