How 'Hold My Guns' Is Changing the Narrative Around Gun Owners and Mental Health

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

While the gun control lobby is working to make it as easy as possible to strip citizens of their Second Amendment rights through “red flag” laws and using mental health holds as a basis for disqualification, some gun owners are taking a more constitutionally sound approach to helping gun owners who might be dealing with a mental health crisis; either their own or another household member.


Organizations like Walk the Talk America are doing incredible work in improving access to mental health care for gun owners, while other activists like Kathleen Gilligan are focusing on preventing veteran suicide. Then there’s Hold My Guns, which works with gun stores around the country to provide a secure place for gun owners to temporarily store their firearms when needed. Josh Rowe, the owner of Allegheny Arms and Gun Works, is the first FFL in the Pittsburgh area to partner with the group, and along with other participating gun shops across the country, took in dozens of firearms on a temporary basis this year.

At Allegheny Arms, anyone who wants to store their firearms can simply walk up the counter, and inquire about the service. Mr. Rowe’s employees will only ask how many firearms they would like to store, and provide them with a contract. Employees will answer any questions patrons have, and ask for a copy of the patron’s license or other identification. After a $20 deposit, the firearm is signed into inventory.

”It’s a pretty straightforward process,” he said.

In 2022, approximately 120 guns were stored using the service.

The service is part of a partnership with the nonprofit Hold My Guns, whose mission statement is “to connect responsible firearm owners with voluntary, private off-site storage options, through our national network of partnering gun shops and Federal Firearm Licensees, during times of mental health crisis or personal need.”

”Hold My Guns commends veteran-owned Allegheny Arms in Pittsburgh for their leadership and genuine care for the community,” said Sarah Joy Albrecht, the founder of HMG. “Their dedication to promoting voluntary firearms storage, fostering personal responsibility, and actively engaging the firearms community sets a commendable example.”


The service isn’t just for those worried about their mental health or the health of someone in their home. Rowe says most of the guns that he’s stored were brought in by gun owners who were leaving town and wouldn’t be around to ensure they weren’t stolen, for instance. But Albrecht says that Hold My Guns has also allowed domestic violence victims and those experiencing homelessness to enter a shelter knowing that their guns would be secure. And instead of a top-down storage mandate from the state or the creation of Extreme Risk Protection Orders, Albrecht believes the grassroots approach is going to be far more successful.

Ms. Albrecht argues that legislative decisions make gun owners “feel like their rights are being stripped away,” and HMG has been successful thus far because it “gained the trust of the community.”

”It’s an organization that comes from within the firearms community,” she said. “We are all either range safety officers, instructors or work for ranges and gun shops.”

HMG has been championed by the Pennsylvania Department of Military and Veteran Affairs, which called the service “a viable alternative that saves lives.”

”[We recognize] the need to promote responsible gun ownership for all of our citizens but in particular for our transitioning service members, veterans and their families,” said Richard Hamp, the special assistant to the deputy adjutant general for veteran affairs. “Hold My Guns is a valuable partner within the commonwealth.”


I have not had to avail myself of the services that Hold My Guns offers, and honestly, if I did I doubt I’d publicize my decision to temporarily remove my guns from my home, at least while they were gone. But I have no trouble whatsoever stating that I’m more than willing to take advantage of what Hold My Guns is providing if I ever feel that it’s appropriate or necessary to have someone hold on to my firearms for a short period of time. I haven’t felt the need to do so in the past, but you never know what the future holds, and I’m glad that Hold My Guns is working to make that an option for as many gun owners as possible.

The narrative that gun owners don’t care about struggles with mental health or suicides couldn’t be further from the truth, and I’m glad to see Hold My Guns getting some positive press in the mainstream media. The organization is relatively new and still has plenty of room to grow, with just eight FFLs participating at the moment, and I hope that in the new year we’ll see dozens of FFLs around the country partner with the group in their life-saving mission. For more information, check out Hold My Guns online, and don’t be afraid to encourage your own local gun shop to reach out and get involved as well.

Editor’s Note: a previous version of this story stated that Allegheny Arms and Gun Works took in dozens of firearms temporarily this year, but that figure was for every participating gun store working with Hold My Guns. Bearing Arms regrets the error. 


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