Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence

Gun Shop Project: Theory of Change

Gun Shop Projects (GSP) build a local infrastructure of partnership between public health agencies and firearm businesses, with the goal of using trusted messengers in the firearm community to educate owners and employees of these businesses on the increased risk of suicide for firearm owners. These firearm businesses are encouraged to adopt and promote this message by displaying educational materials and suicide prevention resources, recognizing individuals at risk for suicide, and facilitating safe storage opportunities for those at risk. This is represented in the Theory of Change image below

Theory of Change Graphic

Theory of Change: Public Health & Firearm Community Partnership > Firearm Advocate & Retailer Relationship Development > Education on Firearm Suicide Prevention TO Retailers > Education on Firearm Suicide Prevention FROM Retailers > Safe Firearm Behaviors > Temporary Safe Storage During Times of Crisis

How it Works

  • Local public or community health agencies typically begin by establishing a relationship with the local firearms community, eventually broadening to be a collective partnership between the public health agency and firearm businesses.
  • The public health agency serves as a credible informant for resources on suicide prevention, while members of the firearm community serve as the trusted messenger to deliver a message on firearm safety and suicide risk.
  • The use of the firearms community intentionally addresses the cultural barriers to educating firearm owners on suicide risk and firearm safety.
  • Firearm advocates who represent the local public health agency meet with firearm retailers, ranges, safety instructors, and other businesses to educate the businesses on the connection between firearm access and suicide risk.
  • The firearm businesses are asked to display educational materials and suicide prevention resources in their storefronts so that customers and community members also learn about the increased risk for suicide for firearm owners. The owners and employees receive guidance on how to identify warning signs for suicide and to facilitate safe storage practices should a customer or community member be at risk for suicide.

The goal of the GSP is to increase knowledge and encourage behavior changes favorable to facilitating safe storage of firearms during a time of crisis. If members of the firearms community change firearm storage practices, the firearms community achieves community-level means reduction resulting in prevention of suicides involving firearms among the firearms community members. However, there have not been previous evaluations to test these mechanisms for change.