AP Photo/Alan Diaz, File

A gun store in Wisconsin says a voluntary gun storage program for people in crisis is working, and the owners are hoping that new legislation passed by Republicans in the state will allow the initiative spread statewide.

Chuck Lovelace owns Essential Shooting Supplies in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, and in 2018 he began temporarily storing firearms for those who needed to temporarily remove guns from their home.

“Some people have a tendency to look at this as another gun control measure, and it’s not,” Lovelace said. “It’s not about gun control at all. It’s about limiting access when somebody’s in a time of crisis.”

He says even though people know they can temporarily turn firearms over to law enforcement, there’s a different level of trust with a gun shop.

“We’re part of the gun culture,” Lovelace said. “We’re very deeply mired within the gun culture, and so we understand people have bad days, people have bad weeks, people have bad months.”

While Republicans didn’t pass any gun control bills during their minute-long special session the other day, lawmakers in the Assembly did approve a grant program that would allow other gun stores to buy safes and establish the infrastructure they need to participate in similar programs.

A few weeks ago, Lovelace testified at the State Capitol describing his experience to lawmakers. With Thursday’s bill clearing the Assembly, Lovelace is hoping other shops will be able to save lives the way he feels the program has at his shop.

“Even if we only got two or three gun shops per county involved in this, I think that’s a huge step forward,” he said. “Having the funds available to assist those shops in purchasing a safe or help offset the cost of the space being used is huge.”

The bill still has to pass the state Senate and be signed into law by Governor Tony Evers.

Programs like this aren’t just happening in Wisconsin. In Colorado, for instance, the Firearms Safety Coalition, which is comprised of gun store owners, firearms instructors, and health professionals have released an interactive map highlighting shops and businesses across the state where gun owners can temporarily store their firearms.

Most of the facilities that are willing to consider temporarily holding firearms are gun stores, though there is one “vault and safe deposit box” facility and a handful of police departments as well. I think the reliance on private businesses is a good thing, because it lessens the concern about having a hard time getting your firearms back when you want them.

This is the type of gun safety tool that I can wholeheartedly get behind. I much prefer voluntarism over government coercion, and this map is a genuine help to those who may find themselves needing to store their firearms while they go on vacation or have someone in the home who doesn’t need to be around firearms.

These programs don’t involve any new gun control laws. It’s not about mandating firearms removal or stripping people of their rights, but empowerment and personal responsibility instead. It’s a much better approach than lawmakers simply slapping another gun control law on the books and proclaiming they’ve “done something.”