Gun Shop Project & retailer partnerships


Key facts
  • Firearm retailers can engage in GSP suicide prevention efforts through various actions, depending on what they want they choose:
  • Displaying posters, flyers, or other materials or providing educational materials at the point of sale to raise awareness of suicidal behavior and ways to securely store firearms
  • Educating their staff about the importance of secure firearm storage and the warning signs of suicide
  • Incorporating suicide prevention education in firearm safety training
  • Offering temporary firearm storage and/or assisting customers with accessing temporary safe storage if a customer or loved one is in crisis.
  • Declining the sale of a firearm to customers in crisis and linking them to mental health services


Gun Shop Projects (GSPs) are community-driven suicide prevention partnerships between the firearms community (e.g., firearm retailers, ranges, instructors, and other organizations) and public health professionals. GSPs began in New Hampshire in 2009 following three suicides in one week that involved firearms purchased from a single store. GSPs are now present in 21 states across the country, including Colorado. 

Generally, public health agencies or organizations enlist the help of Firearm Advocates, who are typically individuals from the firearm community, to serve as trusted messengers of firearm safety and suicide prevention. The Firearm Advocates work with firearm retailers, ranges, and other local stakeholders, such as emergency medical services (EMS) and Veteran services. The Firearm Advocates provide free materials to retailers that outline strategies for secure firearm storage, temporary out-of-home firearm storage, and other actions for firearm suicide prevention. Firearm retailers can then share these resources to educate their customers by providing these materials and engaging in conversations to promote suicide prevention and firearm safety. 

Is the Gun Shop Project effective?

Evaluations of GSPs implementation and impact are limited; however, findings are promising, demonstrating that GSPs use culturally appropriate messaging with firearm partners, resulting in community building between the firearms and public health community (Polzer et al., 2021). 

In Washington state, a survey of firearm retailers indicated that two-thirds were willing to learn about and engage in suicide prevention efforts (Walton and Stuber, 2020), and in a study of GSP implementation in New Hampshire, nearly half of firearm retailers accepted the materials and messaging of their GSP and promoted educational materials and suicide prevention resources (Vriniotis et al., 2015). There is currently a University of Colorado study underway assessing the core components of GSPs and the impact of GSPs on preventing firearm suicides. 


Gun Shop Projects in Colorado

In Colorado, GSPs are funded and supported by the Office of Suicide Prevention (OSP) at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Firearm advocates employed by local GSPs currently reach all firearm retailers in the State. For more information, email the OSP: CDPHE_suicideprevention@state.co.us.

  1. Polzer E., Brandspigel S., Kelly T., and Betz M.E. 2021. ‘Gun shop projects’ for suicide prevention in the USA: current state and future directions. Injury Prevention, 27:150-154.
  2. Vriniotis M., Barber C., Frank E., et al. 2015. The New Hampshire Firearm Safety C. A Suicide Prevention Campaign for Firearm Dealers in New Hampshire. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 45(5):157-63.
  3. Walton T. and Stuber J. 2020. Firearms Retailers and Suicide: Results from a survey assessing willingness to engage in prevention efforts. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 50(1):83-94.