Park Falls gun shop owner launched program to store weapons for those struggling with mental health concerns
Losing someone to suicide, like it does for many people, hits close to home for the owner of Essential Shooting Supplies, Chuck Lovelace.
Lovelace has lost family members, friends, and even customers to suicide.
That's why he made the Safe Storage Program.
While he knows he can not help everyone, the least he can do is try.
"We offer it with the no judgement, no questions asked policy," said Lovelace.
He came up with the program which lets people who might be struggling with mental health drop their guns off for storage.
Over 40 gun shops now take part in the program.
"It's not our business why they're dropping their firearms off for storage, our business is to store them, keep them secure," said Lovelace.
They can then pick up the firearm at any time after that as long as they feel alright to do so or if they do not want to, Essential will help them sell the firearms or look for other options.
Since Lovelace can not be everywhere at once, he makes sure his employees know the signs.
"Our employees have been educated in looking for someone who may be in a potential suicidal crisis," said Lovelace. "We can offer them different resources we have available to include literature, pamphlets, sources for them to be able to call, but also if we have to, we can deny the sale of a firearm if we're not comfortable with it."
The program has gained recognition in state government and is something legislators are trying to incorporate.
"Unfortunately it's never made it to a final vote and passing, but they're trying and they're working on it. Unfortunately like many things, politics works slow," said Lovelace.
Right now, Lovelace's locker is empty, but it will always be open to make a difference in someone's life.
If yourself or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, 988 is the National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline and it's available 24/7.