Tonight the club is offering more than shooting, though. The women rotate through the firing range, and in another large room, they hear a sobering presentation from emergency room doctor Emmy Betz. She’s part of a collaboration between gun shops and public health leaders in the state to help prevent suicide.
“If you’ve been touched by suicide somehow, if you could, raise your hand,” she asks. About half the hands go up.
Colorado has the nation’s seventh-highest suicide rate. In a typical year, more than half involve guns. Research suggests suicide is often an impulsive act, Betz says, and attempts are much more likely to be lethal when a firearm is used. If people survive a suicide attempt, they are far less likely to eventually die from suicide.
“Unfortunately, with firearms typically there’s not that second chance,” she says.
There’s a new push in the national conversation about gun violence that is attempting to sidestep the political rancor, to find common ground on one thing — guns and suicide. The campaign in Colorado is called the Colorado Gun Shop Project.
Centennial Gun Club is one of 46 on board. The project formally started in the summer of 2014, modeled after a similar one by the New Hampshire Firearm Safety Coalition.
During Betz’s talk, organizers hand out Life Savers candies to drive home the message. Gun owner Lily Richardson says she thinks the information could do just that: save lives. “I think those who are aware and taking the initiative to talk about it can help make the difference,” she says.
Nancy Dibiaggio, a new gun owner, agrees. “It’s a big issue, and I think it’s great Colorado is jumping on the wagon with this.”
Dick Abramson, Centennial’s owner, says he welcomes the opportunity to facilitate the discussion. “The difficulty is that it’s not a topic …