Policies Supporting Temporary Storage of Firearms

June 16, 2017

News Type:  Weekly Spark, Weekly Spark Research

A study identified how state laws can support or interfere with the temporary voluntary transfer of firearms from the homes of people at increased risk for suicide. The authors recommended that states supplement certain firearms laws, such as universal background checks, with provisions allowing individuals and families to temporarily store firearms with a friend, relative, licensed firearms dealer, or law enforcement official during a mental health crisis. These policies would also allow physicians and mental health providers to deliver guidance on firearm-related suicide prevention to people at high risk and their families.

The authors recommended that state firearms policies include provisions allowing temporary storage of firearms for at least 14 days, or longer depending on the advice of a physician or mental health professional. People who temporarily store firearms should be required to ensure that they would not be accessible to children or other unauthorized users. State policies should also limit the liability of people who temporarily store firearms, except in cases of gross negligence or reckless behavior.

McCourt, A. D., Vernick, J. S., Betz, M. E., Brandspigel, S., & Runyan, C. W. (2017). Temporary transfer of firearms from the home to prevent suicide: Legal obstacles and recommendations. JAMA Internal Medicine, 177(1), 96–101.

SPARK Extra! SPRC’s Counseling on Access to Lethal Means online course can help providers develop effective safety plans for people at risk for suicide.